Grant Rants

Religion in schools: can open, worms everywhere

- September 24th, 2012

Greetings web denizens, heathens, zealots and the rest of you!

So still following up with the article I wrote about religion in school last week.

I had the opportunity to talk to the parent who is suing the Hamilton school board so he has the right to withdraw his children from lessons he deems are against his religious belief, particularly lessons that involve homosexuality.

Steve Tourloukis and I chatted for a while and he seems a decent and honest guy. I think he is totally wrong on this issue, but the conversation was very civil and, if nothing else, Steve isn’t out to convert the world or try and ruin public education.

He makes a good point, one that isn’t covered much in the press he is getting. The parents of other religions already get to remove their children from classes they find theologically offensive or are given a wide berth to avoid material that offenses their faith. Whether it’s Muslim girls not having to take gym class because shorts and a t-shirt violate their modesty rules, or JVS not having to listen to lessons that talk about Easter or Christmas, he says exceptions for the religious are already being made all over the school board. In fact, it’s in the board’s official documentation about religious accommodation. True, the board is careful to point out in this documentation, which can be found on the Hamilton-Wentworth school board’s website, that there are limits to religious accommodation and that it cannot do anything that violates provincial regulations.

Nonetheless, Steve believes what he is asking for is no different than what is already given to other parents for essentially the same reason.

While I think that he if he is successful in court it will have  deleterious impact on the education system to properly educate students, he does have a point. In many ways, Pandora’s Box has already been opened. The question now is not to further warp public education, but to find a way to close the box.

Categories: education, Isn't it absurd?, News, philosophy, politics, religion, science, The Grant Rant

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3 comments

  1. Dante says:

    Now that you have brought up the issue of religion in public schools, what is your take on the demands by Muslims in Ottawa that the school board provide prayer rooms for them? Shall we have synagogues as well, and maybe a Buddhist temple?

    • grant.lafleche says:

      While I think there is nothing wrong with having an all-purpose prayer-meditation room for students use in public schools, I do not think any individual religion should be able to demand specific space solely for it’s own use. That is Muslims cannot ask for a Muslims-only room, Christians for a Christian room etc.

      It is also worth keeping mind that schools these days have limited resources and it may not always be possible for schools to have dedicated space solely for religious purposes. Remember, these are schools not temples or churches. Their primary function is to educate, not create prayer space. When a dedicated space for prayer is not possible or available those students will have to do what they do know, which is what ALL students have to do when trying to arrange space for clubs and other student run extra school activities – use what space they can get from the school.

      A dedicated space would be ideal, but where one is not readily possible, students will have to learn to make due and the schools should not be forced to use what little resources they have for special rooms set up for religion.

      • Diana Anderson says:

        Or….. not have any space in the public school for religious purpose and let them pray at home, in the Mosque/church/synagog/Separate schools etc.
        If we have a complete separation of church and state we would end all of this fighting about space for worship within our schools.

        It seems to me that the idea of separation of Church and State is being wittered away, we are allowing religion to slip in slowly through the back door. we accommodate a little…Then a little more etc. where does it end? Why are we even paying for catholic schools?
        If Muslims need to pray 5 times a day and want dedicated space to do that, Then they should have Muslim schools to go to.
        Did we not decide to remove religion from our public schools some years ago? What on earth are we doing now? going backwards? Why? Are we so scared of offending some religion or another that we have to open the back door and let them slide in? (Maybe the public won’t notice).
        This argument should NOT exist. This subject was dealt with years ago! Our school boards should not be able to override or twist decisions made by the government and the taxpayers.
        No religion in public schools! End of!.

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