1 Jun 2011

Religious parents challenge Quebec law prohibiting teaching a specific faith in government funded childcares

Globe and Mail - Canada Ma 31, 2011

Quebec parents challenge no-religion rule for daycares


MONTREAL—Quebec’s effort to oust God from daycare is facing a court challenge from a group of parents, who say the plan is forcing educators to do everything from rewrite nursery tunes to ban angels from Christmas trees.

A coalition of mostly Catholic and Jewish parents has filed an injunction to suspend the no-religion rules, which are to come into effect in the province’s 1,400 publicly financed daycares starting Wednesday.

The new policy brings the province’s push toward secularism to the tot-and-toddler set by prohibiting the teaching of a particular faith – and Family Minister Yolande James says the regime will launch Wednesday as scheduled.

“This was something that was well thought-out,” Ms. James said in an interview. Quebec’s daycares cost parents $7 a day and are heavily subsidized by the state, she said. “In that context, contrary to private daycare, the teaching of religion is not appropriate.”

But a newly formed group, Quebeckers for Equal Rights to Subsidized Day Cares, argues the government directives are vague, a bureaucratic headache to apply, and discriminate against parents who believe daycares should be an extension of the family home. The group is challenging the rules under the Quebec and Canadian charters.

“This is a fundamental question,” said Marie-Josée Hogue, lawyer for the coalition, which includes more than 200 parents and associations from the Catholic, Jewish and Egyptian Copt communities. “The benefits of the law should be the same without distinctions like religion and belief.” Daycare, she said, “is a substitute to the home environment.”

The government’s directives lay out a complex set of dos-and-don’ts: It’s okay if a three-year-old initiates a religious act individually, but an educator can’t do the same if it’s aimed at children. A priest or imam can visit a daycare but not offer religious instruction.

In practice, at least one daycare director has already told an educator to drop a reference to God in the popular song Au Clair de la Lune, according to members of the coalition. Books with Bible stories are being pulled off shelves, and children can henceforth be told about the building of Noah’s Ark but not that God commanded it.

“This will be paralyzing for our educators. They are emotionally broken. For them it’s like punishing the children,” said Danielle Sabbah, president of an association of 17 Jewish daycares. “In Jewish culture it’s very difficult to separate religion, tradition and culture.”

The coalition said that when the Parti Québécois government introduced its popular universal daycare network in the 1998, the centres were to be reflections of the diverse communities they served. Today about 100 daycares offer some form of religious focus representing the Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Greek Orthodox faiths. The new policy, announced last year, will be implemented by 58 inspectors; daycares found in violation risk losing their subsidy, which amounts to about $40 per child per day.

This article was found at:


Opponents of Quebec's religious education coarse fear that when religions are held up to rational scrutiny all are irrational

Children of Christian immigrants to Canada think they face more religious discrimination than Muslim immigrant children

Christian dominionists target children between 4 and 14 as the most vulnerable to spiritual manipulation

Children have a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the right to be free from religion

Some Canadian provinces discriminate against non-Catholics and unbelievers by publicly funding Catholic schools

The Alberta town where all public schools force Catholic dogma on non-Catholic students

Canadian fundamentalist Christian universities promote religious extremism over knowledge

Australian evangelical group aims to convert children through government funded school religious programs

Vote-seeking Australian government opts to spend $437 million on school chaplains instead of qualified counsellors

Atheist Ireland says children's right to be exempt from religious class a theoretical illusion

Irish children subjected to religious dogma in order to get an education in school system dominated by Catholic church

Parental rights vs children's rights: debating the role of religious institutions in Irish education system

German teen expelled from government funded Catholic school after exercising her human right to religious freedom

UK theology think tank says it is wrong to exclude God from classroom, superstition and reason should be equal partners

Secularists campaign to change UK law that makes religious assemblies in schools compulsory, government and church resist

Groups call on British government to replace compulsory collective worship in schools with inclusive assemblies

U.K. school inspectors report that Christian theology and non-religious beliefs not being adequately taught in compulsory religious education classes

European Court of Human Rights says crucifix not a symbol of indoctrination, reverses ban in Italian public schools

European Court of Human Rights rules crucifixes in Italian schools violates children's religious freedom to believe or not

Nebraska education administrators get mixed messages from lawyers on legality of promoting religion in schools


  1. Quebec students must take ethics-religion course

    Supreme Court dismisses parents' appeal against mandatory attendance

    CBC News February 17, 2012

    Canada's top court on Friday rejected an appeal from parents in Quebec who sought the right to keep their children out of an ethics and religious culture program taught in the province's schools.

    The program, which was introduced in 2008 to elementary and high schools by the provincial Education Ministry, replaced religion classes with a curriculum covering all major faiths found in Quebec culture, including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and aboriginal beliefs.

    "Exposing children to a comprehensive presentation of various religions without forcing the children to join them does not constitute an indoctrination of students that would infringe the freedom of religion of L and J [the appellants]," Madam Justice Marie Deschamps wrote in the main ruling.

