Sunday, June 3, 2012

A cult is a religion with no political power.

That's Thomas Wolfe.

Michael Coren and Christina Blizzard may not quite be liars, but their columns this week wouldn't recognise accuracy if they passed it on the street. This is not exactly new.  They thrive more on indignation than accuracy.

They do get one or two things right.  First, homosexuality is not the leading cause of bullying in schools.  It's body image.  This would be more important if the Minister of Education were claiming anything different.  I don't think many are bullied for their religion.  If they are, Catholics would be way down on the list.  Particularly middle aged Catholic converts.  Second, the Ontario government has no business telling the Catholic Church what it can and can't believe.  If the government were telling the church to stop preaching hate against the LGBT community, I'd stand beside Michael Coren in condemning this.

So even the things they do get right, they manage to get wrong.

It's true that the government has introduced legislation dictating that Gay Straight Alliances be allowed.  But that's the end of it.  The government has no control over the pulpit, and the church ought to have no control over Queen's Park.

This is a symptom of a much larger problem in Canada (though not uniformly).  The BNA guaranteed Christian religious minorities a provincial-run religious school system.  In what is now Ontario, Catholics were given schools.  In Quebec, Protestants were protected.  I'm sure this seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn't.  It's an especially bad idea now.

I have no problem with the Catholic church saying whatever it wants about gay kids (although any claims to a moral high ground when it comes to sex seem disingenuous at best).  It can say that God hates them and they're going to hell.  It can say that they are abominations.  It  can say that they are choosing to be bullied and persecuted.  It's nonsense, but so is the rest of their doctrine.

Publicly funded schools, however, can't say that.  I don't think that private schools should be able to, either, but I understand that they can.  Publicly funded schools are accountable to the public.  The public has decided that gay is okay.  Our schools should reflect that.  Catholic educators in Ontario need to decide which is more important: the catechism or the money.  They can't have both.

This is not a question of religious freedom.  When Coren and Blizzard say so, they are lying.  This is a question of funding, and of gay rights (read: human rights).

The solution is obvious.  The only question is whether Ontario's politicians or bishops will be brave enough to implement it.

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