QUEBEC CITY, September 9, 2005 ( – In a measure that deprives Christian parents the constitutionally guaranteed right to religious schooling, Quebec lawmakers “quietly” passed a law over the summer that effectively eliminates all religious instruction from public schools in the province.

On June 15, the province passed a law eliminating all religious education in public schools, to be replaced by 2008 with a course in ethics or religious culture if desired. In 1997, Quebec enacted a constitutional amendment that eliminated denominational religious schools – an institution guaranteed in the country’s founding document, the British North America Act of 1867. The 1997 measure allowed denominational religious instruction to continue within the public school system – until now.

The Catholic News Agency also reported that there were no press releases from the Ministry of Education on the decision, nor were there any reports in the secular English press.

Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier introduced Bill 95 in May, claiming the new rule would more effectively meet “the current social challenges and the needs of Quebec youth today.”

The Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops, along with other concerned parents groups presented a 60,000-signature petition to Quebec parliament that supported the maintenance of religious education in public schools. In addition, the Quebec bishops and the parent’s group made an appeal before a parliamentary hearing committee, arguing that Christianity is an important part of Quebec legacy that schoolchildren should not be denied. They added that the new program would likely contradict the values Christian parents try to instil in their children.

Ultimately, the petition and hearings failed. “The hearings were merely a façade,” said Jocelyne St-Cyr, who headed a concerned citizen’s group that opposed the change, as reported by the Catholic Times of Montreal. “The minister thinks that he has respected democracy but he has not.”

See related coverage:
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  Senate Approves Stopping Religious Schooling In Quebec
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