Loyola Christian School is going to the Supreme Court of Canada! After a shocking decision from the Quebec Court of Appeal, Loyola applied to the Supreme Court for a hearing. The Court of Appeal had ruled in December 2012 that it is reasonable for a government to require a Christian school to set aside its Christian worldview for an hour a day in order to teach about other religions. This morning, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed Loyola’s application for an appeal and so the process will begin to prepare for the appeal. ARPA Canada and the Reformed Christian community are very interested in the outcome of this case – Reformed denominations, as a rule, run their own independent schools and the Quebec Court of Appeal decision would pose an incredible infringment on how we “raise up our children in the way they should go.” For some background on the case and what it means for Reformed Christians, click read more.
On December 4, 2012 the Québec Court of Appeal released a shocking decision, one that has direct implications for Reformed education in Canada. Perhaps our readers are wondering how three Quebec judges could possibly have anything to say about an independent Reformed school in Ontario or in Western Canada. Rest assured that they do.
The decision of the Québec Court of Appeal requires Loyola Christian School, a private Roman Catholic institution (not publicly funded), to teach the province’s Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) course, and to teach it from a “secular” perspective. The Court of Appeal decision declared that because Loyola’s own World Religions course is confessionally Catholic in orientation, it could not be considered equivalent to the ERC program, because the ERC course was specifically designed to be religiously “neutral”.
With this ruling, the Court of Appeal chose to overrule the trial judge’s decision, which was based on extensive expert evidence, in favour of the ambitions of the Quebec government, which stated that its program was better suited for greater tolerance in society. Apparently, that tolerance only goes so far. Tolerance of the Roman Catholic or Christian worldview seems… intolerable. The irony of this ruling could only be lost on judges at the highest levels.
The Québec Court of Appeal has seriously infringed upon the right of parents to direct the religious education of their children. This precedent-setting decision creates a dilemma for Catholic parents in Quebec, and indeed all Christian parents who may seek to send their children to a private or independent Christian school to avail their children of an authentic moral and religious upbringing in accordance with their faith and religious worldview, a right which a robust understanding of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should recognize and guarantee.
This judgment gives more clout to provincial governments across the country, some of which devalue the religious rights of their citizens and their private, religious institutions. The precedent has now been set for a forced separation between “education” and faith, between mandatory “secular” indoctrination and faithful worldview training.
In fact, with this ruling, the Court set a precedent whereby the government can compel any school (including unfunded Reformed schools!) to set aside its religious beliefs and values in order to teach certain subjects. Can you imagine our Christian teachers having to teach covenant children that the Islamic, Buddhist or Wiccan worldviews are as acceptable as the Christian worldview? Or can you imagine our teachers discussing ethics and morals (not just ethics in business or politics, but in social and legal issues as well, such as abortion or homosexuality) from a position that is “religiously neutral”? Perhaps this is too strange to imagine, but that is what this case stands for… for now.
We were excited and thankful to report that on February 1, Loyola School applied to the Supreme Court of Canada, seeking leave to appeal. And today, we are excited and thankful to report that the Supreme Court has accepted the case for a hearing sometime in the near future. ARPA Canada will continue watching this case very closely. We also plan to intervene at the Supreme Court to advocate for the principle that governments must recognize the paramount role of parents in the education of their children, especially in subjects such as religion, ethics and sexuality.
We ask for your prayers, that the Reformed community might be galvanized to stand up for our God-given right and responsibility to raise our children in the fear of His Name and that the lawyers and judges involved be given true wisdom in wrestling with this case. Pray that the Supreme Court might render a new decision that upholds parental rights in directing the education of their children, informed by their own worldview. The Supreme Court needs to uphold parental rights in education, to protect freedom of religion and association from the totalitarian impulses of government and to recognize and affirm the right and benefit of allowing the Christian worldview to compete in the public square.