Seven high school students in Granby, Quebec, have been handed one-day suspensions in the past week because of their decision to boycott the mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course on the grounds that it violates their freedom of conscience. They are likely to be expelled if they continue their actions. According to Barbara Kay in Wednesday's National Post,
The ERC curricula are mandated to introduce students to Quebec's rich diversity of religious tenets and "facilitate the spiritual development of students so as to promote self-fulfilment." Since when does the state "facilitate" spiritual self-fulfilment? To parents who take religion seriously, this is a chilling intrusion into what all democratically inspired charters of rights designate as a parental realm of authority.
ERC was adopted by virtual fiat, its mission to instill "normative pluralism" in students. "Normative pluralism" is gussied-up moral relativism, the ideology asserting there is no absolute right or wrong and that there are as many "truths" as there are whims. There were no public consultations.
The program is predicated on the worst possible educational model for young children: the philosopher Hegel's "pedagogy of conflict." As one of the founders of the ECR course, put it, students "must learn to shake up a too-solid identity" and experience "divergence and dissonance" through "le questionnement"....
Reading ERC manuals and activity books, one finds a superficial mishmash of trendy theoretical platitudes whose cumulative effect will be to convince children that belief is fungible, and that all religions -- including pagan animism and cults -- are equally "true." The curriculum is strewn with politically correct material that openly subverts Judeo-Christian values. In many of the manuals, ideology and religion are conflated. Social engineering is revealed as the heart of the ECR program; in the most recently published activity book, for example, Christianity is given 12 pages, feminism gets 27 pages....
Paganism and cults are offered equal status with Christianity. Witches "are women like any other in daily life;" "Technologically [the Raelians] are 25,000 years in advance of us." And considering that of the 80,000 ethnic aboriginals in Quebec only 700 self-identify with aboriginal spirituality (the vast majority of ethnic aboriginals are Christian), aboriginal spirituality (falsely equated with environmentalism) is accorded hugely disproportionate space and reverence.
In this ERC monoculture, only similarities between religions are permitted, to further the jolly illusion that all religions are merely variations on a single theme of brotherly love.
We, at The Voice of the Martyrs, applaud the actions of these students. We are encouraged to hear the words of 16-year-old evangelical student Jonathan Gagné to his mother, "Mom, I am still standing, and I'm going to keep standing and fight this to the end." We believe that the state has no right to mandate religious education, force students to learn the content of other religious and to deliberately seek to undermine the religious convictions of those who refuse to accept a relativistic view of truth. It is the right and responsibility of parents to train their own children according to their own religious beliefs, not those of the state. Religious courses, if offered, should be optional or alternatives provided. But the state must not mandate what religious content will or will not be taught to children, especially against the wishes of their parents.