Alberta considering draconian, anti-family “tolerance” law

I just read an alert in the weekly update I receive from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) that described a chilling law the Canadian province of Alberta is looking to pass.

Here’s a summary from the HSLDA which includes what appears to be a quote from the bill:

The legislative proposal known as Bill 2 in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta would explicitly require that all instructional materials “reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act.” The bill further requires not only public schools, but also private schools and homeschools to comply with these requirements (§ 1 “interpretation of school”).

The alert also includes this quote from Alberta Minister of Education, Thomas Lukaszuk:

“Whatever the nature of schooling—homeschool, private school, Catholic school—we do not tolerate disrespect for differences.”

…and this quote from his assistant director for communications, Donna McColl:

“Whatever the nature of schooling—homeschool, private school, Catholic school—we do not tolerate disrespect for differences… You can affirm the family’s ideology in your family life; you just can’t do it as part of your educational study and instruction.”

Please understand: I’m not one to jump at conspiracy theories, and I hear my share. I’m not one who believes all the governmental “Straw Man” arguments, 501(c)(3) lunacy, etc. But these comments should be chilling to anyone who cherishes their ability to act on God’s command in Deuteronomy 6:6-7,

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

English: self authored by chen siyuan. release...
Teaching your kids that certain behaviors are sin? The Alberta Legislature might have something to say about that... (Image via Wikipedia)

Actually, these comments are both disturbing and revealing in a number of ways. For instance, it seems to make a magical distinction between “family life” and education and instruction–the exact opposite of what Deuteronomy 6 says, which describes instruction as interwoven with family life, teaching as you sit, walk by the way, lie down, rise up. Those who think that “family life” and “educational life” are two completely distinct things have fallen for a lie meant to weaken the family. (Not that they invented the lie or purpose to do wrong in their heart. It is from the father of lies, and those who believe it often think they are doing people a service.)

Also, it forces families schooling their children at home to be hypocrites. For instance, if Alberta decides that tolerance for homosexuality should be taught and the parents believe that it is a sin, the parents are somehow supposed to teach “affirm in their family life” that the the choice to engage in homosexual practices is to be avoided as displeasing to God and not to be respected as an allowable choice on the one hand while simultaneously actively teaching that homosexual lifestyles are to be respected and upheld as just as good as proper sexual relations within marriage.

(It would be nice if Alberta allowed that a family could teach that truly respecting a person doesn’t mean one has to tolerate the presence of sin in their lives but that, quite the contrary, truly loving a person means being willing to warn them about the dangers of that sin in their lives and describing that sin for what it truly is: something noxious to their Creator. If someone in Alberta could help me see that this is what they mean by “respect,” I’d be much obliged.)

Of course, the comments are also irrational and misleading. After all, “disrespect for differences” is all over the place in both law and common society and is widely approved. Those who differ from the rest of us on how ownership should be understood are arrested when they steal. Those who differ on what constitutes “consent” in sexual matters are still arrested when they break applicable laws. How are those differences “respected”? It is a matter of what differences the government gives you the right to disrespect, of course–part of the ungodly idea that government determines right and wrong instead of God. The words “right and wrong” may be removed from the discussion, but they are implicitly present all the time in such legislation. As better men than me have noted, proclamations of government and legislature are inherently moral in spirit and tone and it is folly to pretend otherwise. This is often all the more blatant in laws dealing with education.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

As English literary giant Samuel Johnson once noted, “The supreme end of education is expert discernment in all things–the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and genuine to the bad and counterfeit.” Alberta’s proposed bill seeks to rob from parents the right to teach their own children how to distinguish the good from the bad and how to prefer the good and genuine to the bad and counterfeit. And worse still, it seeks to force parents to be the instruments of the state in indoctrinating their own children in the government’s ideas about what is good and bad–forcing the parents to be agents in teaching their children to believe things they do not themselves believe. How satanic.

More could be said, but I don’t have much more time–and it’s probably best that way, as my ire would probably keep me going for a while. As I have said many a time here on my blog, I am not political in the sense that I do not participate in the political life of any country (e.g., I do not vote, do not endorse political candidates, do not seek to affect legislation) — nor does anyone who shares my faith. I believe that Christ has called me out of that. But sighing and crying over the state of things is another matter (cf. Ezekiel 9:4), as is crying aloud about them (Isaiah 58:1) and looking forward to being empowered with Christ at His return to make a real, lasting difference (2 Cor. 10:4-6, Rev. 20:4, 6).

