Keep religion out of public schools

Saturday's Citizen presented an article on the rise of public school Bible studies in the United States.

Demographically, America has a far greater slice of its population who self-identify as evangelical than does Canada.

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Thirty per cent or more is the figure normally used compared with under ten per cent in Canada.

The southern states - the former Confederacy - have the highest numbers.

Surveys showed a large growth in the late 20th century but are now noting a slight decline, especially amongst the young.

As an example of that difference, many American politicans openly espouse Christian doctrine as part of theirpolitical campaigns.

In Canada, Stephen Harper took pains to keep his fundamentalism out of public view.

The former Reform Party, now part of the Conservatives, had many members, such as its leader Stockwell Day who were openly fundamentalist Christians, but even they respected the boundaries between their faithand politics.

Multicultural Canada is more secular without the necessity of concluding every political speech with "God bless America/Canada."

So, with that distinction in mind, could the same happen in Canadian schools?

To some degree, it already has.

And it has been that way for decades.

In Alberta, the Catholic School system runs parallel with the public schools.

Both are publicly funded. Statistically, almost 40 per cent of Canadians are Catholic with under 30 per cent in other Christian affiliations.

Private religious schools dot the landscape in all provinces.

In the U.S., almost half aresome variety of Protestant with another 23 per cent Catholic.

While both countries are almost 70 per cent self-identified Christian, the difference is remarkable.

In my opinion, the public school systems in Canada have been and should remain secular.

Any attempt to follow Kentucky would soon become a political nightmare for the school board that attempted to do so.

That difference is magnified by differences in our societies.

Canadians are quietly religious save for some communities - Abbotsford and the Okanagan come to mind.

In the U.S., rigorous religious affiliation is openly part of the political process - candidates for office often put their religious affiliation front and centrelike George W. Bush.

While much is made of the American separation of church and state, since the fall of the Duplessis regime in Quebec and the collapse of the Social Credit party, religion seems to have only a minor impact politically in most of Canada.

I have respect for those who hold any strong religious belief even if I do not share their faith.

This is true especially when they respect my right to hold a different belief.

Teaching Christianity in multicultural public schools is wrong and contrary to the American separation of church and state doctrine and our own Canadian Rights and Freedoms.

Let what Kentucky does stay in Kentucky.

Religious education is better left to private schools and families that want their children to learn their faith through teaching and example.

Willow Arune

Prince George

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