S. L. and D. J. v.Commission scolaires des Chenes and Attorney General of Quebec.
(The Drummondville Parents’ Case)
Should the government be able to dictate what is religious education? In the Province of Quebec, the government is doing just that. Parents have taken the Province of Quebec to court, resulting in this important case about religious freedom. Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) has been granted intervenor status by the Supreme Court of Canada to make arguments that the Canadian public benefits when religious freedom is allowed. This significant case will be argued in Ottawa on May 18, 2011.
In September, 2008, the Province of Quebec changed the religious education curriculum, requiring all students from first grade to the end of high school to take a course each year entitled, Ethics and Religious Culture. The course surveys all religions, treating Christianity on par with all other religions. No religion is permitted to be presented as more desirable than any other. The course is mandatory for all public and private schools. Even religiously based private schools are not permitted to teach a religion course contradicting Ethics and Religious Culture.
The Applicants are a married couple with four children. They live in Drummondville, Quebec. On behalf of their children, they applied for exemptions from participating in the Ethics and Religious Culture course. Their requests were denied. Several thousand parents living in the Province of Quebec also applied for exemptions from the Ethics and Religious Culture course on behalf of their children. All requests were denied. The Minister of Education has, apparently, indicated that all such requests will be denied. School boards have been supplied with a standard form rejection letter for this purpose.
The outcome of this case will potentially impact religious education throughout Canada. Right now even private, Christian schools in Quebec are prevented from teaching religion from a purely Christian perspective. This is an attack on religious freedom. By intervening at the Supreme Court of Canada, CCCC intends to argue for a reversal of the requirements imposed on every school by the Province of Quebec. Without the participation of CCCC and the other intervenors, the approach taken by the Province of Quebec could be applied by provincial and territorial governments across the country.
CCCC is asking members, Christian schools and all interested parties to contribute financially and pray that the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada make a decision preserving this religious freedom in Canada.
For more information contact:
Director of Legal Affairs
1 – 43 Howard Avenue
Elmira, ON N3B 2C9