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Should Your Tax Dollars Pay For Someone Else’s Faith Training?

Posted by on March 18, 2009

There is a theory in society today that is largely ignored, and I’m not just talking about big people in small bathing suits.

In Ontario like much of the U.S., our political system pretends to operate on a priority of  separation between church and state, but more times than not that line is blurred, with the church (like many priests) usually operating in areas they know they shouldn’t be. A prime example of this is the public funding for the Separate(Catholic) School system.

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The Separate School system are elementary and high schools that exist solely for educating children of Catholic parents. They allow the enrollment of non-Catholics, but these kids are at most times alienated from their peers (as jesus would have wanted) and constantly asked, “So you’re NOT catholic? So why are you here?” Which is always a comfortable question for a thirteen year old.  Though I applaud the Catholic board for allowing non-Catholics to enroll, it goes no further to foster understanding or acceptance of other religions.

I once had a good friend who teaches grade school in the Catholic system tell me how he doesn’t think its right for non-catholics to be enrolled in a Catholic school. It honestly took me a few moments to figure out he was not joking, and that this supposed teacher of the lord was essentially pro-segregation.  I had to explain to him that if he was in fact so confident and proud of his religion would it not be in the church’s best interest to take children of any faith into their schools to “enlighten” (barely kept a straight face while saying that) them and show them a better way.  My friend seemed to soften to this logic as I guess it appealed to his catholic sense of self-righteousness.

Now, I admit that I was educated in the Catholic system, so I have a first hand knowledge of what these identity theft factories look like from the inside.  In regards to education, I think the public and Catholic system are on par, you have good and bad teachers, just as you have good and bad students.  However, I am sure I would have benefited more in the public system as I would have been able to substitute 4 years of mandatory religion classes for something a little more useful. Surprisingly, explaining the holy trinity spirit was not a prerequisite for entrance into University.

My main qualm is that funding for Catholic schools are provided by the Canadian government, while no other religious centric schools (to my knowledge) are granted the same privilege. Another Catholic teacher friend of mine once argued their government funding is justified because Catholics make up half of the people in Canada.  Now, that would make a strong point if it were even remotely accurate.  In all of Canada, Catholics make up 43.6% of the population, but in Ontario they make up under 35%, and are a minority in comparison to Protestants.  So if we were to keep with this logic, in fairness, I think its only right that Catholics quickly make their exodus from their precious schools and let the Protestants take what is apparently rightfully theirs.

Another point brought up in a conversation I had about this topic at the gym today (note: nothing shatters my workout focus like this conversation) revolved tightly around the fact that funding for Catholics in law in Canada. Being written either into our Constitution or the BNA Act. Now I’m not about to sort through these documents to figure out which because frankly it doesn’t matter.  Simply because someone over a hundred years ago wrote something on a piece of paper does not automatically make it applicable to 2009. For one minor example, let’s take slavery. Slavery seemed like a good idea to some guy hundreds (some can argue thousands) of years ago, and so we come to our present centuries where African-Americans had owners. OWNERS! Needless to say, stating something is logically passable because it was once written into law holds no water with me.

The government funding of religion specific schools is no better an idea than a racial centric school. These ideas merely perpetuate the idea that one group of citizens are “better” than another; or at the very least suggest that Catholic humans are different from Jewish humans or Muslims humans. This message, though subtle, takes significant steps towards removing Jesus’ teachings of “love thy neighbor as thyself” (even though in biblical times ‘neighbor’ simply meant Jew). It should not be left up to a child or teenager to reconcile the pride he has with his school and the pride he has of his religion.  You can draw a straight line from the “my school is better than your school” chant, to “my religion is better than your religion.”

The way I see it, if Catholics think their schools are so superior and so crucial to the proper development of their children then they should have to put their wallets where their faith is.  For example, if the Canadian government began taxing Catholic church revenues, and began taxing their land I am sure that would provide a whopping starting subsidy to fund their education system. Imagine the surplus of taxpayer money that could then be put into more productive ventures to help all Canadians.

If Catholic parents feel so strongly about their children needing an education in Catholicism, they should look away from taxpayers and the government and perhaps even take a page from Jesus himself… and lead by example.

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