What “atheist schools”?

Over at Holy Post, Iain T. Benson has set up quite the Straw person argument:

For some, the fact that the school was partly subsidized should qualify the rights of the Catholic school on the theory there is a generalized and valid “secularized curriculum,” that is “the state’s.”

This approach, though it is commonly heard, is, with respect to those who differ, incorrect in both law and principle. “Public” means “publically funded” and, when properly understood, there is room in our law and principles for both public religious education and public religious schools, and no room for one “secularized curriculum” or an atheist or agnostically dominated “public” in the way this is all too often suggested or implied. Not allowing publicly funded religious education is a blatant infringement of religious liberty, or should be seen as such.

Let’s be clear about a few things above. There are no atheist or agnostic schools in existence in Canada, nor would not I support any such school. A secularized curriculum is one that teaches anatomy, biology, chemistry, english, french (remember, we’re in Canada), history, geography, mathematics, philosophy, physical education, physics, religion as history, sex education, and so on. A publicly funded religious education teaches all of the above except religion becomes religion as truth, and there is no sex education. Nowhere in the above could atheism and agnosticism be taught without teaching a theological point of view except possibly in the philosophy class. However, teaching the disbelief of something requires teaching the belief of something.

Also, if there is room for religious education in the public sphere, as suggested, why is there no room for these “secularized” curricula? Why should religious schools be the only ones in existence? Public schools are generally better at provided art and music classes and not discriminating both against other students and against their teachers.

He goes on to say the following:

Canadian history, from the beginning, has recognized the relevance of religion as a public good and statistics support its importance in areas such as charitable giving, volunteerism and membership. The importance of publicly assisted religious charitable work is well known in Canada and essential to our society.

So, why should religious parents be forced to pay more (or get less) than those parents who want an atheistic or agnostic faith-based education for their children? Who gave atheists and agnostics control of the public purse strings? Answer: no one. The Chamberlain decision rejected that sort of approach and ruled there is no basis in the Canadian Constitution to make religious people second-class citizens excluded from the public sphere.

I fail to see why something done in the past is relevant only because it was done in the done in past. While I don’t doubt that statistics about charitable giving, volunteerism, and membership, this is more likely due to the facts that all money given to religions is considered charitable and that religion is organized.

Parents of religious children do not get less and pay more. They get the same (or more if you’re catholic) and pay the same. Every student is taught the same amount of information. Just because your child isn’t being taught what you want he or she to be taught doesn’t mean you are getting less. It should be noted that parents are not the only ones who pay school taxes. I pay taxes and don’t have children in the publicly funded (either secular or religious) schools.

The rest of the piece is essentially be respectful of religion because we did so in the past. mmm…no.

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