    "Furthermore, the early exposure of children to realities that differ from those in their immediate family environment is a fact of life in society. The suggestion that exposing children to a variety of religious facts in itself infringes their religious freedom or that of their parents amounts to a rejection of the multicultural reality of Canadian society and ignores the Quebec government’s obligations with regard to public education."

    The top court said that the appellants had not proven that the ethics and religion course infringed their freedom of religion, nor that the refusal of the school board to exempt their children had violated their constitutional rights.

    In 2009, Quebec's Superior Court rejected a request from two Drummondville parents who wanted to keep their children out of the program.

    After their appeal was denied in Quebec in 2010, the parents took it to the Supreme Court, which heard their case in May 2011.

    Incompatible beliefs

    When the program became mandatory in Quebec schools in May 2008, the appellants, who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban, had one child in elementary school and another in secondary school.

    The parents wrote to the two schools to request that their children be exempt from the courses.

    They claimed their children would suffer serious harm from contact with a series of beliefs that were mostly incompatible with those of the family.

    The school board refused to grant the exemption, responding as other boards had to similar requests. The Quebec minister of education publicly stated that there would be no exemptions.

    When Quebec first brought in the ethics and religion course, some Catholic parents fought back, saying it interfered with their ability to pass their faith on to their children. They also argued that it infringed on their freedom of conscience and religion under the Charter of rights and Freedoms.

    They wanted to pull their children out of the classes and exempt them from taking other religion classes in the future. Almost 2,000 other parents also requested exemptions from the education ministry but were denied.

    In effect, the Supreme Court now has sided with the provincial government and the earlier ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal.


  2. Top court clears religion course

    By Sue Montgomery, Montreal Gazette February 17, 2012

    A controversial ethics and religious course taught in Quebec schools is in line with the changing face of Canada and in no way violates a person’s right to freedom of religion, the country’s highest court ruled Friday.

    It was a blow to the Catholic parents who had fought all the way to the Supreme Court to win an exemption from the course for their children because they felt that exposing them to a variety of religions would only confuse them.

    But the nine judges disagreed, saying that exposing children to beliefs and values that differ from their own is a fact of life in our diverse society.

    “The suggestion that exposing children to a variety of religious facts in itself infringes their religious freedom or that of their parents amounts to a rejection of the multicultural reality of Canadian society and ignores the Quebec government’s obligations with regard to public education,” the ruling says.

    “Given the diversity of present-day Quebec, the state can no longer promote a vision of society in public schools that is based on historically dominant religions.”

    The Drummondville parents, who can’t be named to protect the identity of their children, failed to prove that the course interfered with their ability to pass their Catholic faith onto their children, the ruling says.

    “(The judges) are saying ‘you can’t just say you feel like your rights have been violated; there has to be a standard that has to be met,’ ” said Daniel Weinstock, a philosophy professor at the Université de Montréal who sat on the commission that recommended such a course be created.

    “That’s a fairly strong statement for the court to say, ‘You didn’t even get past the first rung.’ ”

    The decision could affect the outcome of a court battle between Loyola High School, in Notre Dame de Grâce, and the Quebec government.

    The province refused to grant the 160-year-old Catholic boys’ school an exemption, and even turned down an offer of an equivalent course, saying religion and ethics can’t be taught from a Catholic perspective.

    In June 2010, Quebec Superior Court sided with the school – a decision the government will appeal before the Quebec Court of Appeal on May 7.

    In his ruling, Superior Court Justice Gerard Dugré compared the attempt of the education minister to impose a secular emphasis on Loyola High School’s teaching of the course to the intolerance of the Spanish Inquisition.

    “The obligation imposed on Loyola to teach the ethics and religious culture course in a lay fashion assumes a totalitarian character essentially equivalent to Galileo’s being ordered by the Inquisition to deny the Copernican universe,” the judge wrote in his 63-page decision.

    Benoît Boucher, the lawyer representing the government, wouldn’t comment on how the Supreme Court decision might affect their appeal.

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  3. continued from previous comment:

    Constitutional lawyer Julius Grey said it would likely have a positive impact for the government’s case.

    “It would be bizarre if the school could say we’re exempt because of our religious orientation when the parents can’t be exempt because of their religious orientation,” he said.

    The course, known as Ethics and Religious Culture, is the result of years of the province moving toward secular education. It covers many religions, but from a cultural perspective.

    ERC was gradually implemented in schools before becoming mandatory at the start of the 2008-09 school year. The Drummondville parents requested an exemption before the school year began.

    Two of the nine Supreme Court justices noted in Friday’s ruling that while the teaching methods and content of the course remain “sketchy,” they felt the parents hadn’t made their case.

    Justices Louis LeBel and Morris Fish went further than their colleagues, saying future rights violations as a result of the course could be possible but don’t “paint a yellow brick road” to show future plaintiffs what they would have to show to prove that, Weinstock said.

    “This may be a ray of light opened up (to future plaintiffs),” he said. “As far as the other judges are concerned, the door is shut.”


  4. Politicians, not Catholics, deserve Ontario’s wrath for funding religious schools

    by ADAM RADWANSKI Globe and Mail May 29, 2012

    They are stubborn in defence of views that increasingly look anachronistic. Somehow, they have convinced themselves that the “diversity” of their province hinges on their ability to continue implicitly or directly telling some of the most vulnerable kids in the high-school system that there’s something wrong with them.

