Correspondence

Quebec’s New State Religion

In June 2005, the National Assembly of Quebec adopted Bill 95, which changed the nature of religious and moral teaching in all schools across Quebec.  Before 2008, parents could choose between Catholic, Protestant, and nonreligious options.  Now all students in both public and private schools are required by law to take a course on religious culture and ethics.  Even homeschoolers must receive the “equivalent” of this program, which has been applied in classrooms since September 2008 and covers all the years of primary and secondary school.

Although the Education Act provides that school boards may exempt children from certain courses for humanitarian reasons or to prevent serious harm to a child, the Ministry of Education has made it clear that it will tolerate no exceptions to this course.  Thousands of parents from many different public schools have been refused the right to withdraw their children.  This led the family of Daniel Jutras and Suzanne Lavallée, supported by the Coalition for Freedom in Education, to take their case to the Superior Court of Quebec in Drummondville.

On August 31, Judge Jean-Guy Dubois ruled in favor of the school board and the Ministry of Education and against the right of parents to have their child exempted from the course.  He was strongly influenced by expert witness Gilles Routhier, a priest and theologian of Quebec City, who quoted Pope John Paul II (in Catechesi...

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