on religious liberty in Canada

In our ministry, we have discovered that it is best to leave politics aside. We are making disciples of Christ, not Milton Friedman (or any other political philosophy). But the politics of our nation do have a bearing on our mission.

We don’t expect much out of government. These expectations are often met! The one thing we do expect is to be left alone. The sphere of our activities really have nothing to do with the state and we would prefer that the state would stay out of our sphere of activities.

Thus, it is disturbing when news occurs that threatens religious freedom in any way. The same-sex marriage issue certainly has the potential for political interference on religious freedom, but so far has only had very limited effects. However, this story out of Quebec seems to have some chilling ramifications.

Last year, the director of a local school board filed a complaint regarding unregistered Christian schools in Quebec. The complaint was not about their unregistered status, apparently this is allowed in Quebec. Rather, the complaint was about the failure of these schools to teach Darwinian evolution and sex education. On Oct 12, the CBC reported that the Quebec government was apparently ignoring the schools.

Quebec has quietly tolerated evangelical schools that are not recognized by and do not have permits from the province’s Ministry of Education.

Today’s Family News, a Focus on the Family website, reported the same optimism on Oct 18.

Tuesday’s article in the National Post, linked above, dispells that optimism. The opening paragraph reveals that the independent schools must teach Darwin and sex education.

The Quebec Ministry of Education has told unlicensed Christian evangelical schools that they must teach Darwin’s theory of evolution and sex education or close their doors after a school board in the Outaouais region complained the provincial curriculum was not being followed.

One school offers this defense in response:

“We offer a curriculum based on a Christian world view rather than humanistic world view,” said Alan Buchanan, chairman of a committee that reorganized the school’s administration this past summer, as well as a former Quebec public school teacher.

Mr. Buchanan said Eglise Evangelique teaches evolution as well as intelligent design.

“We want the children to understand what they’re going to meet in the outside world, and also what’s wrong with the theory,” he said. “We also teach that a better theory — that God created the universe and so on.”

While the school doesn’t teach sex education, it does teach biology, he said.

“You have the Christian world view that says sex should only be in the marriage and a public school system that teaches kids about sexuality,” Mr. Buchanan said. “We believe students should be taught abstinence.”

He said the school met provincial guidelines during two reviews conducted in the 1990s, although they were asked to add a Canadian history course.

The state does have some interest in an educated populace, but wherever the state has power, it always reaches for more power. It is not just interested in having literate citizens, it is interested in controlling the thoughts of citizens, thus this insistence on evolution and sex education, clearly matters of philosophy and religion, not matters of literacy.

It appears that the schools in question have been open and reasonable. Compliance with a requirement to teach Canadian history is reasonable (would that the public schools actually taught Canadian history!) But this particular paragraph sounds extremely ominous:

Ministry spokeswoman Marie-France Boulay said yesterday the province will negotiate for several weeks with an unspecified number of evangelical schools to determine whether they can meet provincial standards that include the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution.

“We’re from the government, and we’re here to help you.” Chilling words. Education is one area where the state most quickly intrudes itself into the homes and church buildings of Christian people in North America. Quebec is one of the most secular governments in secular Canada, so I am not too optimistic about the outcome of these ‘negotiations’. Education is regulated at the province level in Canada, so these regulations do not have immediate effect on the rest of the country, but the philosophy of interference and usurping parental choice and parental authority is held by teacher’s unions and government bureaucrats across the country.

Each battle of this sort must of necessity be fought case by case. May the Lord grant some sympathetic elected representatives who believe in liberty and the will of the people in order to bring some restraint on the grasping theocrats. May God’s people be moved to pray! May the Christians of Canada turn from worldliness and plead for God’s grace! May the Lord Jesus come quickly!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3