Two days ago I wrote that Québec, Canada’s province pas comme les autres, has always had an established religion. At one time it was Roman Catholicism; now it’s official secularism. Justice Gérard Dugré had the courage to label truthfully the provincial government’s current educational policy, for which he has been roundly criticized by no less than Premier Jean Charest. Canada is fortunate to have Fr. Raymond de Souza to size up such matters truthfully: Standing up to Quebec’s totalitarian impulses.
Loyola is a private Catholic high school in Montreal which has existed for twice as long as Quebec’s Ministry of Education. When the Ministry unveiled the ERC [ethics and religious culture] course as its replacement for religious education in Quebec, Loyola asked if it could teach the course from a Catholic perspective. As Barbara Kay pointed out here yesterday, ERC is a parody of relativism in the name of neutrality. Wiccan, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic — no one view was to be taught as superior to another, let alone as true. Loyola simply wanted to teach respect and tolerance in a manner consistent with a Catholic school, holding that, well, the Catholic faith is true. The Ministry refused, essentially ordering a Catholic school to teach its students things that it believed to be false.
It was a gross violation of religious liberty and parental rights in education, not to mention lacking completely in pedagogical common sense. What happens to the credibility of teachers when they are forced to teach their students that their Catholic faith — presumably why they choose in teach in a Catholic school in the first place — is no more valid a path to salvation than witchcraft or atheism?
The “neutrality” demanded by the state was recognized by the judge for what it was — a secularism which gives its own answer to religious questions, namely that all religious truths are relative and none are true. Forcing this upon children against the wishes of their parents and teachers is a dictatorial act — what in fact Benedict XVI famously called the “dictatorship of relativism”. . . .
Quebec’s position is that no one, no school, no parent, no child, anywhere for any reason, can be exempt from the government’s course — even if, or especially if, it violates their religious faith. In the name of tolerance for all faiths, all faith must be taught to be false from a secular point of view. The zealous mandating of ERC is Orwellian in its language, dictatorial in its methods, intolerant in its attitude and without limits in its application. There is a word for this, and Dugré was not shy about using it: totalitarian.