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MONTREAL, Quebec, April 29, 2010 ( – The Drummondville couple who requested that their children be exempted from Quebec's new program in relativism, Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC), have decided to take their case to the Supreme Court of Canada following the February decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal to deny their appeal.

The parents are being supported in this effort by the Coalition for Freedom in Education (CLE), who praised the family Wednesday for their “principled and courageous” fight for the authentic education of children. Sylvain Lamontagne, CLE's president, declared that “as far as the parents are concerned, this curriculum trivializes their religion and moral values and treat[s] them as no more important or true as any other.”

“Some sociologists have even publicly qualified it as indoctrination,” he added.

A study released at the end of 2009 by sociologist Joelle Querin found that the program teaches children that the values their parents espouse at home “are relative and that they are free to develop their own ethical life.”

Richard Décarie, a spokesman for CLE, said that “imposing this curriculum to all children is a serious onslaught on parental rights and freedom of conscience, so much so that even the United States government is closely monitoring the situation.”

Décarie was referring to a 2009 report on religious freedom throughout the world from the U.S. State Department that included a paragraph on the Drummondville parents' case, which was before the Quebec Superior Court at the time.

The parents had requested an exemption to the course from the Ministry of Education on the basis that it violated their religious beliefs, but were denied.  They took the Ministry to the Quebec Superior Court in the spring of 2009, which ruled in favor of the Ministry in August.

In a press release today, CLE pointed out that no exemptions at all have been granted to the ERC program.  The loss of the fundamental right for parents to choose the moral and religious education of their children at school is currently limited to Québec, they said, but they warned that if this encroachment by the state goes unchallenged, it may set a precedent and encourage other provinces in Canada to follow Québec's lead.

The Québec family's appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada is supported by various associations, such as the 104,000-strong Knights of Columbus of Québec.  The Québec population is also strongly committed to freedom of choice in moral and religious education, according to two successive Leger Marketing polls.  In May 2009 they found that 76% of parents thought parents should be able to choose between ERC and a denominational religious education program.  That was up from October 2008, when 72 percent favored such a choice.

See related coverage:

Quebec Family's Appeal Rejected for Exemption from Mandatory Relativism Course

New Study Rips Into Quebec Relativism Course