16 September, 2010

Why 'public' should not mean 'atheist'

Why 'public' should not mean 'atheist'


  1. I have never defined "public" to mean "atheist." But I don't define it to be allied with any single culture or religion, either.

    "'Public' means 'publically funded' and, when properly understood, there is room in our law and principles for both public religious education and public religious schools, and no room for one 'secularized curriculum' or an atheist or agnostically dominated 'public' in the way this is all too often suggested or implied. Not allowing publicly funded religious education is a blatant infringement of religious liberty, or should be seen as such."

    There is a huge problem with that attitude, and it comes back yet again to the "one size must be made to fit all" philosophy. It does not work that way! One size has never fitted all, and it never will. Most especially when it comes to a beleaguered taxpayer who has no choice but to pay for the education and training of those from a culture or religion who are determined to wipe his religion and culture from their presence.

    So, until we can all learn to play nicely with one another, I'm afraid I'm on the side of the atheists on this one. Religion and culture need to be banished entirely from the public education system. Anyone who wants a religious education can either get it at home or pay for it themselves. After all, no one is paying for my religious schooling. Why should I pay for anyone else's?

  2. Lady Janus: Religion AND culture? Not possible. As to religious education, if you are able to change the Canadian Constitution (the BNA) to remove the right of Catholics to maintain their own school system (as was done in Quebec and NFLD) then you could take religion out of schools. But it is not possible to remove 'culture' as that is the very social 'air' that we breathe.

    Fr. Tim

  3. Newfoundland and Quebec did it, Ontario should follow suit. Public education should be for everyone and not broken down by religion. In this way children of all creeds or indeed not at all learn to live with each other. Religions are free to teach their religion at their houses of worship but not in publically funded schools. It will eventally happen, but it may take years.

  4. Tim, I wasn't arguing against Catholics' having their own schools. Or any other religious schools, for that matter (I think there are Hebrew schools for Jews, are there not? And I know there are Khalsa schools) I just don't want the taxpayers to have to pay for them. Unless, of course, we're going to publicly fund all religious schooling. That would be fair. But funding one to the exclusion of all others? No.

    And I think you and I might have different ideas about what constitutes "culture," or the teaching of it. Personally, I don't think Canada has its own culture. Communities tend to have their own individual cultutres in which all/most of their residents live. And while I really like experiencing all those individual cultures for however much time I spend in each one, it's simply not possible to teach them all in a tax-funded public school system!

    As an example: I'm currently helping to organise a multi-faith adventure geared for children between the ages of four and six. Leaders of different religions and cultures in my city are putting together a series of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, social events, each one hosted by a different culture/religion/ethnic group. Participation is strictly voluntary, but all groups are being invited. And each host group is paying its own ticket. We have, to date, participation by Jews, Sikhs, Jains, Buddists, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, Baha'i, Mormons, First Nations, and possibly a few others since I last checked the roster.

    The Catholics have refused. So have most of the mainstream Christian groups. They want nothing to do with multi-faceted dialogs; they want to be the only ones talking, all others to do the listening and nodding in agreement. But they want those taxpayer dollars! Paid by the very groups they're shunning!

    No thank you. If teaching culture in public schools at public expense is not going to be all-inclusive (and that simply is not feasible), then it should be non-existent.


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