News Roundup: Education Edition

Two religious battles over education now appear to be shaping up in this country: one over religious education in Québec, and the other over new parental rights legislation in Alberta.

The Albertan controversy, which has been discussed previously on this site as well as on other blogs, is being covered regularly by Big City Lib, who writes that the Stelmach government now seems open to looking at some amendments to address concerns from teachers over chilling effects in science classrooms:

You know, one thing politicians know how to do better than anyone is count votes. The Stelmach government looked around and realized that the over-haul of their Human Rights Act would involve balancing the demands of the Gay and SoCon communities. If Speechies got stiffed (and they did), that’s because the Stelmach government realized there weren’t enough of them to be worth the fuss.

Another perspective, critical of the implications of Bill 44, has also been offered in the Calgary Herald by pundit Rob Breakenridge. Views from the other side have been offered by blogs such as No Apologies, which recently accused a Religious Right Alert author of being “McCarthyite.”

Meanwhile, over in Québec, religious right forces are gathering in opposition to
the new Ethics and Religious Culture which is intended to replace existing religious instruction on morality with a new comparative look at various world faiths’ approaches to moral questions. The course has been controversial among many parts of society, not just the religious right, but it is from religious sources that a pair of legal challenges have recently originated.

Several organizations have emerged in support of the legal cases. One, naturally, is the Catholic Civil Rights League, which recently released a press release on the matter here, in which it defends “the right of parents to direct the education of their children, and in particular to choose the religious education of their children” (thanks to No Apologies for the link).

Another supportive organization is the Canadian Constitution Foundation, currently led by former Reform candidate John Carpay. In a Globe and Mail op-ed, he argues that the course is superficial, “inherently anti-religious,” and a case of “state-imposed… relativism.” As RevDave of Terrible Depths observed, Carpay’s foundation is funded by the Donner Foundation and Aurea Foundation and draws personnel from Civitas, the Physicians for Life, the Montreal Economic Institute, and the Fraser Institute.

Religious Right Alert will continue to follow developments in both these disputes.

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