Letters Oct. 4 - NDP violating fundamental freedoms of religious schools

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NDP violating our fundamental freedoms

Dear Editor,

Maybe most of you are unaware or maybe you don’t care, but this needs to be spoken about.
Bill 24 – this bill has been the topic of many discussions. The point of this letter is not to get into the ins and outs of the bill, even though there are many things that could be said about it.

What needs to be addressed is Mr. Eggen’s enforcement of it. Meant to be a solution to bullying within schools, it has now come to a stand-off between the NDP’s intolerance of religion and schools that cannot give up their religious beliefs.

Mr. Eggen, while claiming to promote tolerance, is now acting as an intolerant bully himself. Faith-based schools have tried very hard to create an environment that is safe and caring for all students and research has proven that parent-run schools actually outperform public schools in this aspect. Faith-based schools have also tried very hard to work with Mr. Eggen to create policies that work for both parties, but to no avail.

Mr. Eggen has slammed the door in the face of these schools. Apparently he has a higher authority than God, so much so that he has said that if faith-based schools do not remove references in their policies to the Bible or to the God they believe in, they will lose funding and/or accreditation.

The NDP attacks the fundamental freedoms which are stated in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms – freedom of religion, thought, belief, expression, to name a few. The tolerance Mr. Eggen claims to promote he does not put into practice himself.

We are all equal before the law, we have equal protection and equal benefit without discrimination – also from the Charter. Since when is the NDP above the law? Since when is Canada, a democratic country, a place where one cannot practice their religion freely?

For those who believe religion has no place in education, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” Maybe Mr. Eggen, the Education Minister, needs to review this document. It also states that ”Education shall be directed to….the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.” Let that sink in for a minute.

Maybe this quote resonates more with Mr. Eggen and the NDP’s line of thinking: “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode their rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which those changes can be reversed.” That is from Hitler, by the way.

-Grace Hovius,
Lacombe, Alta.

 

Have we learned nothing from the residential school disaster?

Dear Editor,

In recent years, Canada has acknowledged the damaging effects and long-term consequences of Residential Schools on First Nations, yet here we go again.

Let’s examine the parallels:

  1. The government thought First Nations peoples weren’t capable of raising their children properly, so they took them away. The government today is doing the same thing. Under the banner of “Safe and Caring Schools,” they are separating families, encouraging division and secrecy. They are implying the government knows what is best for our children and can raise them better than their parents.  Don’t take away parental control and influence. The home is still the best place for children to be raised.
  2. The government didn’t value the culture and beliefs of First Nations. They thought their morals and ideas were more advanced and civilized.  Likewise, the government doesn’t value Christian culture and beliefs. They are suggesting Christian beliefs are outdated, intolerant, or irrelevant in today’s society. Educational funding will not be received unless schools follow government agenda and incorporate government policies in their vision statements. How does this lack of value for what Christians believe foster “Healthy and Respectful relationships?”

It isn’t Christianity that promotes intolerance or hatred. True followers of Christ promote love for all while still upholding Biblical values and morality. Intolerance and hatred are characteristics found in individual people. Don’t assign those qualities to religious or ethnic groups. If you do, then you are being intolerant, bigoted and close-minded.

Schools already have policies for stepping in to help children they suspect are at risk physically or emotionally. Let’s use those policies and services. We don’t need to take responsibility away from the parents. Instead, we should expect parents to take more responsibility for raising their children. We should be offering support and skills to families who struggle. Let’s give them the skills to care appropriately and to openly communicate. We don’t have to regulate this through the educational system. This should be the function of community support groups and civil law.

Let all the taxpayers have access to educational funds through the accredited education of their choice. If the Alberta government doesn’t want to fund certain schools based on their culture or belief system, then the government shouldn’t collect school taxes from those people.  It is not ethical to enforce the School Act stating all children 6-16 years of age must attend school without letting parents have a say in the values with which their children are indoctrinated during those important formative years. The idea of mandating the values for all children through education is akin to dictatorship and tyranny.

Consider the generations of hurting First Nations. Consider the pain that has been caused by government involvement in family dynamics. It has lasted for years, and the damage is ongoing. Have the foresight to see the changes being promoted today in our schools will have the same type of far-reaching, long-lasting implications. There must be other ways to promote “safe and caring” communities instead of using school policies which, although proposing to eliminate discrimination and encourage diversity, actually discriminate against other particular groups.

– Sheila McIlwain,
Lacombe, Alta.

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