mardi 19 mai 2009

No neutral ground in religion and ethics class

Lettre ouverte envoyée à la Gazette par John Vaudry de Montréal.
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to why some parents object to the new course on Religion and Ethics that is now mandated in Québec schools. Shouldn't we all know something of what others believe? And if the course aims at promoting tolerance and "the common good," how could any right-thinking person be against it? Conservative Catholics and evangelicals are among the main opponents of the course. Those I know want a society in which all people (whatever they profess to believe or not believe) might live and let live. There ought to be at least civility among us, and in many cases co-operation for the common good.

However, this does not mean that children in Grade 1 must be taught about world religions. If parents and church teach, for example, that Jesus is Lord over all yet the school says Jesus is but one of many religious teachers (and how can it do otherwise?), there will inevitably be confusion in the child's mind. The notion that such a course can be taught from a neutral point of view is a myth. Not to decide is to decide. Either the school affirms that everyone should bow before Jesus or it does not. There is no neutral ground.

Similarly, it is questionable whether ethics can be taught from some supposedly neutral perspective. The teacher always has a bias (whether Christian, humanist, utilitarian, etc.) which will be virtually impossible to conceal. Big Brother needs to stop encroaching on the rights of parents.

John Vaudry, Montréal

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