    So, yes, it's easy right now to gang up on Ontario's Catholic leaders. But in the protracted fight over “gay-straight alliances” that seems to have come to a head this week, they're not the ones who really deserve to be feeling the heat.

    That honour goes, instead, to the men and women running the province, who prefer to tell religious leaders how they should change their moral code rather than tell them they no longer have any business advancing that code through publicly funded schools.

    To most of the rest of the Western world, it would come as little surprise that Catholics in Ontario – the ones in senior positions within the church, at least – are uncomfortable telling kids that it’s okay to be gay. The surprise, rather, would be that Ontario still has a publicly funded Catholic school system beyond any point at which it’s reasonably needed or defensible as a minority right.

    For that matter, we’re also rapidly passing the point at which that system’s Catholicism has any real meaning. To many of us, the church’s willingness to allow its identity to be heavily shaped by its positions on hot-button social issues – gay rights and abortion first among them – might seem peculiar. But to tell Catholics they can have their own schools but not their own beliefs surely defeats whatever purpose these schools are still supposed to serve.

    That leaves – should leave – two choices.

    One would be to let Catholics run their publicly funded schools according to their value system. Never mind that many of the students aren’t really there for a religious education, since there aren’t actually enough religious Catholics to sustain a parallel system in many parts of the province. This is our system, and we’re sticking with it.

    The other would be for government finally to accept that, sometimes, progress involves a few headaches, and start treating Catholics the same as everyone else – free to practice their faith as they see fit, including with religious schools, but not on the public dime.

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  5. continued from previous comment:

    Privately, many of the people in and around government believe that’s the right way to go, and some take it as a given that it will eventually happen. But somehow, it remains a third rail that nobody in a position of power is willing to touch.

    Not Dalton McGuinty, whose own Catholic upbringing, and subsequent emergence as a social liberal and self-styling as the “education Premier” would make him uniquely well-suited to tackle the issue. Not either of the opposition leaders, Tim Hudak or Andrea Horwath. (The lone exception among party chiefs is Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, but it would be a stretch to say he’s in a position of power.) And not Don Drummond, the economist who earlier this year delivered a report with some 360 recommendations to make government more efficient, yet somehow managed to overlook the waste from doubling up on school administration across the province.

    Now that the GSAs have once again brought attention to how outdated the system is, our leaders have another opportunity to get this right. At a minimum, they should level with Catholic leaders, by urging them to forego public funding if they want to receive the same treatment – and have the same freedom – as every other religion or denomination.

    Still, it seems easier to gloss over the obvious.

    On Monday, Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod accused Mr. McGuinty’s government of having “provoked the Catholic education system,” and of laying the groundwork for defunding it, by insisting that schools recognize GSAs. That she thought this would be a bad thing was slightly odd, given that Ms. MacLeod is a young MPP who has intermittently championed the kinds of anti-bullying measures that so trouble separate schools, but she needn’t worry. The government has thus far shown more inclination to try to make Catholicism palatable to the masses than tell Catholics to practice it on their own time.


  6. Time to Revoke Public Funds to Catholic Schools: National Secular Organization

    Centre for Inquiry Media Advisory May 30, 2012

    TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 30, 2012) - The hard-line response by Cardinal Thomas Collins to refuse GSAs signals an escalation in a war between the Catholic School System and the Ontario government that leaves vulnerable students as its casualties.

    "The question as to whether catholic schools should be required to support GSAs has been satisfactorily answered," said Justin Trottier, National Communications Director of the Centre for Inquiry (CFI). "The real question now is whether Ontario should be required to continue to support catholic schools."

    "The elephant in the room - public funding of Catholic schools - has become so destructive to fundamental rights and equality it's impossible to ignore," said Trottier.

    The Catholic School Boards' bully pulpit has long been a source of friction with human rights. "Whether banning books by atheists, suspending students advocating pro-choice or refusing admission to non-Catholics, the status quo can no longer be maintained," said CFI Chairperson Kevin Smith.

    In now attempting to censor the very identity of gay students the system has reached its breaking point.

    "This kind of conflict will crop up again and again so long as the Catholic School System is funded by all taxpayers but accountable elsewhere, to the Assembly of Catholic Bishops and Cardinal Collins," said Trottier.

    CFI urges the revocation of public funding to the Roman Catholic School system. This is not an attack on Catholics. The Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association supports GSAs and Catholic schools can do as they please. They simply cannot push their moral code at the expense of every Ontario taxpayer.


  7. Ontario dad wants option of pulling kids out of class based on religious beliefs


    TORONTO - An Ontario father is taking his children's school board to court in a bid for advance notice on lesson plans that might contradict his Christian beliefs.

    Steve Tourloukis is asking Ontario's Superior Court to force the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board for a heads-up when topics such as marriage, family and sexuality will be discussed in his kids' classes.

    It's discriminatory to deny him the religious accommodation when it is provided to people of other faiths, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Tourloukis said Monday at a news conference.