Unless HSLDA has done the worst job humanly possible in describing Alberta’s Bill 2, it truly does represent a horrendous moral attack on the integrity of the family, homeschooling or not, and for the sake of those families living in our wonderful neighbor to the north who are striving to teach their children godly morals that go against the grain of government-approved values, I pray that the bill fails. And I pray, too, that politicians in our own country don’t get any ideas.

19 thoughts on “Alberta considering draconian, anti-family “tolerance” law

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    We may not be political, but we can still recognize tyranny when we see it (another distinction). This is a form of tyranny, as stated. And if we in the US really do start emphasizing “freedom of worship” rather than “freedom of religion”, it’s only a matter of time before such a thing happens here, if it hasn’t been tried already.

    I’ve been thinking for some time that our society would start turning the wheel from seeking peace at any price (a false definition of “tolerance”) to enforcing a logical framework, a system of “justice”, that doesn’t jive with God’s logical framework or system of justice. And now we are seeing it happen. Next they’ll be “making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice” and make all sorts of unfair allegations against those who defy them with regard to specific points of what they consider “lawful” or not.

    I’m not promoting a conspiracy theory, I’m thinking of a progression in what the Germans would call zeitgeist – a shifting overemphasis first on one, then on another natural mode of thinking apart from God’s Spirit, and in a systematic pattern. And I base it on an interesting point of view that a lady in the Church passed on to me a long time ago now: a correlation between the Beatitudes and true-Church history (and by implication, what’s happening in the world around the Church at about the same time).

  2. Norbert

    The topic is comparable to Acts 17:7 “… and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms first words are “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:”

    From what I understand, recognizing the supremacy of God and recognizing God are two different matters. When one fails to recognize God, then the rule of law that is legislated can fail to recognize His supremacy.

  3. Zono Riggs

    Ahhh! Persecution cometh! I have been reading the “The Incredible History of God’s True Church” which is focused on the history of God’s church in Britain. Satan uses both the pagan ideologies and the false Christian ones to persecute God’s people. As we get closer to Christ’s return fleeing from one country or state to another will become necessary. Matt. 10:23. We best be praying that God will provide sanctuary for His people in several places. We will have to endure much before we are removed to safety.

  4. Teresa

    We homeschooled for about 14 years and I don’t recall ever having a subject that had anything to do with homosexuality. Any discussion on that topic definitely took place during “family” time. It sounds though from the wording above that they are wanting to legislate the curricula that families and schools are required to use. We did raise a lamb that was a hermaphrodite, which was an interesting experience, but again, any discussion of what it all meant took place outside of our “classroom” time. One of the reasons we began homeschooling was because of a required cross-dressing day in the public grade school our daughter was attending. And now that our son is finishing school in a private school, the topic is in the forefront. This is most definitely a time for sighing and crying.

  5. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts! I think part of the challenge, Teresa, is that such things should be allowed to be a part of our instruction at the parent’s discretion and the state should not have censorship powers over what a parent chooses to teach her own children in any setting. For instance, in their history class Jeanine was teaching the kids yesterday about the fall of Babylon and the role that Babylon’s immorality played. Laws such as this have the potential to say that she cannot teach such things or that such discussion must be removed to “family life” time and made distinct from the educational setting — which is not only difficult to properly distinguish for many, and even worse, represents the state coming into your home and legislating the manner, timing, and content of your own discussions with your own children. Such things should be sacrosanct, and it is abominable that the state should take upon itself the authority to do such. If we are discussing, for instance, in Social Studies the recent decision by the President and Congress to allow homosexuals serve openly in the military and we want to teach our children that this is a further symptom of our nations eroded moral character, the state has no business coming into my home telling me that I cannot do this. If I want my child to write an essay on that or to research the role that the mainstreaming of effeminacy in males had in the degradation and fall of nations, the state should not be able to tell me I can’t. Alberta is claiming that they can and will.

    Thought through, the implications of laws like this are truly chilling. For families, for instance, who would like to use Church materials (the Bible Study Course, booklets, Tomorrow’s World magazine) as a part or a supplement to their curriculum, laws like this have real potential to allow the government to say, “You will not do that.” It’s a significant conceptual step, and a frightening one.

    (And I remember your telling us way back when about that horrible day at your kiddos’ school. Absolutely atrocious! Some don’t think things like that happen at schools, and we can be thankful that they do not happen everywhere. But as you know all too well, they do happen at some.)

    Thanks, again, for writing!

