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Church and State need separation

Posted on May 6, 2015 by Taber Times

The beautiful thing about living in a modern, forward-thinking country like Canada is that you have the freedom to make a lot of choices. You have the choice to vote for who you want to.

You have the choice to vote for who you want to. You have the choice to live where you want to, work where you want to, love and marry who you want to.

You also have the freedom to practice whatever religion you want. In fact, it’s a right. A right guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You also have the freedom from being persecuted for choosing a specific religion. Let’s not forget that you have the right to not be subjected to indoctrination by a government agency or representative of the state. In other words, it’s reasonable (and legally enforced) that you should expect that a representative of the state does not enforce you to adhere to the practices and rituals of a specific religion.

Let’s also not forget that teachers and school board employees are paid by the state, ie; the government. When parents send their children to school, it is with the expectation that their children will be taught facts and lessons that will prepare them for adult life in the society that we have created.

And the expectation is that those children will be able to learn in a safe environment, free from persecution. Bringing the Lord’s Prayer back into the school, as has happened in Taber, to be read by teachers (representatives of the state) goes against the very fabric that our society has been built upon. We need to have separation of church and state in order to live in a properly functioning democracy. It’s an absolute must.

No one is trying to stop Christians from practising their faith, as many have claimed. We’re simply asking that our children can go to a place of learning where they are free from representatives of the state teaching them about one specific religion. Christians can still be Christian, Muslims can still be Muslim and Agnostics can still be Agnostics at school.

No one (at least not anyone with intelligence), wants to stop people from practising their religion. It just cannot be taught by the school. We have to create and maintain a society where everyone is free to practice whatever religion they want.

“How harmful can a little prayer be?” I’ve heard some ask. On the surface, a little prayer at the start of the day is not a big deal. I do it myself.

But when it comes from and is enforced by the state, it’s a slippery slope that we must avoid at all costs.

JAMES BIGELOW
LETHBRIDGE

2 Responses to “Church and State need separation”

  1. luke.fevin says:

    James, Thank You for your well considered and reasonable response on this subject. Religion can be a divisive issue (the fact that it can be very divisive is one of the very reasons it is important to keep the State out of it.)

    I think that part of the problem is that some people fail to see the harm in it, without appreciating that whether *they* see harm in it is irrelevant.

    Freedom OF and Freedom FROM are equally important, and the Supreme Court made its clearest statement on this issue very recently – the state can have zero involvement in the issue of religion.

    And further, the excuse that despite being demonstrated by multiple court cases that segregating for prayer in this manner denies the non-prayers their Charter Rights, that somehow there is a legal exemption to do so (although why would you choose to do something that denied your friends & neighbors their Charter Rights?) is untrue.

    Chapter 29, Section 137 does NOT legally compel a board to perform the prayer. As such, by doing so the Horizon board is voluntarily choosing to perform an action that it KNOWS denies some of it’s children and families their Charter Rights.

    This is a disgusting choice, steeped in the privilege of religion. That somehow a majority demand a privilege, and they do say by taking a vote on denying the Rights to a minority.

    Time will tell which was the Right and Wrong side of this issue. I suggest that the Horizon school board is going to be tested on the legality and morality of this case very soon.

    And then we will discover the irony, that choices made on the back of religious beliefs were actually the selfish and morally wrong ones.

  2. glendaaus says:

    James thankyou for your article. It was very refreshing to read a response that showed a good understanding of the subject.

    Luke Fevin has stated the logical explanation for this case in a diverse society and how the Lords Prayer can be used to segregate a child.

    In my role as advocate for Dr Hamman Children’s Equality Group, I have spoken with families who have never discussed religion with their children, and may be in some cases, equivalent to the residential school issue, where children were forced into religions that were not their own, the Horizon School Board should consider this in their eagerness of force this on non-believers or those of other faiths.

    As you stated, no one wants to stop anyone practicing their faith, but in a Public School or forum, the minority need to be considered.

    If anyone is interested in our current local action, please email me at glendatf@gmail.com or join our facebook page Dr Hamman Children’s Equality Group.

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