Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten
Credits: DAVE THOMAS/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - The big question you ask upon hearing of a Muslim prayer room planned for a Catholic school in London is why?
Why are Muslims choosing a Catholic high school over public schools?
The answer is simple.
People of faith - any faith - want their children raised with values and morals and ethics.
And they don't see that happening in the public school system, which has become a dumping ground for every crazed new piece of edubabble that comes along.
So now we have the utterly ludicrous situation at Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, which is carpeting an office and providing prayer mats for students, so Muslim students can pray.
No problemo, says Education Minister Laurel Broten. It fits with the province's "religious accommodation," guidelines, whereby students of all faiths are allowed special privileges so they can worship at school.
"As I understand it, in London they have decided that is something they'd like to offer students," Broten told reporters Monday. "Obviously, that's something they think will make students feel welcome in their school."
I guess the next "religious accommodation," is that Catholic schools will be asked to remove crucifixes, because they make non-Catholics feel uncomfortable.
Didn't we have an election in 2007 when Dalton McGuinty's Liberals turned the ballot question into one that asked if we wanted faith-based schools?
Didn't voters overwhelmingly say they did not?
So why are we allowing religious services in publicly-funded schools by the back door?
And yes, I understand the double-standard of Catholics having funding for their schools and other faiths not having that privilege.
That's an historic anomaly that then-PC leader John Tory was trying to redress with his policy. Voters rejected it. In hindsight, though, if we're going to allow people of all religions to demand accommodation of their faith within all schools, we might have been wiser just to allow each faith to run their own schools.
The Jewish community has for decades quietly operated their own very fine schools. They didn't ask for services in public schools. Many Jewish parents are happy to pay to have their children educated according to their beliefs.
You can see where this is going. This is a great multi-faith province. Our strength is our diversity. But if we allow our every faith to run services willy-nilly in school offices, cafeterias and gyms, the result will be chaos.
Schools will be fractured into faith silos, classrooms will be disrupted and it will serve to underscore what makes us different - not what brings us together.
We need some ground rules.
There's no room for discrimination within our schools.
First, girls must not be treated like second class citizens. They must not be forced to sit behind boys. In one school in Toronto where Muslim prayers are accommodated in the cafeteria on Fridays, girls sit behind boys and those who are menstruating must sit behind everyone.
That is a disgraceful way to treat girls and should not be tolerated.
The second rule is that the rest of the students in the school should not be inconvenienced.
When the Liberals pushed through their anti-bullying bill and forced Gay/Straight Alliances on Catholic schools, they said the rights of gay students took precedence over religious freedoms.
Are we now saying that girls don't have that same right?
They have to sit in the back of the bus?
Or are human rights and freedom of religion in this province decided by who has the loudest lobby group?
Let's all pray sanity returns.