An article in LifeSiteNews.com, “Ontario Catholic School board to fight lawsuit seeking to exempt student from religious activities,” is selective in its information about the legal rights for parents who want their children exempted from mandatory Catholic high school religion courses. The article refers to section 42.11(b) of the Ontario Education Act,
On written application, a Roman Catholic board shall exempt a person who is qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a secondary school operated by a public board from programs and courses of study in religious education if,
(b) it is impractical by reason of distance or terrain or by reason of physical handicap, mental handicap or multi-handicap for the person to attend a secondary school operated by a public board. 1997, c. 31, s. 20.
instead of 42.13:
In addition to the exemptions provided for in subsection (11), no person who is qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a secondary school operated by a public board who attends a secondary school operated by a Roman Catholic board shall be required to take part in any program or course of study in religious education on written application to the Board
While the article does include a statement from a spokesperson from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, it also includes a statement from Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics:
“The province’s Open Access policy does not require Catholic schools to simply allow students to opt-out of religious studies. The legislation actually makes it extremely difficult, almost impossible, for most students (or parents) to obtain such an exemption.”
“According to media reports describing the father’s alleged reasons for seeking the exemption, he clearly does not qualify for the narrow conditions where an exemption can be provided, as described under Section 42(11) of the Education Act.”
How or why a spokesperson from Campaign Life Catholics is qualified to speak on an education matter is never explained. Fonseca goes on to say,
Catholic schools in Ontario have a “constitutional right, upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, to operate authentically Catholic schools, without limitation.”
Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada, calls it
“troubling” that exemptions from religious studies in Catholic schools exist at all in the Education Act.
However, she does admit that the exemptions are allowed, but she goes on to say
the Catholic school system accommodated itself a “great deal” in 1985 — with the passage of Bill 30 — to the demands of the government so that the previously unfunded senior grades would receive full funding. She said that the Catholic system “watered down” its former confessional nature so as to “accommodate the funding” by including provisions for non-Catholic teachers and by allowing exemptions from religion class under certain circumstances.
Wow, the Catholic school system “accommodated” itself? No, the Catholic school system took the taxpayers’ money and continued to make life difficult for the government, education ministers, and students by refusing to obey the education act.
Landolt shows her ignorance of the law when she says
“The parent is not a Catholic, the child has not been raised a Catholic, so what is the child doing there anyway? If you don’t want a Catholic education, go to a public school.”
Oliver Erazo sends his children to Notre Dame Catholic School because it is the closest school to their home and because it was given a top ranking on a school-ranking website. Good for Erazo, he knows that a solid secondary academic education is important. I hope he and his children are allowed to avoid the nefarious and damaging Catholic indoctrination: the “faith aspect of a Catholic school . . . that infuses gospel values throughout the curriculum and life of the school.”