There was a story in the Toronto Star yesterday that parents in Quebec have revolted over a new course that has been unveiled in the public school system, comparative religions. The course is intended to broaden the students's minds and knowledge concerning the world's religions. It is a course for which parents can require exemptions for their children. In one school, out of 800 students, 700 were exempted.
"How can they teach them about other religions when they don't even know their own", is a common theme. "Religion is not a menu in a fast food restaurant", was another. "Give them a good grounding (meaning indocrination) in their own faith first, before introducing them to other ideas." "If they are offered too much choice, they might become (horror of horrors) atheists."
Education is all about broadening students' intellectual horizons and inspiring them to seek out new knowledge. Religion is concerned with closing minds to other ideas, but from historical and cultural aspects it is important that students learn how other religions stultify enquiry and discourage open learning just as much as the one their parents chose for them. The Quebec government should be congratulated for its pioneering effort and let us hope it is adopted as a standard in other educational jurisdictions across the country.