  6. Teresa

    HSLDA also has an agenda though. There are not quotation marks around “The legislative proposal known as Bill 2 in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta would explicitly require that all instructional materials…..” which is what makes it sound as if not only would a parent or teacher be limited in what they could discuss or assign in class, but that also one would be required to use state-sanctioned curricula for teaching. For example, early readers that include stories about “alternative life-style” families, math books with story problems about Jill and her moms going to the store to get 5 oranges….. I’m not saying that I don’t think these things are happening, because I think fairly recently I heard of something similar being tossed around here in the States, but just asking whether this a slant that HSLDA is putting on this. Also saying that the legislation, if it is what HSLDA is presenting, is getting into turning private schools and homeschools into state run schools.
    We were blessed to live in two states with very little homeschool legislation and then NC which doesn’t have the time or money to enforce its legislation, but some states really make homeschoolers jump through hoops. We investigated Pennsylvania’s laws when we thought we were moving there, and not only would we have had to provide massive amounts of documentation on what we taught, children’s progress, etc that were certified by a state-certified teacher, and then sent to the school district, but we also would have had to have provided dental and eye exams according to the state’s schedule.

  7. Thanks, again, Teresa. No doubt HSLDA has an agenda, and they’re pretty explicit about it, which I appreciate. As for the “unquoted” phrasing, I see that as consistent with the quoted portion and with the words from the Minister and his assistant and take it to mean not that they will require certain materials to be used but that they will actively limit and prohibit the use of materials. (A tiger of a different stripe, but a still a tiger. 🙂 )

    And, yes, Pennsylvania — one of the most draconian states in the nation when it comes to homeschooling laws, I understand. Our exposure to such laws has been progressive: from Texas, which is wonderfully homeschooling-friendly and parent-empowering, to Missouri, which was a bit more controlling, to Ohio, which requires us to provide annual notice, submit curriculum (for information not for approval), and perform and submit an annual assessment of progress (which we do with standardized testing) with an required level of success. Still, it has not been onerous, and we are appreciative. Right across the border in Pennsylvania, though, is another matter — odd for a state whose motto is “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence” and whose origins are so intimately associated with the principle of freedom of religion and personal conviction. Go figure.

  8. Steven

    I find this story very ironic since the province of Alberta has always been known to be VERY conservative (based on their voting history). Nonetheless, Canada’s “liberal” influenced media/social values continue to penetrate deeper and deeper into once previously thought safe realms. Sad but true. At least Stephen Harper (Prime Minister) is a Godly man.

  9. Randy

    I think you folks are seriously over-reacting – as usual. These kinds of laws are always being considered and pushed by liberal lawmakers and academia, make a big splash among conservatives for awhile as they see yet another reason to believe “the sky is falling! – the sky is falling!” And yet most of the time nothing is ever heard from such proposals again as they quietly recede into the dustbin of proposed legislation.

    The traditional family is here to stay – that doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not under serious threat by certain quarters, but simply that observation and experience show that nothing will ever replace it in terms of it’s utility in producing solid, stable citizens. Just observe communities – the American inner city ghettos, for instance – where the family has become all but extinct, where illegitimacy rates are now running about 75%, and see the horrendous results. The Russians under the fanatical Marxists tried to eliminate the family, and gave up because it’s as natural to human beings as breathing – and just as successful.

    If you all want something to stoke your prediction-addictions, there are many other events happening in the world far more meaningful than this.

    Or better yet read this wonderful book to strengthen your own families:

    http://www.amazon.com/Traits-Healthy-Family-Epiphany-Dolores/dp/0345317505/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330538387&sr=1-1

  10. Well, that was a tad ungracious, Mr. Martens, but, still, thank you for comment. As for prophecy, I don’t think the ultimate threat is from secularization, as you might be aware. However, measures like this do provide a reminder of the “anti-family” attitudes and beliefs held by many in positions of authority (though, as you’d agree, not by all, to be sure).

    However, your observation about the “traditional family” is too simplistic. The “traditional family” has been in transition for decades (indeed, I suppose, over the last couple of centuries) to the point that two individuals talking about the “traditional family” can be talking about two different things, entirely. The family is more than its structure (though it’s certainly not less). And as for the “solid, stable citizens” that are being cranked out by families today, I would suspect that we could reasonably differ in our opinions about the quality of those citizens.

    As for laws like this simply evaporating in the heat of society’s inherent need for traditional families, hopefully this one will, indeed land in the dustbin, but too many don’t. And Canada’s incrementally increasing hostility to free religious expression (you can’t say it isn’t real; we have to be mindful of it in our broadcasts, and it is a practical reality I live and work with) doesn’t give one hope that the dustbin will always be the ultimate destination.