    He dismissed the idea of educating his children — a son in Grade 4 and a daughter in Grade 1 — in the separate school system.

    "Why should I send my children to another school?" he said. "I pay my taxes...I don't see why somebody else's discrimination should cause me, should influence where I send my children. Not in a free country. Not in Canada."

    The Hamilton father noted that he teaches his children that everyone is made in the image of God and to love people who are different from them, but said this isn't about his religious beliefs.

    "This is about a parent's right to know what is being taught in schools," Tourloukis said.

    "My children are my own. I own them. They don't belong to the school board."

    The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board would not comment on Tourloukis' case. But John Malloy, the director of education, said religious accommodations are provided when they don't harm anyone else.

    By way of example Malloy pointed to a situation in which a parent raises concerns about discussions in the classroom surrounding homosexuality.

    "There may be a young child in that class who has two moms or two dads and that child has every right to speak of his experience," Malloy said.

    "As well the child and his family who might have a religious belief that is struggling with that has the right to share their own experience.

    "We need to create the kind of environment...where compassion emerges, we learn about each other, even if we're different."

    Education Minister Laurel Broten said she believes in the province's "evidence-based curriculum" and it must be taught across Ontario.

    "We are confident and stand by our curriculum and all boards across the province have religious accommodation protocols that they put in place at a local level," she said.

    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said decisions about accommodations are up to the local school boards.

    "That's why we have independently elected trustees," she said. "It remains their purview to make those decisions and to determine what the board can handle as far as accommodating the needs of parents and the kids."


  8. Peddling God to Schoolkids? Pay up, Christian Soldier

    Chilliwack school board's decision whether to axe Gideon bible giveaway raises an interesting funding opportunity.

    By Shannon Rupp, TheTyee.ca November 13, 2012

    Not so hasty. That's the advice I'd give the Chilliwack school board, which appears to be on the verge of ordering an about face for the Christian soldiers distributing Gideon Bibles in public schools.

    The school board will be reconsidering its Bible giveaway scheme at a meeting tonight due to a somewhat tardy review of the B.C. School Act, which states schools must be "strictly secular and nonsectarian."

    By "reconsidering" I assume they mean backtracking before someone sues. And I despair at such shortsighted thinking at a time when daily headlines warn us of shortfalls in education budgets.

    Forget about fighting the New Crusades: this isn't a religious faux pas, it's a fundraising opportunity!

    If the Gideons want the privilege of peddling their holy books to a captive market of susceptible tweens, we should charge them for it.

    The way I see it, Christianity is a lot like Coke. No, not just because both leave a vile taste in your mouth. And no, not even because a case can be made for each of them as a health hazard. They're alike in that both pop and religion need to hook their customers young before their critical thinking skills kick-in and they develop better taste.

    The Gideons aim their product at Grade 5 students for the same reason so many merchants focus on what is known as the tween market. From about 10 to 14 children are at their most vulnerable to brainwashing techniques that come under the umbrella of marketing. At the same time they're relatively independent and able to make a lot of choices about what they buy or buy into. Due to their vulnerability, they're not just a windfall now, they're often lifelong customers.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the God squad gave the sugar pushers the idea to invade the schools in the first place, since religion has always made special efforts with kids. As the Jesuits like to say, "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you a man."

    That's the reason television gets away with charging prime rates for the 30-second spots surrounding kids' cartoons. It's not like the poppets have much cash to call their own. Although the nagging skills of prepubescents in search of a Happy Meal are legendary, the ads also serve to create warm and fuzzy childhood memories that are associated forever with Froot Loops. Which explains why long past an age when you know better you catch yourself treating a broken heart with Oreos and chocolate milk.

    Why, I ask you, are school boards giving purveyors of any product free access to this publicly owned goldmine?

    It's often said that children are our most precious natural resource, and since Canada is a country founded on exploiting natural resources, I can't understand why no one else has spotted the obvious free market solution to the Gideon kerfuffle. Junk food sellers pay a premium for access to kiddies via school cafeterias and vending machines. Why should purveyors of junk ideas be treated any differently? That seems downright discriminatory.

    But we have to act fast because the window on this opportunity is closing swiftly due to the usual suspects missing the big picture.

    High profile atheists like Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist) are cheering Richard Ajabu, the parent who first protested the proselytizing in October. Then the B.C. Humanist Association got into the act, calling on Education Minister Don McRae to investigate the state of secularism in public schools. It seems the Gideon invasion of Chilliwack is just the thin edge of the wedge and there are signs of creeping religion in Powell River and Abbotsford too.

    Meanwhile the Christians have been offering views like the one Art Monner expressed in a letter to the Chilliwack Times.

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  9. "Why is this irritating Mr. Ajabu's mind? I must say that Hindu, Muslim, etc. rituals are irritating Christian minds as well. Christians developed this country, not Hindus, Muslims, etc.," Monner writes. "Mr. Ajabu has only one honest solution: go back to his home country, practice his religion over there."

    By the way, Monner reminds me that someone needs to tell McRae that it's time to improve the history curriculum and make sure citizens understand that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't just guarantee freedom of religion, it guarantees freedom from religion.

