By Jonathon Van Maren
Alberta’s NDP government has made the next move against religious schools in the province—and this time, they’ve dropped any pretence that their ongoing attacks on religious schools are anything short of crass bigotry. At the end of August, Education Minister David Eggen announced that funding would be pulled from Christian schools that refused to accept Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs. Now, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has released details of the changes that the government is demanding from Christian schools:
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms today released correspondence sent to independent schools by Curtis Clark, Alberta’s Deputy Minister of Education, threatening schools with defunding if they do not remove the following content from their “Safe and Caring” school policies:
- “We believe men and women were created in the image of God, after His likeness, and therefore have transcendent, intrinsic worth.” (allegedly violates School Act because this is “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful”)
- As part of the school’s Personal and Social Value Commitments: “To develop godly attitudes toward marriage and the family along with the understanding and skills needed to establish a God-honouring home.” (allegedly violates School Act for being “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful”)
- “…parents have been given the responsibility to raise their children, and are the primary educators of their children. Therefore, the school will involve parents as appropriate and necessary regarding their children’s participation in school student groups in accordance with the usual practices of notification.” (allegedly violates the School Act)
- “the unchangeable and infallible truth of the Word of God” (allegedly violates School Act requirement that “diversity” must be “respected”)
- “Upon receipt of a request for a club or activity, the principal shall determine whether the requested club or activities would create a safe, caring, welcoming and respectful environment and is consistent with the vision and mission of the school.” (allegedly violates School Act for being “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful”)
- “God created mankind as male and female, equal in dignity and worth, yet with distinct and complementary roles” (allegedly contrary to School Act requirement for “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment”)
- “Proposals for student clubs and activities will be evaluated according to their promotion of the values, principles, mission and vision of the school” (allegedly contrary to the School Act)
- “God’s institution of marriage, a covenant relationship between one man and one woman, is the sole environment within which sexual activity is permitted, and is the context in which children are to be raised.” (allegedly violates School Act requirement for “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment”)
- “Obedience to God’s law supersedes subjection to human authority” (allegedly contrary to the School Act)
- “… the above doctrines will be taught as truth in our school.” (allegedly violates School Act by disrespecting “diversity”)
- “All school groups, clubs and activities must teach, demonstrate and embrace the biblical perspective that is the foundation for all school activities” (allegedly violates the School Act)
- “Names of student groups will be in harmony with the teachings of Scripture and the values and faith perspective of the school community” (allegedly violates the School Act)
- “The school’s teachers and staff need not teach ethics or religious doctrines that are contrary to the school community’s faith/value commitments in a way that portrays them as equally credible or worthy of belief.” (allegedly violates School Act requirement to respect “diversity”)
- “As appropriate, if a parent or student believes the faith and/or value commitment of the School and the parent’s or student’s faith and/or values are incompatible, and continuing to enroll the student in the School is not in the best interest of the student, then the School shall assist the parent or student to enroll in another school for the subsequent school year.” (allegedly contrary to the School Act as unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful)
- As a requirement on a form for setting up a student organization: “Please explain how the formation of this club will help the school better achieve its mission and vision.” (allegedly violates School Act for being unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful)
Alberta Education states that failure to remove the above content from a school’s “Safe and Caring” policies “may result in funding implications … and the suspension or cancellation of accreditation.”
Schools in receipt of these demands and threats from Alberta Education, along with all schools in Alberta, had submitted their policies to David Eggen in March of 2016. Since March of 2016, in the past 2½ years, schools have not received a response from David Eggen as to whether he considered their policies to follow the School Act.
It was not until the week of September 4, 2018, that some schools finally received specific feedback about their policies from the Alberta Government, well after the start of the 2018-19 school year.
“By demanding that independent schools remove religious content from their safe-and-caring policies, David Eggen is attacking the welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that these schools have in place,” stated lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre.
The Justice Centre represents parents and dozens of schools in a constitutional challenge to the Bill 24 secrecy provisions, which require withholding information from parents about their own children as young as five years old.
The NDP attacks on schools began as a radical progressive government forcing LGBT ideology into communities that did not want it, and have now metastasized into a blunt declaration by the government that schools cannot govern themselves according to their Christian beliefs. “Diversity” must be respected, by which the NDP means that a diverse array of religious schools must accept progressive ideology and accede to their demands or face further attacks from the government. This is no longer simply about Gay Straight Alliance clubs—the NDP is telling Christian schools that they cannot teach Christian doctrine, cannot state their belief that the Bible is God’s Word, cannot respect the primary role of parents in the education process, and cannot state that the biblical worldview is true.
And, most tellingly, the NDP had a problem with one school noting that God’s authority superseded man’s authority—because they do not believe that to be true. They believe that they are the final authority on everything, which is why they demanded that a Christian school remove acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty from their mission statement. The battle lines have been openly drawn now: Alberta’s NDP government wants to drive any acknowledgement of Christianity as true from the province’s education system. On this, they will not succeed.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.