    Thanks, again, Mr. Martin, and should you comment on the blog again, I hope you will be a bit more polite. And thanks for the book suggestion! I might check it out. As for my own recommendation, I suggest this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Margin-Reference-French-Morocco-NK743XRM/dp/0521706246

  11. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Randy: “Overreaching as usual?” At the risk of being impolite myself, tell that to the pebble that starts the avalanche. Or to what these two Despair.com Demotivational Posters illustrate:

    http://despair.com/teamwork.html

    http://despair.com/ir.html

    ENTPs and ENFPs like you and me, respectively, can get locked into negative visions of developing futures that aren’t actually happening. Beware of that tendency, please. Mr. Smith, a fellow ENTP from all evidence, obviously has taken considerable pains not to fall into that trap and I respect him for that – and I try to follow his example. Human foresight isn’t infallible; at best it’s reliable but vague. God’s Word alone is sure as a trainer of prophetic foresight and Mr. Smith consistently says that from his own perspective.

  12. Randy

    Well, if you consider a plain articulation of basic indisputable facts to be impolite and “ungracious” then perhaps you’re approach is more of a threat to expression – religious or otherwise – than that which is happening up in Canada.

    However, we agree on far more than we would differ on – so why not make that are focus and proceed from there? For instance, we obviously see that there are indeed great threats to the standard traditional definition of family in the vast majority of the Western world – one man, one women committed to each other in matrimony and providing to the best of their ability a loving, stable environment in which to raise their children – extended or nuclear. Virtually ALL people I’ve ever discussed the issue with clearly understand such a definition. Many wannabe social engineers in academia, and in Washington, would change these clearly understood definitions, but as I mentioned, history informs us that those who would pursue such a policy are terribly ignorant of experiments of just this sort that have already been undertaken in both ancient and modern times, and proven disastrous, not once but many times.

    And just to clarify: I didn’t state nor imply that today’s dysfunctional families (to varying degrees) are turning out solid, stable citizens. In fact, only strong families are doing so, while the vast majority of others are churning out a largely amoral, unthinking, weak citizenry to one degree or another very nearly incapable of critical thought and clear reasoning. This, of course, is just what many politicians prefer, as such a populace will be far easier to manipulate and harness toward their ends out in the future.

    I think there’s a difference between being what we now refer to as “politically-correct” – and being wisely sensitive to a large, multi-ethnic audience when broadcasting/telecasting a religious message using mass media. Accurately UNDERSTANDING another perspective, as much as we may oppose it, is not the same as AGREEING with it. I’ve found that MANY folks fail to draw this crucial distinction. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve argued that we must understanding an opposing point-of-view before showing why it is unworkable or unsustainable – only to be verbally attacked by one version or another of “Oh, so you AGREE with such and such a view!” I think that’s what a lot of these misguided proposals are intended to address, granted, in a very short-sighted way – to tone down the fanatical rhetoric of ALL sides, be it hardcore conservative religious fundamentalists or the radical anti-marriage and anti-family crowd.

    Anyway, I can’t quite understanding how I was ungracious in my initial comments, but my humble apologies to one or all if I unnecessarily upset anyone.

  13. Howdy, again, Randy. I won’t quibble on the details of your comment, most of which we agree on. I just wanted to explain the “ungracious” remark, which was in reference to your “as usual” and “prediction-addiction” remarks. They just seemed a little less civil and less gracious than your previous comments. I’m used to that sort of thing from other commenters where I just let it go, but had not experienced it from you and probably overreacted. It was not meant as a comment on your opinions, themselves, which, as I said, we generally (though only generally) agree about.

    Thanks, again.

  14. Randy

    I could have expressed myself with greater clarity, and should have – so my mistake there. When I was at AC I had the chance to listen to HWA on many occasions, and always appreciated his blunt, plain-spoken approach, which I found refreshing. We live in a society nowadays that so often “beats around the bush” and hardly ever says anything in an unambiguous way – and I suppose in my attempts to avoid this I often push into the other ditch.

    In any event, it’ll be interesting to watch the eventual course the proposed legislation takes – and we all hope that it will “crash and burn”, buying more time for our culture. We’ll see what happens. I know such legislation is often pushed out there to “test the waters” in terms of the cultural climate.