    Speaking of which, I'm not sure why so many of the faithful get the idea that freedom of religion gives them license to foist their crackpot notions on other people without so much as a by-your-leave.

    Originally the laws were meant to prevent the state imposing its religious values on citizens. Ideally, we'd like to avoid any return to the excesses of rulers like "Bloody Mary" -- that was Queen Mary, the Catholic daughter of King Henry the VIII. She earned her nickname by slaughtering her Protestant subjects in a bid to get everyone singing from the same song sheet. Or possibly to get even with daddy for inventing a new religion and loving her sister best. Who knows?

    The point is we want protection from the possibility of, say, some prime minister becoming enamoured of some American fundamentalist church and trying to impose their loony views about women on Canadian society. Just for example.

    Whenever religious disputes crop up I find that all respect for logic, facts, and common sense fly out the window. So it's easy for combatants in the holy wars to forget that the philosophical underpinning for democracy is to create a good life for everyone, however each of us defines it. Although we all define it as including a proper education, without which you have no democracy.

    Since we seem to be running out of options for funding that, I'm happy to let the evangelicals spread the good news in our schools for fee. Ditto the rest of the preachers and peddlers of various and sundry stuff, since everyone's business relies on making converts.

    Religions may celebrate the noble poor but they're inclined to be prosperous, which makes them excellent candidates for this funding project. Just consider the booty in the Vatican. Or Scientology's millions of auditing customers. And since many houses of worship sit on prime real estate while paying no taxes, they're often quite flush. With this little budget boost, I imagine we could be on our way to internationally competitive math scores in no time.

    Allowing the market to decide whose holy book gets a berth in the vending machine isn't just more egalitarian, it's nicer. Money is impersonal, so there's none of the bigotry and general nastiness that arises whenever we debate who has the best fairy-on-a-cloud. Naturally the atheist groups should feel free to fund access to the works of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.

    I've approached one school board with my fundraising plan, but so far my notes have been met with a surprising silence. That's why I'm making my vision public before it's too late.

    I fear the Chilliwack school board's meeting tonight may get religious products banned definitively from public schools before all of B.C. has a chance to consider it as just another consumer choice in the marketplace. Aren't they just as deserving of paid access to young customers as, for example, McDonalds?

    Of course there will always be some parents who let their kids wear designer duds and tote iThingys while finding it repugnant to admit their little darlings as just another target market. But I think most citizens will enjoy the irony of letting more organizations pay for the opportunity to expand their clientele while funding the only real defence against an increasingly predatory marketplace: a good education.


  10. Sophia Investigates The Good News Club

    by Scott Burdick· YouTube February 7, 2013


    Do you think children should be told they are evil and deserve to die? This is what the Good News Club teaches -- in Public Elementary Schools, no less.

    In 2001, a conservative Supreme Court overthrew a New York public school's policy of excluding adult-led religious proselytizing groups like The Good News Club from operating in its schools, turning the Establishment Clause on its head. Since then the Good News Clubs have been on a tear, and now can be found in well over 3000 public elementary schools across America.

    The Clubs, which are sponsored by an organization called the Child Evangelism Fellowship, are designed to indoctrinate very young children in a very specific and deeply fundamentalist version of the Christian faith -- one that endorses Biblical "inerrancy" and creationism, and emphasizes obedience at all costs. By operating in public schools, the Clubs deceive small children into thinking that their school supports this particular form of the Christian religion. Kids who attend the Clubs have said that the religion of the Good News Club "must be true, because they teach it in school, and they don't teach things in school that aren't true."

    The introduction of such proselytizing Clubs sows division in formerly harmonious school communities, weakening support for public education as a whole. Good News Clubs are coming to a school near you. Catch the documentary first.

    Please visit Katherine Stewart's website for more information on her book, "The Good News Club"

    Or these websites with lots of information on what you can do to combat these clubs in general, or if they come to your school. http://www.goodnewsclubs.info http://goodnewsclubs.info/civilremedies.htm

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  11. Here's the Permission form Bob signed (I've omitted Sophia's last name). Bob is now claiming that he only signed permission for Sophia to use the footage for a school project, which is clearly not true. I'll be happy to provide a copy of the form Bob and all the other people interviewed for the film signed if YouTube requests them, seeing as Bob has now filed with YouTube to have the film removed.

    I give Sophia ***** and her team permission to record and use my interviews as well as footage of the Good News Spectacular for the purposes of creating a video documentary, or for any other projects she may give permission for in the future.

    I understand that at my request, I will be provided with a DVD copy of Sophia ******'s final documentary project that I may use in it's completed form free of charge.

    I understand that the recordings of my interview, footage from the Good News Spectacular, and the transcripts (if transcribed) will be maintained and made available indefinitely by the filmmaker for such research, production (e.g., radio, television, film festivals, World Wide Web, exhibitions, related advertisements), and educational purposes as the filmmaker/photographer shall determine.

    I hereby grant, and transfer to the filmmaker/photographer, all rights, title, and interest in the interview and video documentary, including without limitation the literary rights and the copyright. I hereby release filmmaker/photographer, his/her legal representatives and assigns, from all claims and liability relating to said documentary and photographs.

