Boreal

Teach Your Children Well

Foreword

Children Under Siege

Most, if not all religions would like nothing better than to transform classrooms into centers of religious indoctrination instead of education.

Provincial governments across Canada appear more and more willing to support these faith-based initiatives that seek to eliminate a child’s last refuge from the incessant bombardment of the word of God: the public school system.

The Canadian public school system, in the main, teaches children and young people to think for themselves. The private faith-based system teaches children and young people to think according to that particular faith's interpretation of God’s instruction for mankind contained in texts of questionable authenticity.

Can democracy, the advancement of science, civilization itself survive too many generations raised to blindly follow instructions from humanity's alleged invisible, all powerful capricious friend.

If children are not exposed to and learn to appreciate the values inherent in a secular, democratic society free from religion’s more nefarious influence, what hope is there that our democratic, pluralistic form of government will survive the generations raised on a steady diet of God’s Words.

What hope is there for what Mark Lilla, professor of the humanities at Columbia University in The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West (2007) calls “the fragile exception”:

"After centuries of strife, the West has learned to separate religion and politics – to establish the legitimacy of its leaders without referring to divine command. There is little reason to expect the rest of the world – the Islamic world in particular – will follow."

"We in the West find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still inflame the minds of men, stirring up messianic passions that can leave societies in ruin. We had assumed that this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that political theology died in 16th-century Europe. We were wrong. It's we who are the fragile exception."

Will The Renaissance, which marked the end of the Catholic Church’s dominance in Europe allowing for a flowering of the arts and sciences, and The Enlightenment which ushered in The Age of Reason turn out to have been a short detour, in the march of history, taken by a relatively small segment of humanity?

It cost countless lives over hundreds of years to wrestle the freedoms and liberty we now enjoy from tyrants of both the secular and religious kind. Will these hard-won rights to make our own informed, reasoned choices now be carelessly cast aside within a few generations because of short-sighted politicians who would trade this hard won independence from the tyranny of the few, for a few votes?

Organized religion is not unlike a modern corporation that wants to successfully market a product. Just like modern business leaders, from the hamburger to the sugared water peddlers, religious leaders know that the best time to get the consumer to buy into their message, their product, is to get them hooked on their brand while that consumer is still a child or an adolescent and is in an environment that will make them more receptive, indeed captive, to their advertising.

The American and the French Revolutions brought some measure of protection for children from adults wishing to bring their conflicting religious ideologies into the classroom, by banning most religious instruction in public schools.

After more than a hundred years of relative calm in western classrooms, with the focus being on learning and the development of critical thought (religion’s nemesis), religion wants back in.

Since in most Western public schools teaching of religion is still not allowed, religion is looking for other ways to get back in, and one of these ways is having children, not unlike running shoe manufacturer Nike, wear the crest, the hat, or other symbol identifying the brand of the faith such as a dagger e.g. Kirpan.

France passed a law, in the face of mainly Muslim opposition, forbidding “conspicuous” religious symbols including Islamic scarves, Jewish skull caps, Sikh turbans and large Christian crosses in public classrooms.

We should do the same, and more, including stopping religion's assault on the public school system, on a secular education, Islam being the most worrisome, or we risk making the "fragile exception" history.

Québec is the first province to severely compromise its public education system in order to accommodate the demands of a religion which is anathema to the "fragile exception." This short book is about that dangerous experiment with our children's future, our future, and how we have come to this point in our history where a religion is again dictating public policy where educating children and young people is concerned.