In 2008, the Quebec government introduced a compulsory program — Ethics and Religious Culture — requiring schools including Catholic and private Christian/church schools in the province to teach all religions including paganism, Wicca and Christianity.
The program also forbids teachers, including those in Christian schools, from presenting their personal views on the material. They must present all religions as “equally valid.”
According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom everyone has the freedom of religion and conscience and can’t be forced to compromise their religious convictions.
The Canadian Charter reads:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
Quebec had a similar provision in its provincial charter which the government modified to enforce its new program.
Shortly after the program was introduced, Montreal-based Loyola High School challenged the legality of the new curriculum in the courts claiming it was an attack on religious freedom. Loyola is a Catholic school run by Jesuits.
However, in the Quebec-based courts, Loyola lost and it appealed the lower court’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has agreed to hear the case.
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) along with other faith-based organizations were allowed to join Loyola in its Supreme Court challenge. The ADF is a non-profit organization consisting of 2,300 lawyers who have joined together to defend freedom.
In its brief to the Supreme Court, ADF said:
“The motivation for the ministerial decision is clear and obvious. It is the same motivation that drives any jurisdiction to enact anti-blasphemy laws: the protection of religion. The protection of religion is a laudable objective, if done right. Unfortunately for Loyola, it was done wrong in this case and has led to limits on the religious speech of Loyola staff and students simply because the speech is religious.”
“Unfortunately for Quebec, the ministerial decision places the government of Quebec with governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan, where Catholics daily face limitations on what they can say for fear of being charged with the violation of anti-blasphemy laws.”
“The most important consideration in this appeal is the nature of a religious school. That nature precludes teachers and administrators from abandoning their faith for one class or one hour during the school day, without fundamentally changing the character of the school.”
Brett Harvey, senior Counsel for ADF added, “All faith-based institutions must be free to speak and act consistently with their faith.”
The Canada Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case by the end of the year.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASV)
This is a serious case that could potentially affect Christian and faith-based church schools and home schoolers across Canada. The Apostle Paul exhorts us not only to pray for our political leaders, but “all who are in authority.” This includes Supreme Court Judges.
Click here for a list of Canada’s current Supreme Court judges, please pray God will move on their hearts. Proverbs 21:1 tells us the King’s heart is in God’s hand and the Lord is willing to move on their hearts, if we will pray.
The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord;
He turns it wherever He wishes. (Proverbs 21:1 NASV)
The Province of Quebec is embroiled in an election and people will go to the polls April 7, 2014 to choose a new government.
The ruling party that brought in the legislation is the Party Québécois, arguably the most left-leaning provincial government in Canada. They are also a separatist party and has publicly stated if elected it will pursue Quebec separation from Canada through a provincial referendum.
The party has held two referendums on separations in the past, both of which the people of Quebec rejected.