    I attest that I have voluntarily agreed to be interviewed and that this document contains the entire and complete agreement concerning the use and preservation of my interview.

    Signed and dated by Bob -- he also wrote his address and phone # -- and I filmed him doing so. Here is a link to the actual release form with Bob's signature -- I just blacked out Sophia's last name and Bob's personal information.

    And here's a link that proves the claim that the GNC teaches children they deserve death -- from their own course books. http://goodnewsclubs.info/youdeservedeath.htm

  12. Father wins right to have son exempted from all religious programs at Ontario Catholic high school

    Andrew Philips, Special to National Post | April 8, 2014

    TORONTO — A Toronto-area father has won the right to have his son exempted from all religious programs at a local Roman Catholic high school, a ruling that could set a precedent across Ontario.

    A three-member panel of the Ontario divisional court ruled Oliver Erazo’s son Jonathan should not have to attend any religious liturgies or retreats at Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Brampton under provisions in the provincial Education Act.

    “The court’s decision means my family will no longer have to [live] with this prolonged anguish we have been put through any longer,” said Mr. Erazo.

    “However, it will only be fulfilling when every parent’s and every student’s rights protected in law are respected.”

    He has already secured an exemption for Jonathan to opt out of religious studies after a lengthy battle with the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.

    In a hearing in October, the judges heard arguments relating to specific definitions as outlined under section 42 (13) of the Education Act and how they apply to religious programs and education.

    The Education Act allows students of all faiths to attend Catholic schools, provided they also take religion courses. But parents can write to the relevant school board to ask their child be exempted from “any program or course of study in religious education.”

    In its 16-page ruling released last week, the panel said liturgies and retreats fall under the “programs” definition of the act and should also be exempt.

    Bruce Campbell, a Dufferin-Peel school board spokesman, said it is considering its options.

    “We have 15 days from the date of release of the court’s decision to appeal and would reserve comment at this time,” he said.

    Mr. Erazo and his wife initially chose Notre Dame because it’s the closest to their home and garners favourable ratings on a school-ranking website.

    Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Mr. Erazo’s lawyer, said the panel decided the father was well within his rights to seek the full exemption.

    “I hope this resolves the issue for parents across the province,” he said.

    While the board had initially said Jonathan, who is in grade 11, could stay home from school during morning liturgies, Mr. Erazo wanted his son to be able to work in the school library or office with supervision during such events.

    “I believe this sets a very important precedent that will expose the misinformation Catholic school boards have given to parents and students,” he said.

    “I also hope that the Ministry of Education takes notice of this and demands the Catholic school boards adhere to the Education Act.”

    He expects the decision will help other families seeking similar redress.

    “Even now, I have heard of students fighting to get the exemption to religious studies in my son’s school. I can only imagine how many families had their rights denied and are now having their rights denied.”

    Kyle Naylor, a Midland, Ont., resident, has become a resource for Ontario parents seeking religious exemptions for their children attending Catholic schools.

    “The court ruling only confirms the intention of the architects of the act when it included open-access legislation with the extension of funding to Catholic high schools in 1985,” said Mr. Naylor, who also operates a website for parents called http://www.myexemption.com.

    “What is exciting about this ruling is it brings to light this little known right. Unlike my situation and many others, parents don’t have to endure months of battling to obtain their exemption, they can simply opt out of religion classes and participation in things such as mass and liturgies with a letter to the board and reference to this court case.”


  13. Catholic schools force students to study religion despite court order

    by KATE HAMMER - EDUCATION REPORTER, The Globe and Mail August 12, 2014

    Catholic schools in Ontario are requiring students to take religious courses despite a recent court decision that ruled they can’t be forced to attend.

    In multiple correspondences reviewed by The Globe and Mail, Catholic school board officials from across the province have denied requests from Catholic high-school students that they be excused from religious studies on the basis that their parents are Catholic school ratepayers.

    All of those students requested the exemptions for academic reasons, in hopes of spending more time on courses important to university applications and apprenticeship programs. But the boards contend that Catholic students aren’t eligible for the exemption because they aren’t eligible to attend public schools.

    However, Michael Barrett, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, said all students are eligible to attend public schools regardless of their parents’ property-tax designations. “We take everyone,” he said.

    Property owners are asked to designate themselves as supporters of either Catholic or public schools. While this affected school-board funding in the past, it no longer does – as of 1997, school boards have been funded solely by the province.

    The issue of whether Catholic schools can require students to participate in religious programs – not just courses, but also liturgies and retreats – was the subject of a recent court case brought by a Brampton father against the Peel-Dufferin Catholic District School Board. A panel of three judges ruled in April that students had a right to be exempted from religious programs. Catholic school officials are interpreting that decision as applying only to those students whose parents declared themselves as public-school supporters.

    The Durham Catholic District School Board gave that reason when it rejected Carolyn Borgstadt’s request for an exemption for her son, Cameron, who has been diagnosed with autism. He is about to enter Grade 12 and hopes one day to work in construction. The 17-year-old will need strong math skills to succeed in an apprenticeship, and his parents believe he would be better upgrading his math credits than learning about faith.

