I was going to post this on Canadian Atheist, but I was beaten to the punch by one of my co-authors. It lives here instead.
Canada’s biggest secular battlefield is over the publicly-funded Catholic school districts in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, but a number of provinces also fund private religious schools to varying amounts.
In Winnipeg, Manitoba, a private Catholic school receives 50% of the funding compared to a neighbouring public school. The school can then inject as much religious education as they want (typically so long as they meet the basic curriculum requirements).
It’s little wonder then why Christ the King School (yes, it’s that unapologetic) is brewing up controversy, given its latest stunt:
Children at a private Catholic school in Winnipeg who attend anti-abortion vigils outside the city’s Health Sciences Centre are receiving community service credits for their participation.
Principal Dave Hood of Christ the King School said Tuesday that joining the vigils is a voluntary and family decision. But he’s considering it as an official school activity as early as next year.
And before you ask, this isn’t a high school, or even middle/junior high. It’s an elementary school for 200 students from K-8.
The principal emphasizes that “We’re not there to block anyone,” but did advise parents of the daily anti-abortion vigils outside the hospital.
At least the paper adds a voice of reason to the debate:
Lori Johnson, executive director of the Klinic Community Health Centre and the Sexuality Education Research Centre, calls the vigils a political lobby and argued any school receiving public funding should not be allowed to involve children.
"It would certainly not be allowed in the public sector," said Johnson, a registered nurse and former longtime school trustee with the Winnipeg School Division board. "That is ill-considered by any school, public or private. It should be at the cost of losing their public funding."
So congrats Manitobans, a part of your tax dollars are going to promote a religious agenda through young children.
Of course this is also in the province that recently returned the NDP to a fourth majority government. It is also the province that has had some issues with the Lord’s Prayer being pushed on students in public schools.
While I am glad that Manitobans didn’t opt for the regressive Conservatives, democracy doesn’t end with election day.
Secular progressives (I think I need to write a book detailing this position) in Manitoba need to get involved in the provincial NDP and push for the end of this two-tier education system. I’ll discuss this further in a coming post though.