A few weekends ago I attended the ”Be Ready” Conference at the West Edmonton Christian Academy. The organiser of the event had sent our page a message letting us know about a debate going on in Calgary as part of the weekend conference (which ran in both Calgary and Edmonton at the same time) because it included an atheist. Unable to attend that, I looked at what was happening at the Edmonton event and noticed a talk entitled ”The Atheist Experience”
Recently our President, Karen, was part of a discussion on Human Rights without God at the University as part of the Relevant series put on by the Christian Student Union groups. Here is a transcript of her presentation:
In order to discuss the ideas of Human Rights we first have to break it down into sections to discuss:
- Human Rights stem from ideas that humans are unique in our dignity, worth and value
- Human Rights come from a sense of equality, which in turn comes from a sense of justice and fairness
- Justice and fairness require a method of morality; how we come to know right from wrong while also requiring we care for others.
I hold an evolutionary viewpoint on morals, one which includes consequentialism and constructivism and what world leading primatologist, Frans De Waal has coined as ‘’bottom-up morality’’. My arguments lie more in biology than they do in philosophy.
In the spring of 2015 my son was enrolled at Sir George Simpson school in St. Albert, and we had an email message sent to all parents about sex education classes that would be offered. At the time, I was already aware of the issues with the Pregnancy Care Centre providing abstinence-only based sex ed classes, due to the stories out of Edmonton, where they were banned from presenting. I immediately contacted the Principal of the school to express my concerns and to withdraw my consent from my son participating. I made it quite clear that I was not withdrawing consent because I was not willing to allow him a proper sex education, but rather that this was NOT a proper sex education and that instead I would be teaching him at home.
UPCOMING EVENT OF INTEREST, hosted by the Centre for Constitutional Studies:
Debate: Alberta Should Have One Public School System, Not Two
For the Motion:
Former Minister of Education and Executive Director of the Public School Boards’ Association of Alberta
Against the Motion:
Professor, University of Calgary Werklund School of Education
Thursday, February 8, 2018
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
TELUS Centre – Auditorium (Rm 150)
University of Alberta (87 Ave & 111 St)
Join us for a spirited debate on whether Alberta should change its dual school system of public and separate schools to one public school system. What are the constitutional considerations?
This event is free and open to the public.
Join the SEA in supporting OURIDEA.CA’s upcoming event.
Why do a Former Education Minister, Parent advocate, and former Catholic School Trustee believe it is time for a referendum on separate Catholic schools? Join Former Education Minister David King, Former Catholic School Trustee Patricia Grell and Public Education Advocate Luke Fevin for an evening of discussion and debate around the question:
What is the future of Catholic School Boards in Alberta?
Ibrahim is an atheist blogger and activist in Bangladesh who has received repeated death threats because wrote about atheism, LGBTQ freedoms & Islamization. He not only expressed his beliefs, but stands up courageously to uphold the principle of basic human rights. The penalty for doing so is death, often carried out by vigilante groups; the violence generally condoned by local governments.
Talking and writing about a humanist way of living is not tolerated in many parts of the world. Many of Ibrahim’s friends have been murdered by AL-Queda in Bangladesh, others have fled to escape brutal murder; he is one of those seeking safety for his family.
We won’t let them journey alone! Now you can help bring them to Canada.
Last night we had the pleasure of hearing Gail Miller, one of the directors of the Critical Thinking Project, speak to us about the project and what it’s goals are.
The focus is on developing nations, education quality and giving tools to deal with dogma, witchcraft and violence. The underlying foundation is one of fairness and tolerance, using critical thinking skills to become less discriminatory. Dr. Christopher DiCarlo started this as a sample program for high school students in Ontario and is now taking the project to developing nations.
With all the information floating around lately about Catholic schools, religion classes, and funding, we thought we’d just remind everyone about the Alberta Act and the Northwest Territories Ordinances of 1901 that govern our school boards. Here’s what they say:
Alberta School Act
Religious and patriotic instruction
50(1) A board may
(a) prescribe religious instruction to be offered to its students;
(b) prescribe religious exercises for its students;
(c) prescribe patriotic instruction to be offered to its students;
(d) prescribe patriotic exercises for its students;
(e) permit persons other than teachers to provide religious instruction to its students.
(2) Where a teacher or other person providing religious or patriotic instruction receives a written request signed by a parent of a student that the student be excluded from religious or patriotic instruction or exercises, or both, the teacher or other person shall permit the student
(a) to leave the classroom or place where the instruction or exercises are taking place for the duration of the instruction or exercises, or
(b) to remain in the classroom or place without taking part in the instruction or exercises.
Ordinances of Northwest Territories, 1901
137 No religious instruction except as hereinafter provided shall be permitted in the school of any district from the opening of such school until one half hour previous to its closing in the afternoon after which time any such instruction permitted or desired by the board may be given.
Time for the Lord’s prayer
(2) It shall however be permissible for the board of any district to direct that the school be opened by the recitation of the Lord’s prayer. C.O., c.75, s.110.
Attendance not compulsory during religious exercise
138 Any child shall have the privilege of leaving the school room at the time at which religious instruction is commenced as provided for in the next preceding
section or on remaining without taking part in any religious instruction that may be given if the parents or guardians do desire.
C.O., c.75, s.111.
A Court of Queen’s bench judgement out of Saskatchewan on April 20th regarding non-Catholics attending Catholic schools raised more questions for me than answers, so I phoned up Luke Fevin, one of our board directors but also founder of the secular rights education group APUPIL, to go over some things with me so I could understand it better.
In response to the growing public pressure to examine the real cost & benefit of the duplicate Separate Catholic school system in Alberta, the President of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association recently wrote & widely distributed an opinion piece entitled “Catholic Education: Confronting Fiction with Facts.” – a delicious title given the subject matter at hand.
It transpires, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the “Fact versus Fiction” format wasn’t ACSTA’s core competency and ultimately the Coles Notes / tl;dr version is that what ACSTA is actually separate from is “reality”, and what they *should* be separate from is the millions and millions of public dollars that they take.