    But Ms. Borgstadt said she has been told by the school principal that Cameron isn’t entitled to an exemption. “I feel that my son has been cheated,” she said. “It’s 70 minutes every day for an entire semester. Nobody needs that much religion, particularly when you’re talking about a child who’s struggling in the school.”

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  14. Unless they are granted an exemption, students attending publicly funded Catholic high schools are expected to take four religion courses, one at each grade level. Once a semester, for 70 minutes a day, they learn about the Catholic faith as well as other world religions.

    London-resident Sam Dias sought an exemption for his daughter, Marissa, after she expressed concern that a religious course would distract from her math and science courses. Marissa will be entering Grade 9 at Saint André Bessette Catholic Secondary School this fall, and hopes to get into a competitive science undergraduate program when she graduates high school.

    Her application for an exemption was denied, even after her father changed his tax designation to become a public-school supporter. “I’m angry,” Mr. Dias said. “They are trying to pull the wool over my eyes.”

    Linda Staudt, director of the London Catholic District School Board, pointed to a section of the Ontario Education Act that says students eligible to attend a public high school cannot be required to take part in religious programs. That group, she wrote in an e-mail, does not include Catholic students whose parents designate themselves Catholic school supporters on property tax statements.

    A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education declined to comment on individual cases and pointed to the Education Act.

    The ministry or the courts may soon be forced to decide the issue as Catholic schools reject requests for exemptions so regularly that Kyle Naylor has developed a website designed to help parents advocate for their children. Mr. Naylor, a parent from Midland, Ont., said he advises parents to get their tax designation changed and to get documents supporting their status as public-school supporters.

    Ricardo Barbo spent most of last school year trying to win an exemption for his son so he could focus on getting top marks for his university applications. He applied to change his tax designation in January, but he was told by the Ottawa Catholic School Board that until the tax designation was official his son would be required to take a religion credit.

    Mr. Barbo’s son didn’t get into his top-choice university program, and his father regrets that he wasn’t able to spend the time studying in the library instead.

    “It had nothing to do with religion, nothing against the courses or what was being taught,” Mr. Barbo said. “It was simply about my son’s dedication and getting into his goal university.”


  15. Public schools shouldn’t preach. But they should teach kids about religion.

    If we want kids to understand their world, they need to know the basics about different faith traditions.

    By Linda K. Wertheimer, THE WASHINGTON POST September 8, 2015

    Linda K. Wertheimer, a journalism lecturer at Boston University and a former education editor for the Boston Globe, is the author of "Faith Ed.: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance."

    The day Jesus entered my fourth-grade classroom, my childhood forever changed.

    It was 1974, and my family had just moved from western New York state to rural Ohio. I was the new kid, and all I wanted was to fit in. But one afternoon that first week, a woman hired by local churches walked into my public-school classroom and my regular teacher left. She stuck figures of Jesus Christ and his disciples on a flannel board, told us how Jesus could solve people’s problems and, a little while later, asked us all to sing the hymn, “Jesus Loves Me.”

    Here’s the thing: I’m Jewish.

    I didn’t know the song and I didn’t believe in Jesus. I told my parents and they complained to the school, but the agreed-upon resolution was excusing me from this weekly religious instruction. My brothers and I were the only Jewish kids in the school system, and every week when it came time for religion class, my 11-year-old brother and I were, effectively, banished by our classroom teachers.

    That was roughly 40 years ago, and if this sort of proselytizing were the norm today, I’d certainly understand why many parents remain skittish about outsourcing the teaching of basics about different religions to the public schools. But if anything, when disputes arise over teaching about religion as part of public school curriculum, educators wind up getting the message that they might be better off playing it safe and shying away from the subject, even at a moment when it’s critical that children are equipped with an understanding of various religions and the role they play in today’s world — particularly the religion that’s so often misunderstood: Islam.

    Take the example of Wellesley Middle School in suburban Boston. In the fall of 2010, a parent chaperone, concerned about a sixth-grade field trip to a local mosque, videotaped a handful of students who appeared to kneel and pray in a line of male worshippers. The kids were only copying what they saw, but critics said the kids were effectively learning to “pray to Allah.”

    The idea of children praying in a mosque on a school-sponsored trip raised fears that the program was forcing religion on unsuspecting children. And the school system rightly acknowledged that the boys shouldn’t have wound up participating in the prayer — they should have only observed. But for more than a decade, Wellesley has been getting it right when it comes to teaching about religion, and the school’s detractors have come primarily from outside of the district. Most Wellesley parents I interviewed around the time of the incident appreciated that their 11- and 12-year-olds spent a semester learning about Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

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  16. Every year at Minneha Core Knowledge Magnet Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas, first graders learn about Judaism, Christianity and Islam over the course of several weeks — a curriculum the school has stood by, in spite of a misunderstanding two years ago about a bulletin board that illustrated the Five Pillars of Islam.

    On occasion, yes, schools get into public messes over where the line is drawn between church and state — like recent reports of a “mass baptism” taking place on campus prior to a Georgia high school’s football practice.

