• John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

The Supreme Court & Education about Religion

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled on the matter of education about ethics and religion in Quebec Catholic schools. The course required of all students in the public system is to be taught also in private Christian schools, as the government of Quebec seeks to ensure that all of its citizens–and those in its educational system who are being trained to become citizens–have a grasp of the history and contemporary complexion of religion in Quebec. The course also aims to help students learn how to make ethical decisions intelligently.

Despite worry and protests from various Christian groups, including groups I usually support, the Supreme Court has made the right decision. Christians have embarrassed themselves, in fact, by refusing to get behind the idea that all Canadians should have an education in the religious make-up of our society that is not biased toward or against any particular religion. Some parents (and some Christian lawyers and activists who ought to know better) seem to be confusing a state-mandated course that must reflect the neutrality of the Canadian state toward each particular religion with a  relativism that teaches that all religions are, in fact, equally valid. The latter proposition is both patently ridiculous and not at all implied by the Quebec curriculum, and parents (and others) should stop being worried about it–and worrying others about it.

Not quite a year ago I set out my arguments at some length in this weblog–arguments I just made in Calgary at that city’s annual public school teachers’ convention–so I won’t repeat them in this space. But the arguments apparently have to be repeated among my own tribe of Canadian evangelical Christians, among certain Catholic Christians, and beyond. So I direct you to them once more in case you’re interested.