  15. Ha! No worries, Mr. Martens. And, by the way, I wasn’t offended; in this line of work you have to have skin a lot thicker than that! 🙂 Again, it wasn’t the bluntness or plain-spokenness, which is appreciated, but rather the hint of snark or “put down.”

    I’ve been guilty of being a little (or a lot) cheeky & snarky here and there, as well, and I’ve been called on it, in fact, here in these comments and had to fess up. (Example, here for one example.) I do think there is a time to be a bit “in your face” about things (I call Elijah to the stand, your honor), but I don’t want to go there too quickly when there is still room for civility in disagreement. And, again, I wasn’t offended; just caught off guard and I likely overreacted. And I, too, was greatly impacted by Mr. Armstrong’s plain spoken style and have tried to emulate it — hard to do for someone like me who tends to be way too verbose.

    Thank for following up, and, again, no worries!

  16. This topic got me to thinking on home schooling in Ireland and if what is happening in Alberta could happen here. Although I hadn’t so far heard of any controversy in relation to parents teaching their children at home I decided to have a quick look at the status of home schooling in the Irish Constitution.

    The following is what is outlined in Article 42 of the Constitution of the Irsh Republic:

    1. ” The State acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the Family and guarantees to respect the inalienable right and duty of the parentsto provide, according to their means, for the religious and moral, intellectual, physical and social education of their children “.

    2. ” Parents shall be free to provide this education in their homes . . . . ”

    3.1 ” The State shall not oblige parents in violation of their conscience and lawful preference to send their children to schools established by the State, or in any type of school designated by the State “.

    3.2 ” The State shall however, as guardian of the common good, require in view of actual conditions that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social. ”

    The rights of the parents are protected under the Constitution, but obviously the norms in relation to the overall objectives of the State where sitting examinations apply. It appears that the parents are free to teach their children what is in the Bible and clearly that would include telling them that the practice of homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to God.

    However the words in section 3.2 of Article 42 of the Constitution may provide a loophole for the State to intervene in what parents teach their children concerning morality. The section reads: ” The State however, as guardian of the common good, require . . . . children receive a certain minimum education, MORAL, intellectual and SOCIAL.

    As the Labour Party is part of the current government in Ireland it is quite probable that the left-wing agenda of
    that political party, in line with its European counterparts, will try to subvert the constitutional rights of parents by stealth. It is certainly Labour Party policy to extend the current legislation on same-sex Civil Unions to making
    same-sex marriage lawful and it doesn’t take any great stretch of the imagination to see them imposing the current liberal agenda in order to prohibit parents teaching children what God says about homosexuality.

    Nonetheless there is an obstacle in the way of liberalism in that the rights of parents in teaching their children moral values according to their conscience is enshrined in the constitution and no article of the constituion may be changed or removed without a national referendum and that it requires a majority of those casting votes to effect any change in the constitution. The downside to that is that the slimmest majority is sufficient and as opinion polls show that a majority of the electorate favour same-sex marriage being legalized there is a strong possibility that such a proposal will be supported by the majority and the constitutional recognition of marriage as a binding contract between a man and a woman will therefore be overthrown.

    Other factors which may come to bear on these questions is the power of the European Union and the Court of Human Rights. The liberal lobby in Ireland and within Europe will probably go into overdrive to impose their destructive ideas on Ireland. It won’t surprise me to see these type of campaigns being launched in the very near future and with the help of a compliant electronic and print media liberalism wins the day.

  17. Wow, what a clear statement in the constitution! Various ones in the U.S. are pressing for a Parental Rights amendment to our constitution, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

  18. Norbert

    Humanly speaking, governments have an impossible task to keep the peace between interest groups. They step on many toes, not only Christian ones. Like individuals, we all fall short (Rm 3:10) Everybody has their objectives, beit homeschooling or otherwise.

    How should anyone comment and even moreso have a relationship with their government’s policies on homeschooling? Concidering what Daniel said to his king, “Then said Daniel to the king, O king, live for ever. ” (Dan 6:21)?

    Daniel has an interesting relationship with his earthly sovereign and other government officials. He and his fellow brethren being much less than Jesus escaped the lion’s mouth and the fire that was meant to consume them.

  19. [My apology for the delay in moderation; the last few days have been terribly busy!]

    Thanks for your observation, Norbert, and I agree, and their example should also be ours. Of course, that example included respectfully but firmly telling the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Obedience does not require disrespecting those in office, just as respecting those in office does not require disobeying God.

    In their escaping of the Lion’s mouth and the fiery furnace, both elements came into play, and their example would have been incomplete with either missing.

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