Subject: Re: Religion in Schools
This article was forwarded to me by a friend.
I thought this would spark an interesting discussion on prayer in schools,
and related issues.
A Thundering Silence
Hans W. Zegerius
"The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a decision released on September 23, 1988, has
concluded, on the basis of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that
S.28(1) of Regulation 262 under the Education Act of Ontario is of no force or
effect. S.28(1) reads as follows:
A public school shall be opened or closed each school day with religious
exercises consisting of the reading of the scriptures or other suitable readings
and the repeating of the Lord's Prayer or other suitable prayers.
At the same time, the Court made note of the experiences and practices of the
Toronto Board of Education.
Since 1980 Toronto public schools have used a book of prayers and readings,
composed by an interdenominational committee, which are drawn from a number of
sources, including: Baha'ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism,
Islam, Jainism, Judaism, People of Native Ancestry, Secular Humanism, Sikhism,
The Ontario Education Minister said on October 14, 1988, according to news
reports, that the Ontario Government will not appeal the above court decision.
Instead, the ministry will draft new rules for opening exercises that reflect
the court ruling.
The news item further stated that several urban schools have already adopted
multicultural opening exercises.
It is almost beyond belief that in a number of public schools in Ontario the
pupils are being drawn into such a baffling religious mish-mash. It is even
more amazing that there has not been a thunderous reaction from Christian
churches and parents to it. Most distressing is that the composition of these
readings took place, and may still take place, with the co-operation of
Christian ministers and theologians. A close look at the sources for the
Toronto practices reveals that the concept of God as Judaism and all of
Christianity holds it, must become so blurred and contorted as to be
unrecognizable. For instance, Secular Humanism if not atheistic, is agnostic.
Confucianism presents only the vaguest notion of `Heaven' (t'ien); not that of
a divine Ruler or Lord but of a supreme moral-spiritual power. Buddhism does
not hold the idea of a god who would be even remotely akin to the Father of
the Lord Jesus Christ. Essentially it has no god at all.
Have the Christians, co-operating in this enterprise, not even had an inkling
of the startling fact, that the Protestant character of the public schools has
now been abandoned, and that is the Baha'i religion that has replaced the
The Baha'is teach that religious truth is not absolute but relative. God is
the Eternal Logos. But while the Logos is One, his manifestations are many.
They are "prophets." The manifestations of God through the prophets never
cease. Every prophet is the `seal' of the preceding ones. Hence the great
importance attached to Mohammad, who came after Jesus and whose work, therefore,
sealed (superseded?) that of Christ.
By the so-called multicultural opening exercises in our schools our children
are not just being acquainted with the gamut of belief in our present Canadian
society, they are being ushered into the mindset of Baha'ism. Instead of being
made conscious of the Christian faith among the other religious beliefs, they
are implicitly being taught that all religious truth is relative, including
that of Christianity. They are, in fact forced to attend exercises with
distinct Baha'i flavour.
As it stands now, the trend away from the Protestant character that once was
the hallmark of the public school system in Ontario cannot be reversed. However,
Christian witness is not therefore muted. It ought to be ringing loud and
clear. This is the time, when Christians ought to be determined that our Lord
Jesus Christ shall not be immersed in a religious smorgasbord; that his
teachings shall become part of an ethical cakemix on which the daily selection
from umpteen different religions is the icing-of-the-day.
The staggering ring lethargy of Christian leaders and churches ought to stop!
Deeply conscious of our unshakable faith that Jesus Christ is the Truth, the
Way, and the Life. and that no one comes to the Father but by him, we ought to
protest the inclusion of Christian sources, especially of the Bible, in the
opening exercises in the public school. Instead of being part of the
development of a Baha'i-style set of opening exercises, every Christian should
pull out of such futile and divisive undertaking....
It is time that we protest Jesus Christ made into a Baha'i prophet! There must
be no Christian content whatsoever in the material that adorns itself with the
epithet `multicultural,' but its very nature emasculates the Christ of God and
so discriminate against us who worship him. Perhaps it is our turn to appeal to
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Christian witness may take two forms: evangelistic witness and prophetic
witness. Evangelistic witness must be winsome and loving. Prophetic witness must
be clear and intrepid. The time for Prophetic witness in this matter is NOW in
Ontario, and who knows how soon in the rest of Canada. 
The Presbyterian Record January, 1989
Mr. Zegerius is a retired minister of The Presbyterian Church in Canada, living
in Guelph, Ontario
Mr. Z. has some nasty things to say about the Baha'is.
(the Baha'is have their own distinct founder and scripture,
and are actually not a mishmash of religions and isms,
as Mr. Z. seems to imply. They are, however, well known for their
belief that all (most?) religions come from the same Source.)
However, what I think he is actually protesting is the teaching that
other religions besides Christianity can be valid.
He seems to want Christianity taught as the only true religion,
and dislikes the idea of Christianity sharing the stage.
Questions I would enjoy discussing:
Should Christianity be given a preeminant position among the religions
in a public school?
If you do not give the preeminant position to Christianity,
how do you avoid teaching 'a mishmash of ideas'?
How would Mr. Z. react to having his children educated
in a school that gave Islam the preeminant postion?
I have already received one comment in private correspondance worth sharing:
Let us judge the policy by its effect -- does it promote
unity and acceptance of all peoples, or does it only glorify
a few and alienate the rest ?? ( Is alienation what God wants?)
The very fact that there are no overwhelming protests to the
multi-cultural/religious approach in schools here, I think, is
a reflection of not only tolerance and justice by the Canadian
people, but also perhaps the inspirational vision of achieving
at last a religious unity.
Every time I pass out an exam, I explain to the students
that no one can keep them from praying. :)