Forcing Catholic school to teach “secular” religion course is 'totalitarian,' critics say
MONTREAL, December 14, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The government of Quebec is forcing Catholic schools to replace the Christian religion with the state’s “neutral” alternative based on moral relativism. That’s how defenders of religious freedom have responded to last week’s court ruling that a private Catholic high school must teach the state’s “secular” Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course.
Barbara Kay slammed the judges’ decision in the National Post on Wednesday, arguing that it empowers a government to “compel a faith community to jettison its driving beliefs in order to promote the state’s secular religion of multiculturalism; or indeed, in the future, to compel promotion of any other theory or belief the state may wish to substitute for a faith community’s convictions.”
Kay said that the ruling treats religion merely as a “cultural preference, not a deeply held core belief.”
“For Catholics, on the other hand, everyone who is a Catholic or a member of another religious faith —or even atheistic — is respected as a spiritual pilgrim on a profound journey in pursuit of truth,” she said.
Marie Bourque, vice president of the Association of Catholic Parents of Quebec, told the Catholic Register that the mandated ERC program will make children skeptical of any kind of religion or faith.
“It sort of vaccinates children against all faiths by teaching them you can fabricate your own religion,” she said.
The ERC course purports to take a “neutral” stance on world religions, giving equal spiritual standing to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Wicca, Raëlism, aboriginal animism, and even a student’s own invented religion.
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“If you say that, you are rejecting the divinity of Jesus Christ and the whole of Christianity,” Bourque said.
The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) called the ruling “a grand social experiment” that raised the “legitimate objections of religious parents”.
“With this decision, the Court of Appeal has seriously infringed upon the right of parents to direct the religious education of their children,” said League President Philip Horgan.
Fr. Raymond de Souza called it “totalitarian” to “compel a private Jesuit high school to teach that, as between Christianity and say, witchcraft, there can be no considered judgment as to which view is to be proposed.”
“When we hear about dictatorship in Canada, our initial response is to be skeptical. Surely not here! But what else to call a state mandate that dictates that Catholic schools — and every single religious believer in Quebec of any creed — must teach relativism pure and simple, namely that between two contradictory positions, both are equally true or equally false, or to put it more directly, equally nothing,” he wrote.
Douglas Farrow, a McGill University professor, who testified at Loyola’s original case, recenlty told LifeSiteNews.com that “there is currently in Canada no more important case respecting religious liberty than this one.”
Farrow wrote in a 2008 article appearing in the Montreal Gazette that Quebec’s Ethics and Religious Culture curriculum should be a “wake-up call” for all Canadians who value raising their children with faith-based values.
“I am against it because - make no mistake about this! - it is intended to wean children away from traditional religious and moral commitments and to train them up in an ideology antipathetic to those commitments, the ideology of so-called ‘normative pluralism.’”
“It is intended to teach them the Sheerman principle that faith is all right as long as people are not that serious about it. It is intended, in other words, to pry them away from their most basic communities of socialization - their families and their houses of worship - and to unite them in the state, with the state, and under the State, a state that regards itself as more fundamentally important than their families and churches.”
Loyola has 60 days to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada, and is studying whether or not to make a petition.