Association of Catholic Parents in Quebec

May 26, 2005 08:00 ET

In the name of religious freedom, parents must react!

Attention: Education Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor MONTREAL, QC--(CCNMatthews - May 26, 2005) - The Government of Quebec is on the verge of depriving parents of the right to choose religious instruction for their children in accordance with their convictions and beliefs. This right is included in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, according to Jocelyne st-Cyr, coordinator of the Committee for the Renewal of the Notwithstanding Clause (CRNC).

The Committee hopes that the population will make known to the Quebec Government, its desire to maintain the parents' choice in religious education. In recent years in Quebec, more than 80% of parents have consistently chosen Catholic moral and religious instruction for their children of primary school age and more than 60% have done so at the secondary level. Since the fall of 2004, more than 70,000 signatures have been collected in a petition presented to the National Assembly on the 24th of March, 2005. Parents are asking for the right to choose, for respect of religious freedom and for the recognition that they are the primary educators of their children.

But on its part, the Government has announced its intention to impose a mandatory program of "ethics and religious culture" on all students from the beginning of primary school to the end of high school, as of September 2008. This program would replace the present optional courses of Catholic and Protestant moral and religious teaching and of moral teaching without religion. "What we also find objectionable", says, St-Cyr, "is that, as early as September 2005, the proposed bill would allow a school to offer the course in ethics and religious culture." In such a case, all students of that school would have to follow the new program and would lose the right to choose.

Jocelyne Ct-Cyr objects to the fact that this new program of religious culture would include, along with Judeo-Christian content, an exploration of the religious traditions of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism as well as new religious movements and native spirituality. Besides these, the program will deal with secular views such as atheism and Marxism.

At first sight, parents may think that it will be to their children's advantage to receive teachings on religions and world views other than their own, which might explain the results of some polls, according to the CRNC. However, Doctor Jean Morse-Chevrier, psychologist and parent forewarns parents against exposing children and young adolescents to a variety of religious contents, with very different conceptions of God, from one to the other. "There is a serious risk of causing confusion in children and young adolescents", she says. "At such a young age, they do not yet master formal thinking which allows one to understand and compare different religions with objectivity and discernment." "It could give rise to religious syncretism in adolescents", according to Doctor Morse-Chevrier. The CRNC is convinced that there are other ways of sensitising children to different religious realities without jeopardising their own religious freedom, and that this is what parents really want.

"Unfortunately", says St-Cyr, "the State is taking the place of parents in imposing a single course on all students and is robbing them of their rights as primary educators of their children." "In a society that prides itself on democracy, the State is about to deprive a strong majority of parents of the freedom to exercise their right to choose the moral and religious education of their own children", she adds. "In the province of Quebec, the State will impose on all citizens a religious education program developed by it and given by it under its own conditions. This will be done in the name of …separation of Church and State", she concludes.

Contact Information

  • Jocelyne St-Cyr, Coordinator, Committee for the Renewal of the Notwithstanding Clause
    Primary Phone: 819-352-0760