Alberta Catholics and homeschoolers may have to teach kids being gay is not a sin

A new bill before the Alberta legislature could require home schoolers and faith-based schools to teach that being gay isn’t a sin and that diverse lifestyles are not a bad thing. The Alberta’s proposed Education Act states that “all courses or programs of study offered and instructional materials used in a school must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act.”

An article from the Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) of Canada calls the bill “attempt by a government to control what families teach in the area of values and beliefs in their own home”. The underlying message is that Big Brother is watching… and He won’t tolerate you teaching your kids that homosexuality is a sin. The HSLDA urges home schooling parents to contact the Minister of Education to ask that the law be amended.

As someone who has taught diversity programs and believes in the inherent worth of all persons, regardless of their orientation, I admit that I was surprised to read about the resistance to the new bill. I confess a certain naiveté around such matters. It never really occurred to me that parents may want to home school children so that they could teach them that being gay was a sin, but I suppose that could happen.

What do you think? Should faith-based schools and homeschoolers be able to teach the values that they believe in, even if they don’t reflect what the government requires?

References

2012 Bill 2, Alberta Legislative Assembly

Alberta bill may make it illegal to teach that homosexual acts are sinful“, Catholic World News

Homeschooling families can’t teach homosexual acts sinful in class says Alberta gvmt“, by Patrick Craine, Lifesite News

“Canadian Province Imposing “Diversity Training” on Homeschools”, Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) of Canada

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17 Responses to Alberta Catholics and homeschoolers may have to teach kids being gay is not a sin

  1. Morton Stevenson says:

    This is more not a problem is it a sin or not sin. The parents freedom and religouis freedom to raise there child any way they wish. This is indoctrination of the youth. Quoting Hilter. Those who have the youth has the future. As a Christian I can not teach my children this. Nor can I condone these at any level. This is what Gods word says. Or I will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I would be better off dead then do this. This is from a true Christian propective.

    Now that being said. We are to love the person not the sin. We all should be given the chance to change our ways. We are to speak with love and understanding at the same time. We all have sin but we can’t make it a lifestyle. God understands a involuntary transgression if we ask for forgiveness and change.

    The big thing to point out is there never was a problem about people praciting homosexuality. True Christians feel every one has God given freedom to listen to God or not. As I read once eternity smoking or nonsmoking your choice.

    Were this truty comes from is the Closet Communist. Who has come up with away to destroy the west and bring Marxest government to power. Destroy the famity unit and the west will fall. Note this congressional record. In 1992 they decided to really push this hard to cause the west to destry itself.

    Divide and conquer. This should scare alot.

  2. Kris says:

    Hi, John.

    Thanks for your reply. Since I’m unable to “reply” to you (there must be limit on the number of replies that can be made), I’ll post here.

    Thank you for explaining your use of the word “stupid” – that was very helpful. I guess I would suggest the word “mistaken” might be a better choice. Otherwise, you call them stupid for holding their beliefs, and they in turn could call you by a similar name for holding your beliefs, and feelings are hurt and things go nowhere. On the other hand, if one contends that another person is “mistaken” about an issue, there is less emotion attached to that word and then perhaps some dialogue can actually take place and an understanding reached – even if it is ultimately one where both parties must agree to disagree.

    There must be some common agreements among the Christian denominations for them to all identify as Christian, no? And even if they disagree on what rules to apply, so what? Are they free to hold their own religious beliefs or are they not? Must they all agree on what rules to apply in order to be “valid”? Certainly Christians and Jews and Muslims and various other faiths do not necessarily agree on a great deal; does this lack of agreement mean they should not be permitted to express an opinion that differs from that of the current government’s opinion? Such an idea would seem to me to run counter to the very concepts of freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

    I’m very glad to hear you say that you don’t think children should be removed from their homes, but if they are not, how do you ensure that no “discriminatory teaching” occurs? Who will enforce this? How?

    If people are not permitted to express their beliefs – whether religious or otherwise – I would argue that that is tantamount to government thought-control. If a parent has to be thinking, “Hmmm. Is this what the government wants me to teach little Johnny, or does it run counter to its official position?” or “I really believe this and would like to teach little Johnny the same, but I can’t because if I do, I will get in trouble with the government”…how is that not thought-control? True, there is no physical thought control happening (and I don’t believe such technology exists yet), but the government is certainly affecting how, when, where and why people express themselves.

    This is self-refuting because the government becomes guilty of the exact action it is attempting to eradicate. “You are not permitted to discriminate, and so we are going to discriminate against you to make sure that you don’t discriminate.”

    With regard to your final point:

    The actions of animals in the wild probably isn’t terribly relevant to this particular conversation, since animals do not (as far as we know) have any type of religious belief system(s), and are also known to kill and eat each other as a matter of course in order to survive.

