Teach Your Children Well Revisited

Facilitating Radicalisation

Recommendation 25

25. Recommends that the Government of Canada work in collaboration with the provinces and territories to develop educational materials about different religious and cultural practices as a means to foster cross-cultural and inter-faith awareness and understanding.

Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia

Report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage

Of the 30 recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to address a largely apocryphal threat, recommendation 25 has to be the most insidious. Recommendation 25 opens the door to a nationwide Quebec-like program which reintroduced the teaching of religion in the secular public school system.

Almost a decade after the introduction of Quebec’s mandatory religious study course in the primary and secondary grades, alarms are being raised about its deleterious impact on students' intellectual development.

Many of the concerns expressed you will find in La face cachée du cours Éthique et culture religieuse (The Hidden Face of the Course Ethics and Religious Culture – my translation). The book brings together academics and others who have firsthand experience of the impact of indoctrinating teens and pre-teens under the guise of teaching tolerance of other religions and cultures.

François Doyon, a college professor of philosophy writes about the “deplorable effects” of a course in which “Ignorance is disguised as tolerance”, “we teach to believe without proof and act without thinking.” The professor goes on to explain that the children raised on the new curriculum think very differently than their predecessors, not caring to, when they get to college i.e. cegep debate what their faith or the faith of another deny.

Daniel Baril points to the “educational materials” as contributing factors: “twenty manuals or so which elevate religiousness at the expense of non-belief, atheism, humanisms, a life without religion which are not mentioned anywhere.” He worries about what this means for the future of a secular school system, and rightly so.

Sylvie Midavaine explains that such courses are “Trojan horses meant to facilitate the takeover of the secular by the religious” She makes another comparison which is similar to one I made when the program was first introduced, that the ultimate goal is selling religion to a captive audience.

Of the fifteen contributors to La face cachée du cours Éthique et culture religieuse André Gagné, a religious scholar at Concordia, makes what I consider a very pertinent comment about how such a program makes children more susceptible to radicalisation.

It is only by teaching children to question the validity of scriptures that we protect them from being influenced by fundamentalist doctrines. It is precisely the lack of critical thinking {when it comes to scriptures) which leads to radicalism.

Many of the observations quoted here will not be unfamiliar to those who have read my response to the Quebec government's initiative when it was first introduced, of which Children Under Siege is an excerpt.

February 4, 2017

Bernard Payeur