SHOULD SCHOOLS TEACH RELIGION?

This fall the moral and religious education course in Quebec’s schools will be replaced by the new Ethics and Religious Culture program. This means that these schools will no longer be allowed to provide religious instruction in the class-room. Generations of Quebecers, both Catholic and Protestant, have grown up expecting the schools to provide religious instruction.

The new course will explain the beliefs of major faiths in a neutral way.  But what is the student, say in Grade 1, supposed o do with this material.  Evaluate it?  In Grade 1?

The assumption behind the government’s new program on Ethics and Religious Culture seems to be that religious instruction belongs in the home and in places of worship, not in schools.

This is precisely the point the leader of the Opposition, Mario Dumont, is arguing against.  To him, the new course deliberately ignores Quebec’s reality and heritage.  Dumont wants Quebec children to be taught what they are, and not what they might become.

A number of parents’ groups agree with Dumont.   They fear that their right to choose their childrens’ religious instruction will be undermined.

Do you think some Catholic and Protestant religious instruction should be retained in the class-room perhaps as an option?

Do you think little children can evaluate the worth of various religions?

Should Quebec’s schools be entirely secular?

What if the tenets of the new Religious Culture Program collide with what the child is being taught by his or her parents at home?

9 Comments »

  1. 1
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    While I grew up, Québec’s schools, all levels of them, were owned, financed and staffed by nuns, brothers and priests on the catholic side and by missionary minded people on the protestant side. Each community took care of its own, jews included. In the 60s when the first ministry of education, under Paul gérin-Lajoie, was created and religious schools began getting governmemnt subsidies they began their extinction trek. Back then, Québec was 90% catholic, 18% protestant and 2% jewish. Or just about.
    Today the picture is quite different. We have no choice but to go secular. Religion is now a private family matter and is best left to the family and the religious group it belongs to, if such is the case. Young children, before adolescence just do not have the knowledge and mind set to establish differential judgements. I know people my age who still do not have it so the planned course should not introduced at the elementary level.
    Mario Dumont still lives in the 50 years ago Québec. many parents want the religious courses kept in schools because they feel not quite up to transmitting those values to their children since, by and large, they have given only lip servive to them.

  2. 2
    Barbara Says:

    I think Paul has it right (except for the math!). I went to a secular elementary school in the States. We were aware of the Jewish holidays and what they signified. If there was a significant Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist community, we would have learned about their holidays. We shared and we appreciated other celebrations than the ones we had at home. Our religious education was given through released time on Wednesday afternoons. Catholic kids went across the street to the parish church and, when it was built, the parochial school. Other faiths had the opportunity to attend their religious education classes, although I don’t think many churches organized such classes for their communities. Jewish kids went to the shul on weekends and the Protestants went to Sunday school. If you wanted a more integrated faith education, you attended a parochial or other religiously-based private school, if your parents could afford it.
    People have to learn how to live together and enrich one another.

  3. 3
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    I never was a math whiz but the 90% was a slip of a finger to the wrong key. Should have been 80% not 90.

  4. 4
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “The new course will explain the beliefs of major faiths in a neutral way. But what is the student, say in Grade 1, supposed o do with this material. Evaluate it? In Grade 1?”

  5. 5
    Joe Agnost Says:

    “The new course will explain the beliefs of major faiths in a neutral way.”

    This is fine. A history class or religion 101 (social science) would be an interesting course – provided it was taught in a neutral way!

    “But what is the student, say in Grade 1, supposed to do with this material. Evaluate it? In Grade 1?”

    No – the course shouldn’t be about evalutating which religion suits your needs. It should simply teach the history or certian religions and the FACTS about what they are. When students start learning geography and history (grade 3-ish) then they’d be ready for this course.
    Grade 1 might be too young.

    But I want to stress that this shouldn’t be about choosing a religion – but simply learning about them.

    “religious instruction belongs in the home and in places of worship, not in schools.”

    True – I wouldn’t advocate teaching the ‘warm and fuzzies’ of any religion but instead the FACTS about them. From a historical or social sciences aspect this could be interesting and foster understanding.

    “Dumont wants Quebec children to be taught what they are, and not what they might become.”

    How the hell does he plan to do that?? Classes are filled with students from many different faiths… he must think everyone is catholic or something – how rude.

    “Do you think some Catholic and Protestant religious instruction should be retained in the class-room perhaps as an option?

    Hell no…

    “Do you think little children can evaluate the worth of various religions?”

    No – which is why I think parents who indoctrinate their kids in religion are kinda cruel (not really 🙂 – just kinda)

    “Should Quebec’s schools be entirely secular?”

    Yes – what other choice is there?? The only other FAIR choice is faith-based private schools.

    “What if the tenets of the new Religious Culture Program collide with what the child is being taught by his or her parents at home?”

    So what? The new course shouldn’t be teaching religion as a way to live life – it should be purely historical (accurate) and social science based.

    It’s like the whole “ID” fight going on in the US right now… in science class they teach evolution. That is because evolution is science. If some kid wants to believe that god made the earth in 7 days 6000 years ago then they have the choice to either fail science class or suspend their religious opinion and learn evolution.
    A student’s religion shouldn’t factor into their schooling.

  6. 6
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Joe, something must be wrong somewhere! For once, I agree with you 100%! I’ll go see my shrink forthwith.

  7. 7
    Chimera Says:

    So far, I’m in agreement with everyone. Is your shrink seeing new patients, Paul? 😆

  8. 8
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    He gave up his licence after seeing me.

  9. 9
    Joe Agnost Says:

    Paul: I like to throw a curve ball every once in a while… keep y’all thinking on your feet! 🙂


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