Secular Seminars Series
- Prayers in Public Spaces (now available!) See our Supreme Court Decision page
- Canada’s Blasphemy Law (available summer 2015)
- Writing About Secularism (available autumn 2015)
Education In The Community
Education is a top priority for Canadians. CFIC undertakes to provide educational materials and support to Canadian communities. Kids need access to science-based, critical thinking educational resources.
Chilliwack, British Columbia
The Chilliwack School District has a long history of promoting Gideon Bible distribution, despite community opposition to that activity. In October of 2012, local parents objected to Gideon Bible distribution with complaints to the provincial Education Minister. Over a period spanning 2012 and 2013, the School District unanimously approved a policy which would allow the distribution of Gideon bibles. The policy states:
Recognized charitable organizations and other organizations having educational or community service attributes may be authorized by the superintendent of schools or the superintendent’s delegate to have information or materials distributed.
The BC Humanists Association and the BC Civil Liberties Association expressed at that time a concern that the distribution of bibles in public schools contravenes Section 76 of the B. C. School Act. That Act requires schools to be secular.
The CFIC Education Committee determined that working within the District’s policy framework as a recognized charitable organization would be a reasonable test of the District’s process and would be a proud opportunity for CFIC to provide an excellent educational resource to BC students. Kevin Smith, CFIC’s Board Chair said, “You never know where the next Darwin or Dawkins might come from. Wouldn’t it be terrific to have motivated a young mind to great scientific achievements!”
Read the full documentation of CFIC experience in Chilliwack, BC.
According to this report in the Lethbridge Herald, reading of The Lord’s Prayer will be renewed at a local school. The decision was based on a survey conducted by Board. According to the report, the local decision-makers had
informed parents the council had determined 70 per cent of the surveys needed to be returned and 70 per cent of those returned needed to be in support of the action.
The view expressed was that a “strong majority” support would justify the implementation of the Lord’s Prayer in schools. This sentiment ignores an essential human rights principle of protecting minority perspectives from the tyranny of a strong majority view.
Taber, Alberta is the same community which passed a by-law restricting swearing in public and public assembly.
On May 4th, 2015 the Winnipeg School Board passed a motion to propose changes to provincial legislation relating to religious instruction in Manitoba schools (See the Winnipeg Free Press report). The proposed legislation change appears to refer to The Public Schools Act section 80(2) which states:
Petition for instruction in religion
80(2) If a petition requesting that religious instruction be given in a school is presented to the school board and is signed by
(a) the parents or guardians of at least 10 children attending the school having one or two classrooms; or
(b) the parents or guardians of at least 25 children attending the school having three or more classrooms;
the school board shall pass a by-law authorizing instruction in religion in compliance with the petition.
Altering this section from “shall pass” to “may pass” seems superficially to be a secularization of schools but in effect merely provides the School Board options to choose which faith-groups are granted their petitions and which are not. Instead CFIC would prefer that section 80(1), which currently states: ”Instruction in religion may be conducted in any school in Manitoba if authorized by a by-law passed by the school board.” be altered to read
80(1) Instruction in religion may not be conducted in any school in Manitoba.
Such a modernization of Manitoba’s The Public School Act would truly reflect the diversity of contemporary society and ethics while protecting all religious and non-religious perspectives from faith-based bigotry.
A forum for discussion of topics and issues related to CFI Canada’s mandate to promote science, reason, and secular values.
Canada’s Finest Dedicated Freethought Library is located at 55 Eglinton Avenue East – Suite 307.
Teaching The Controversy
Teaching the Controversy is a video-based educational programme based on popular “Teach The Controversy” t-shirts available at the CFI Canada office. What is the flying teapot anyway? Who is Chthulu? What do you mean by Extraordinary Claims? This series is focussed on providing the essential critical thinking background to todays’ most prevalent scientific, religious or philosophical controversies.