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Mandatory class says all religions are true

MONTREAL, Quebec –Students in Quebec, Canada are being required to take a new Ethics and Religious Culture class that teaches that “all religions — including pagan animism and cults — are equally ‘true.'”

“It is not a religion instruction course. It is religious culture,” Stephanie Tremblay, a spokeswoman for Quebec’s education department, told Canada’s National Post newspaper. “We introduce young people to religious culture like we introduce them to musical culture. The goal is to better know and understand others.”

But school boards across Quebec reported in December that they had received and rejected more than 1,400 requests from public school parents seeking to have their children exempted from taking the course, which requires about two hours per week and also is mandatory in private schools.

Not only did students at one Quebec high school have their exemption requests turned down, but they were suspended and threatened with expulsion for not attending the class they said violates their freedom of conscience. At least one set of parents is challenging the class in court, the newspaper said.

“All the parents are doing is claiming a right that is recognized, the right to educate one’s child in conformity with one’s religious or philosophical convictions,” Jean-Yves Cote, a lawyer representing the family, said.

Paul Donovan, the principal at Loyola High School in Montreal, told the National Post his school has initiated a court challenge against the class, which he said does not ask students to distinguish between right and wrong.

“What it essentially says is that religion is just, ‘You like tomato soup and I like pea soup, so don’t be all offended because someone likes tomato soup. It’s really just a matter of preference,'” he said. “Religion could be Wiccan or Raelian or any of the new movements or atheism or agnosticism.”

A Voice of the Martyrs blog post commended the students for their opposition to state religious teaching.

“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,” VOM said.

“It is the right and responsibility of parents to train their own children according to their own religious beliefs, not those of the state,” the persecution watchdog group said. “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.”
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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