Ne pas choisir, c'est choisir de ne pas choisir!!
Voilà ce que je rétorque à ceux et celles qui m'entourent et qui disent ne pas vouloir baptiser leur enfant, par exemple. "On ne peut pas choisir pour lui. Il fera ses choix plus tard." Moi, je dis, en ne choisissant pas pour lui, vous choisissez de ne pas choisir, et ça revient au même. Vous faites quand même un choix."
Choisir de ne pas manger de viande, choisir d'en manger aussi. Les non-choix qu'on fait pour nos enfants sont tout de même des non-choix!
Choisir d'être neutre en ce qui concerne le cours d'Étique et de culture religieuse, c'est déjà faire un choix.
Je vous suggère de lire la lettre de M. John Zucchi, père d'un élève de Loyola qui s'exprime sur la "neutralité" dans The Gazette. C'est extrêmement édifiant. Avec ce jugement, on commence enfin à parler du vrai problème: le manquement à la démocratie et à la liberté.
Quand même ironique de voir que c'est un Collège et un parent ANGLOPHONES qui luttent pour le respect des droits des Québécois, en cette veille de la St-Jean.
Being 'neutral' on religion involves making a choice
Court strikes a blow for common sense and religious freedom in Loyola ruling
BY JOHN ZUCCHI, FREELANCE JUNE 23, 2010
Quebec Judge Gerard Dugre has reminded Quebec's education minister that when it comes to the constitutional rights of citizens, the discretionary powers of politicians and bureaucrats are particularly constrained.
In his judgment this week, Dugre compared Michelle Courchesne's attempt to micro-manage the curriculum of a private Catholic high school with the intransigence of the church toward Galileo four centuries ago.
Dugre said he found it "surprising" that Courchesne refused to let Montreal's 115-year-old Loyola High School teach the Ethics and Religious Culture program from a Catholic perspective. Two years ago, the education ministry imposed ERC on all schools in Quebec, public and private, and demanded they teach the program from a "neutral" stance.
Loyola never refused to teach the ERC course. But it appealed to bureaucrats and the minister to reconsider the implications, never mind the basic common sense, of requiring a private Catholic school to take a "neutral" attitude toward religious belief. The minister was unmoved.
On behalf of my son, Thomas, who attends Loyola, I joined the school in taking the government to court to overturn the ministry order. In June 2009, we argued during five days of trial that the state cannot coerce a private institution with a discrete religious identity to teach from a neutral perspective. Dugre agreed.
"The obligation imposed on Loyola to teach ERC subjects from a secular perspective takes on a totalitarian character that is essentially equivalent to the order that the Inquisition gave Galileo to renounce the Copernican cosmology," he wrote in his 63-page decision that is a masterpiece of legal thinking.
"In this age of respect for fundamental rights, of tolerance, reasonable accommodation, and multiculturalism, the attitude adopted by the minister in the present matter is surprising," he said.
The judgment touches on fine points of administrative law, including the discretionary powers of a cabinet minister, and the meaning of "equivalency" (in other words is the Loyola program equivalent to the ERC program). Dugre finds that the ministry misinterpreted the meaning of "equivalent" and that the sequence of courses Loyola offers is equivalent to the ministry's program.
On the question of whether the state can coerce a private religious institution to teach from a neutral perspective, Dugre responds with an unequivocal "no." A religious school is a moral person whose religious rights are guaranteed by Article 3 of the Quebec Charter of Rights.
Moreover, as a parent, I wish to have my son educated in this religious institution from a Catholic perspective. The judge refers to a ruling from international law that, while allowing for an objective and pluralistic education, also respects the religious and philosophical convictions of parents in the education of their children.
The trial and judgment raise a deeper issue, however, than the points of law resolved by Charter argument. The proceedings dug into the possibility of the state acting in a "neutral" fashion when it is mandating a very specific perspective for even private institutions.
In his closing comments at the trial, our lawyer Mark Phillips asked just how far the state was prepared to go with its program. If it was telling a private religious institution that it could no longer teach a program from its own perspective, what was next? Would the state enter our churches and synagogues and tell preachers what they can or cannot preach?
Dugre understood the implications of this when he asked at mid-trial with what seemed to me a hint of frustration: "What does neutral mean? Is neutrality really neutral? Neutrality involves a choice. For example when Pontius Pilate washed his hands in front of the crowd he chose to send Jesus to his death."
I must think his example was chosen quite deliberately, given the subject of the trial. I believe, as well, that fair-minded Canadians of all religious persuasions would agree with him.
In education, a neutral position is not neutral. Neither is a secular position, nor a liberal one. Even neutrality involves a choice. The proponents of neutrality are advancing their own liberal perspectives as simply one more perspective out there in a plurality of positions.
Yet the dogged insistence of the forces of secularization in advancing their project to remove religion from the public forum in Quebec in recent years has made it plain that they bear their own version of religious zeal.
Courchesne's behaviour toward Loyola High School is not just the state overstepping its bounds. It is an overstepping that is driven by the quasi-religious zealotry of secular forces. Neutrality suddenly looks suspiciously like a government-enforced creed.
Fortunately, we have constitutional guarantees, and perceptive jurists such as Dugre, to protect us from the excesses of politicians and bureaucrats who believe the world turns on their whims.
If the Loyola case was an opportunity to be reminded of that, it was an opening for something much more: moral courage born of humility.
John Zucchi is a professor and chair of the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill University.
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