Subject: Re: Religion in Schools This article was forwarded to me by a friend. I thought t

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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 by 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, and Zoroasterianism. 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 Protestant Faith? 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. DISCLAIMER: Every time I pass out an exam, I explain to the students that no one can keep them from praying. :)

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