    But in my travels around the country reporting for my book, “Faith Ed.: Teaching About Religion in An Age of Intolerance,” I didn’t see teachers trying to preach Christianity — or any — faith. I saw educators trying to provide kids with facts about the histories and practices of world religions, including faiths about which few students knew anything.

    And the takeaway isn’t that there’s a danger our schools will veer toward religious indoctrination. It’s that schools should do more to give religion a firm place in the curriculum, beginning as early as the elementary grades. That way, kids will be prepared, as they grow, to evaluate what they see every night on cable TV based on real information, rather than a set of stereotypes.

    They should know the difference between Shi’a and Sunni Islam — not as a perfunctory nod to diversity, but because they’ll be able to better form opinions about the Middle East conflicts that dominate the news. They should know the difference between Sikhism and Hinduism, considering that those are the respective religions of the last two prime ministers of India — the world’s largest democracy. They should have a historical perspective on the differences between Catholicism and Protestant denominations when the pope visits their country, as he’s doing this month. It’s problematic, as Texas State University’s Joseph Laycock notes, to wait for college to teach religion as a subject, because “many Americans never have the opportunity to go to college.”

    There are parents and educators who consider first grade too early to teach about religion in school, but as the parent of a 7-year-old, I believe it’s the ideal time to start increasing children’s awareness about our pluralistic society. Consider that in a Pew survey a few years ago, just 45 percent of Americans could identify Friday as the start of the Jewish Sabbath. That’s the sort of rudimentary knowledge that can, and should, be explained in elementary school.

    No, we can’t expect kids to grasp all the nuances of the major world religions and the controversies surrounding them, but if we’re preparing kids to be thoughtful citizens of the world, they should know something about people in their community who may be different from themselves. My son has been attending religious school since kindergarten. He knows the major figures in Judaism as well as the holidays. But ask him what Easter is about — other than bunnies and colorful eggs — and he really has no idea. I’m happy that he knows his own religious heritage, but I also want him to know more about his peers’ different traditions.

    In my conversations with students about world religion courses, young people told me about their experiences being bullied because of their faiths. A 24-year-old Sikh man recalled the humiliation he felt at age 5 when fellow kindergartners made fun of his patka, his traditional religious head covering. A Muslim sixth-grader remembered a classmate’s taunt from a few years before: “Do you have a bomb in your locker?” Muslims talk about being stigmatized every time a news story breaks about a terrorist who has a connection to Islam.

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  17. Unfortunately theres no consensus about developing best practices for teaching about religion in public schools. At best, America’s schools, which have long had a tumultuous relationship with religion, largely because of prayer-in-school battles, are in flux. The country has only one school system, Modesto, Calif., that requires a world religions course for graduation. Minneha, in Wichita, goes in a different direction, among roughly 1,200 private and public schools that utilize Core Knowledge, a well-known, but not widely adopted curriculum.

    The First Amendment proscribes “establishment” of religion, but clearly leaves room for schools to teach about religion. And while 70 percent of Americans still identify as Christian and we still debate whether we’re “a Christian nation,” those who argue for the installation of religious values in public schools are on Constitutionally shaky ground — as are those who say instruction that explains religion has to be banned.

    Educators and religion scholars of today generally agree that Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark did the most to elevate religion’s place as an academic subject in the 1963 Abington v. Schempp case, banning teacher-led prayer, in which he wrote: “It might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization.” Yet many middle and high school teachers spend only a few days discussing religion as the topic comes up in social studies. It’s unusual to do much of anything at the elementary level.

    Despite efforts over the last several decades, moves to develop courses and training for teaching religion have begun and often fizzled, even though most states now have standards that call for a religion component in social studies and geography.

    We need to resurrect those efforts, because the time to become a more religiously literate people is overdue.

    After 9/11, wrote John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, “It is no longer a question of whether schools should teach children about Islam. They must teach them — about other religions as well. It is a responsibility, a duty.” Nationally, we need to renew dialogue about the best way to teach about religion, how to better train teachers and how early the lessons should begin. We need an understanding that it’s not only okay to teach about religion in schools, but vital. Too often, knee-jerk reactions to lessons on religion come from adults who harbor misconceptions they otherwise might not have if they, themselves, had a broader base of knowledge about different religions.

    Education can’t eliminate ignorance, but it can reduce it. The same Muslim boy who was teased in elementary school described how peers stood up for him in a later incident and chided a substitute teacher for claiming that all Muslims were terrorists. The students had remembered the lesson from sixth grade that it was wrong to stereotype based on religion.

    Education is essential if we hope to facilitate a broader conversation. We can’t effectively debate whether Islam is a religion of peace — as its defenders say — or if it is inherently bellicose — as its critics suggest — until we first have a body politic that knows the basics.

    Education might have prevented what happened to me as a kid. I returned to my alma mater in 2013 to find my school system teaching about religion as part of social studies and teens respectful of other faiths even though few personally knew a non-Christian. The difference? In the ’70s and ’80s, my peers and I lacked what all schools should have today: teachers who can guide students through a healthier discussion about religious differences and similarities.