A publicly-funded Christian school in Canada told not to teach Bible passages which could be deemed “offensive” has said its religious freedom is under attack.
Cornerstone Christian Academy, in Alberta, Canada, was told that certain scripture passages can “denigrate or vilify” LGBT people.
An email sent by its funding body – Battle River School Division – states that “any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals should not be read or studied”.
In Alberta, public funding is allocated to Christian schools like Cornerstone via an agreement between the school and a board like Battle River.
Chair of Cornerstone Deanna Margel described the demand as “shocking” and said it represents an attack on “freedom of religion” and “freedom of expression”.
The school is now taking legal advice from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom (JCCF), a religious liberty group which aims to uphold the constitutional rights of Canadians.
A JCCF spokesman stressed that trustees on the funding body “have no right to impose their own ideology on schools they disagree with”.
Cornerstone Christian Academy previously acquiesced to a “directive” to remove a section of 1 Corinthians mentioning sexual immorality from its statement of faith.
It felt that the change was a compromise, made out of “respect of the relationship” it had with the trustees.
However, after it agreed to drop the Bible reference, a further email was sent asking for “offensive” scripture passages to be avoided.
Margel said: “That’s a completely different directive, and it was shocking. Absolutely shocking”.
A spokesman for Battle River School Division (BRSD) said it felt compelled to make the demand after a change to Canadian human rights legislation.
If the school and BRSD are unable to reconcile their differences, Cornerstone will have to find a new board to access funding. If this cannot be done, it will have to find private funding or shut down.
Free speech eroded
Canada has hit headlines in recent months for ‘progressive’ measures which threaten to erode free speech.
At the end of 2016, a professor of psychology hit out at a Bill which aims to prohibit discrimination against ‘gender expression’.
Dr Jordan Peterson, of the University of Toronto, said Bill C-16 – which has now passed – could result in him being charged with a hate crime for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns such as ‘ze’ and ‘zir’ instead of ‘he’ and ‘she’ at work.
Peterson said: “Free speech is not just another value. It’s the foundation of Western civilisation.”