    So could we have the government teaching one thing as the “correct” view while permitting the people to teach the “wrong” view? Only if we want to completely obliterate the concepts of freedom of religion and freedom of expression, I think. For instance:

    Religions: “Homosexuality is wrong. Abortion is wrong, Premartial sex is wrong. Drinking alcohol is wrong. Birth control is wrong. etc etc etc.”

    Government: “Homosexulity is good. Abortion is fine. Premartial sex is okay. Drinking alcohol is fine. Birth control is good. etc, etc. etc.”

    The idea that we can have the government “permitting” the people to teach their beliefs while undermining those beliefs wherever and whenever it can is troubling, to say the least. Should the government have that kind of power in a democratic nation? Without freedom of expression and religion, democracy will no longer exist. There will be no further exchange of ideas if the government holds the ultimate opinion and actively seeks to undermine those who disagree with it.

    (As an aside: We hear so much about tolerance these days, but it seems to me that we are becoming an increasinly intolerant society. We don’t want to even hear the opinions of those who disagree with us, much less permit people to live their lives as they see fit. Some people who abhor the idea of religious people “cramming their morality” down the throats of others seem to be quite willing to cram their own morality down the throats of religious people. How is either action good or honorable, no matter who is doing the cramming?

    And I do not have to “tolerate” actions and ideas with which I agree. True tolerance occurs when I “put up with” actions and ideas with which I disagree, does it not?)

    In such a situation, at best we have the government back in the patronizing, condescending role it took with the children of our First Nations: “Listen, children. We know that your parents want you to speak their language and believe in their god, but we know better than they what is good for both you and for society as a whole. So we make sure that what is best is what happens.” Worked real well that time.

    At worst, we have tyranny.

    • John Vezina says:

      Kris, we are probably driving Sarah crazy so if you want to continue this discussion you can email me directly at jvezina@tbwifi.ca

      I like your word “mistaken” and I will use it. If I had had more than ten minutes to compose my original message I likely would have found it. :o)

      Taken to extremes, I can see how you might think that my statement was self-refuting. But I do not want to take it to extremes I just want to ensure that although religions may be allowed to teach that being gay is a sin, the children should also be taught that modern scientific thought disagrees with this doctrine and they should also be warned that judging gays to be sinners may lead to bullying them. And let’s face it, almost every person I have ever spoken to who believes being gay is a sin also believes that it is an especially bad sin, deserving of …I won’t say what the consequence of sinning is as this is one thing almost all the denominations agree on. When one is taught that being gay is a sin, how would the children relate to gay people? If the child is gay, he will be very much hurt and if not he will shun those who are, leading to all sorts of problems. Not everyone is gay, but everyone lies. Lying also is a sin yet the government does not legislate against teaching that lying is a sin. Why? Could it be because everyone lies and so no one is discriminated against? I do not know, but it is something to consider.

      The Government certainly can abuse its power, however that is a problem in monitoring and applying the law properly. I have no clear idea on how to implement a system to monitor schooling other than to give both viewpoints in a religious context. I specify religious context because not all ideas are appropriate to teach in other contexts.

  3. The state now has an official doctrine on sin. Wow.

    So, what will Alberta do to parents who teach their religious beliefs about sin instead of the state’s teaching on sin? Will the state remove the children? Send the parents to jail?

    This is totalitarian. There will be civil disobedience.

  4. John Vezina says:

    Honestly, I think it is a crying shame that we would even have to consider forcing anyone to teach what is correct. If a group of people with a belief in a mythological barbaric and immoral viewpoint wants to brainwash their children so that they become a threat to equality when they grow up then they should be prevented from doing so.

    I am all for freedom of expression and individual humans rights but the fact is that we are a society and we need to cooperate with each other in order to survive. Upholding the right to various belief systems and to freedom of expression stops when that freedom is abused by threatening the rights of other people to live without discrimination.

    It really is not all that difficult to find a balance between religious beliefs and the rights of those who do not share those beliefs. You can believe in a mythological God who performs miracles so that you need not take responsibility for your own actions, I don’t care. But I do care when you claim and support the fact that this so-called God tells me I should kill gays.

    Unfortunately if we must legislate against stupidity, then we must legislate against stupidity.

    • You make a good point, John. I don’t profess to have the Human Rights Code memorized, but my experience tells me that the root of all this lies in human rights, freedom of expression and equality for all.

    • Kris says:

      So do you recommend removing those children from their homes? If you do, how would that be any different than previous governments removing First Nations children from their homes? I see no good coming from government-mandated thought control.

      Unfortunately, the very argument – “upholding the right to various belief systems and to freedom of expression stops when that freedom is abused by threatening the rights of other people to live without discrimination” – is self-refuting. The government would in fact be discriminating against a group of people; it would just be government-sanctioned discrimination…yet again. Is that really what we want?

