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Friday, September 4, 2009

The Right to Be Ignorant


Joe over at Joe.My.God. has a post about a lawsuit in Quebec, Canada brought by conservative Christianist parents that want no part of the Provence of Quebec's mandatory curriculum which teaches about all the major religions in Quebec, including Native Canadian spirituality. Joe references an article from the National Post. The Christianist parents did not want their children to learn about any other religion than their own.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Guy Dubois dismissed a bid by parents in Drummondville, Que., who said the course on ethics and religious culture introduced across the province last year was undermining their efforts to instill Christian faith in their children.

"In light of all the evidence presented, the court does not see how the ... course limits the plaintiff's freedom of conscience and of religion for the children when it provides an overall presentation of various religions without obliging the children to adhere to them," Judge Dubois wrote.

The National Post article further states:

In his ruling, Judge Dubois cited a Catholic theologian who testified that religious instruction is primarily the responsibility of parents, not schools. He added that there is a commitment on the part of the Catholic church to understand other religions.

The Quebec government, which intervened in the case in support of the Des Chênes school board, argued that the course was objective and in no way limited parents' ability to pass their religious beliefs on to their children. Teaching children about other religions is a way to promote "equality, respect and tolerance in the Quebec school system," it said.

I wholeheartedly agree with the position of the Court. I also find the views of Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, a law professor at Université de Sherbrooke, to be quit enlightened:

"What parents were demanding was the right to ignorance, the right to protect their children from being exposed to the existence of other religions," he said. "This right to ignorance is certainly not protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of religion does not protect the right not to know what is going on in our universe."

He said the course is aimed not at instilling religious values but at trying "to explain to these children the diversity in which we now live in Quebec."

Back in the United States, we find a similar desire on the part of Christianists to shelter their children from reality-based instruction. Home schooling, private Christianist schools, and even some public schools that have been turned into charter schools with overt and covert Christianist bents all intend to foster ignorance. The latest evidence of such ignorance is the racism fueled controversy about President Obama's planned message to America's school children about the importance of a good education and the hard work needed to succeed in life. Disrespect for the President of the United States is certainly the lesson that the Christianists are conveying to their children. How very sad for our country. So much for respect and tolerance -- and patriotism.

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