On the Front Lines of the Culture Wars

A group of Catholic and Jewish parents is taking the Canadian province of Quebec to court to challenge a government ban on religious teachings at subsidized daycare centers.

No more praying in Canadian day-care centers

“The parents say a Quebec policy that prohibits religious instruction in government subsidized daycare centers contravenes the federal and provincial charters of rights, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday, May 31,” reports Ron Csillag for the Religion News Service.

The provincial directive, which took effect Wednesday, allows inspectors to determine if religion is being taught to children. The rules prohibit mention of God or miracles or prayer. Also banned would be Christmas programs that include nativity scenes.

Parents in Quebec pay $7 a day to send their children to daycare. The government covers the balance of approximately $40 a day. There are about 2,000 subsidized daycares serving children 5 and under.

Sandy Jesion, a plaintiff in the case whose daughter attends a subsidized Jewish daycare in Montreal, told the National Post newspaper that the Bible’s story about the flood “is not a problem, but the fact that God spoke to Noah and told him to build the Ark is religious, and under the directive, you can’t do that.”

Yolande James, Quebec’s Family Minister, said she stands by the policy. “Society has accepted that the teaching of faith is not in the public school system, and the same principle is applicable here in the subsidized daycare system,” she told the Post.

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