      I’m not sure what kind of religious people you know, but I personally don’t know of any who proclaim that God wants homosexuals – or anyone – killed, much less that they are being told by this God that they should be doing just that. They believe homosexuality to be a sin along with murder, stealing, gossip, pride…whatever else is on that list. There are already laws in place against actions that are criminal – stealing, murder, rape, etc. – so if there are indeed religious people who kill others in the name of God, they would be and will be held accountable by society through our law courts. Given the number of religious people in this country, one would think they’d be committing a whole lot more violent acts against so-called sinners if that was a part of their belief system, no?

      Either we have freedom of religion or we don’t.

      And I’ve met too many intelligent religious people to call the majority of the world’s population “stupid” because of their faith in a god.

      • Thanks for your comment, Kris. You make some great points. No, I absolutely wouldn’t recommend removing children from their homes. If that’s what came across in the post, then I humbly issue an apology. That was not at all what I meant to convey.

        I find myself fascinated by this recent development in Alberta’s educational and legal system on a number of different levels. I never dreamt that an issue like this would ever make its way into the Legislature. It is a complex issue for sure.

        Your points about government-sanctioned discrimination are well taken… Perhaps that is what is happening in schools already?

      • John Vezina says:

        Kris: Perhaps I should not have used the word “stupid” in the way that I did. Unfortunately, I was unable to find an alternate word. Perhaps you can suggest one? I meant that the act of teaching that being gay is a sin was stupid, not the people who teach it. I have done many stupid things and do so on a regular basis. I learn from that and avoid making the same mistake over and over again. Neither myself nor the people we are discussing are stupid, but we all do stupid things sometimes. Again. if you could suggest a better word for it then I will consider it.

        I was referring to the Holy Bible and its contents. Apparently, the Holy Bible does not apply to all believers, who seem to want to pick and choose the good bits and ignore the rest. I suppose that is better than being really dogmatic and literal about it like the Westborough Baptist church to name an extreme example. My point is that no one agrees with what God has really said nor if he really meant it nor if it applies to who and when and why. This is why there are over 30,000 Christian Denominations who cannot agree on which parts of the Bible mean what.

        Given that even Christians cannot agree on what rules to apply, I stand by my statement that the Government should rule against discrimination and the indoctrination and teaching of discriminatory rules to children.

        I do not think that children should be removed from their homes, therefore I do not have to answer your leading question. Your statement that you see no good in Government thought control is a logical fallacy and not applicable. No one ever mentioned Government thought control. What was and is mentioned is the prevention of discrimination. This is not thought control.

        You reference my statement that the right to self expression stops when it becomes a self-perpetuating classroom in how to discriminate and state that it is self-refuting. I completely disagree with you. Help me to understand why in what way is this self-refuting and perhaps I will then see your point?

        In an effort to propose some sort of solution which would not require “thought control” or the oppression of rights, could the Government allow religions to teach that being gay is a sin, as long as the students are concurrently made aware that it really is not a sin but is just the opinion of some stone-age tribe that did not really understand that being different sexually is a common trait not only with human kind, but with almost every animal we have ever studied.

        Respectfully yours,

        John

  5. The government has no business in telling religions what is to be considered a sin. The problem is not “what is a sin?”, but “how do we treat sinners?”

  6. Kris says:

    I think it’s ultimately a question of freedom, no matter what one’s personal views on homosexuality happen to be. Since we live in Canada, where freedom is a very definite national value and right, I think the above poster is right on the money. What society believes to be “best for the children” today (even – and perhaps especially – when those children’s parents have different views) may be looked up on as a crime tomorrow.

    We need only look at the Residential School fiasco, which I would be willing to bet began with only the best of intentions: The children needed to be taught certain things in a certain way and assimilated into society as a whole in the process. Of course, the whole process destroyed a generation of families and continues to have repercussions to this day.

    Let’s not go there again.

    Worthy values will win the day eventually. And values that aren’t worthy will eventually be shown for what they are.

  7. marcilaevens says:

    This leaves me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I am a firm supporter of teaching that diversity is good and NOT a sin. At the same time, I have a hard time legislating what a church or a parent can teach. I would be extremely upset if it a law passed that said I could not teach my children (in a home school setting) or talk about my belief that being gay is NOT a sin. So how can I support the opposite? I don’t think I can support this bill, even though I also don’t support teaching that homosexuality is a sin.

    • You make an interesting point. It occurred to me that governments come and go. What sits well with a government today could change ten, twenty or fifty years down the road. What if the tables turned in a few decades and a government mandated that we HAD to teach it was a sin? What would we do then? I appreciate your insight on this one.

  8. Scottie says:

    Parents have such a strong influence on what children are taught. Even if a child is presented with a balanced perspective for 30 minutes in a formal setting, the day to day messages, hateful and otherwise, will be inculcated into their being.

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