Jun 13th, 2017
CAMROSE, ALBERTA: The Battle River School Division (BRSD) based in Camrose has ordered Cornerstone Christian Academy (CCA) to refrain from reading or studying “any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals.”
The school board trustees meet this Thursday June 15 in Camrose (5402 48A Ave), starting at 9:00 a.m. In the afternoon, trustees will consider finalizing their decision to demand that this Christian school refrain from teaching Bible verses that trustees or others might consider “offensive”.
In correspondence with the school, School Board Chair Laurie Skori claims that human rights legislation prevents religious schools from teaching what a child, or a parent, might find “offensive.”
The written legal agreement between the school and school board serves to fulfil the Alberta government’s objective to support diversity and parent choice through alternative programs. Under Alberta law, these alternative programs include schools dedicated to various religious teachings (including Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism and Islam), sports, differing educational philosophies, etc. In the agreement, BRSD promised: “The Board will not attempt to change the essential nature of the CCA program, as set out in the agreed upon School Vision and Purpose as outlined in Schedule A.” The School Vision and Purpose document clearly commits Cornerstone to be a Christian School, based on teaching from the Bible.
Parents in Camrose, Tofield and other towns have chosen Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman, Alberta, because they agree with the school’s commitment to integrate knowledge of the Bible and its relevance into the approved Alberta curriculum.
The Justice Centre wrote to the BRSD on June 8, 2017, explaining why the BRSD’s decision is a violation of their own principles and agreements with the Society. The full letter can be found here.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Canada is a signatory, requires the government (including school boards) to respect the liberty of parents “to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.”
In a similar vein, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. The first human right that is listed and protected in the Charter is freedom of conscience and religion.
“Ms. Skori and other trustees enjoy the legal right to send their own kids to various schools that align with the parents’ beliefs and convictions. But these trustees have no right to impose their own ideology on schools they disagree with,” stated lawyer John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
“The government’s duty of neutrality, required by the Supreme Court of Canada, means that a school board cannot dictate whether verses in the Torah, Koran, New Testament or Guru Granth Sahib are acceptable,” continued Carpay.