February 26, 2012
Canada's highest court has ruled that children in Quebec schools cannot opt out of a course on ethics and world religions, the Religion News Service reports. The Supreme Court on Feb. 17 unanimously rejected an appeal from Catholic parents who sought to keep their children out of the class because they felt exposing them to a variety of religions would confuse them. The nine high court judges disagreed, saying that exposing children to different beliefs and values was a fact of life in Canada's multicultural society. Simply teaching children other religions "does not constitute an indoctrination of students that would infringe on the [parents'] freedom of religion," the court said. The mandatory course is seen as part of Quebec's ongoing march toward secularism; it covers many world religions from a cultural perspective. When it was established in 2008, some parents argued it infringed on their freedom of conscience; the Supreme Court decision upheld two lower court ruling that dismissed the parents' claim.