Don Hutchinson speaks to members of the media after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on contentious portions of the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act in 2010. (Chris Roussakis/ QMI Agency)
The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing arguments over the mandatory teaching of the Ethics, Religion and Culture classes in all Quebec schools.
In 2008, the province started forcing all students, in private, religious and public schools to take the controversial "ERC" classes.
The Ministry of Education says the purpose is to promote tolerance of all beliefs – and no one is allowed to opt-out for any reason.
The courses instruct youngsters on dozens of world religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Wicca. Religious families and civil libertarians are joining forces to fight the mandatory requirement in the Supreme Court.
"This case will cut to the core of what freedom of religion and conscience and parental authority mean in Canada,” states Don Hutchinson, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Vice-President and General Legal Counsel. "Parents simply want the right to teach morality and religion from their perspective, or decide who will do so on their behalf. The right to pass on one’s religious and cultural heritage to their children is a fundamental aspect of religious freedom and parental authority in Canada.”
The province lost its earlier fight with Loyola High, last June.
The private religious school was exempted from teaching the secular course, and the judge strongly criticized the government.
"The obligation imposed on Loyola to teach ERC subjects from a secular perspective takes on a totalitarian character that is essentially equivalent to the order that the Inquisition gave Galileo to renounce the Copernican cosmology,” wrote Quebec Superior Court Justice Gérard Dugré in his 2010 ruling.
The Quebec Ministry of Education did not respond to a request for an interview.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the matter this Fall.