Friday, September 4, 2009

Is there a religious right to ignorance?

Seems in Quebec, they have a new law to teach comparative religion in the classroom. Predictably, Christianist loons protested. From Canada's National Post:
Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Guy Dubois dismissed a bid by parents in Drummondville, Que., who said the course on ethics and religious culture introduced across the province last year was undermining their efforts to instill Christian faith in their children.

"In light of all the evidence presented, the court does not see how the ... course limits the plaintiff's freedom of conscience and of religion for the children when it provides an overall presentation of various religions without obliging the children to adhere to them," Judge Dubois wrote.....

As of last year, parents no longer had the right to choose between courses in Catholic, Protestant or moral instruction. The new curriculum covers a broad range of world religions, with particular emphasis on Quebec's religious heritage -- Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and aboriginal spirituality. It is taught from Grade 1 through Grade 11.

The course's scope was too broad for the parents in the Drummondville case, who cannot be named because their two minor children are involved. During the trial, the children's mother testified that she did not see why her 7-year-old son needs to learn about Islam when he is still forming his own Catholic spirituality. "It's very confusing," she said.....

Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, a law professor at Université de Sherbrooke, said he is not surprised that the new course survived a challenge under the Charter of Rights.

"What parents were demanding was the right to ignorance, the right to protect their children from being exposed to the existence of other religions," he said. "This right to ignorance is certainly not protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of religion does not protect the right not to know what is going on in our universe."

8 comments:

it's margaret said...

Yah --as chaplain at a school, I designed curriculum that included the traditions of other religions.... you would have thought I was promoting satanism....

This hits the nail on the head --the right to ignorance!!!! FEH!

Fred Schwartz said...

We teach comparative religion in my Catholic School. It is a matter of critical thinking.

On the other hand it is good to know that stupidity is not yet illegal.

Jim Pratt said...

A member of my parish who is a retired teacher and consultant shared a copy of the outline of the course for the elementary grades. It is very well balanced. My one concern is that its pedagogical methodology speaks of religion as a "cultural phenomenon", and there's some language there that suggests an agnostic, if not atheistic, bias.

The Drummondville challenge was rural, old-school RCs who object to the basic idea of even mentioning other religions in the classroom.

The more interesting challenge is still in the courts, brought by Loyola High School, down the street from me in Montreal, where my warden's son is a student. This is a Jesuit school in a very multi-cultural neighborhood, and has for decades included a comparative religion class. They object to the prescribed class because it forbids them from teaching the subject from a Christian perspective (and by that, they don't mean "all these other religions are false and unenlightened, and it's our duty to convert them to the truth"), and because it forbids them from teaching about morality.

IT said...

Morality is not linked necessarily to faith. THat's part of the problem.

JCF said...

There's no such thing as "Christian comparative religion": it's Either/Or!

[I briefly taught (what was essentially a) Comparative Religion at a Catholic university (w/ a diverse student body, of many/no faith). I made clear my own personal POV: I'm a Christian of the Episcopal variety. I invited them to examine my instruction for any bias thereby. At the same time, I told them that while they were each inevitably going to bring their own belief-systems to bear on the curriculum, they were nevertheless enjoined to approach the material as objectively as possible (and that, more importantly, no one's perspective, including my own, was any more "correct" than anyone else's. We ALL have to be on our guard for unfair biases). This can be a tough nut to crack! ;-/]

David said...

"Is there a religious right to ignorance?"

Dunno. But I sure see more than a fair share of ignorance on the Religious Right...

(sorry IT, but that was a blatant setup ;)

IT said...

David, David. It was an INTENTIONAL setup!

David said...

heh, heh... ::snort::

I figured ;->