Opposition Voiced Against Religious Instruction in Ontario Schools

A ten-point “indictment” of the practice of religious instruction in the public schools in the province of Ontario-which has been in effect 14 years–was voiced here by Rabbi Abraham L. Feinberg. He emphasized that the practice “imperils the sacred freedom of the Church, by shifting to the State the central function of the Church.”

Declaring that religious instruction in the public schools “endangers the health of our democratic system by enabling a majority to propagate a manufactured brand of religion through sheer force of numbers.” Rabbi Feinberg said that such practice contradicts “what Christianity upholds as the true spirit of humility by tempting dominant Protestantism to reach into public schools against the interests and wishes of weaker denominations who are taxed to support them.”

“The practice also violates basic laws of child psychology by compelling children to choose between participating in religious exercises that offend and shame the spiritual training given them by their own parents, church and synagogue, or accepting the uncomfortable role of being ‘different,’” Rabbi Feinberg stressed.

The Canadian rabbi also listed the following objections to teaching religion in public schools: It imperils development of unified Canadians; it impedes the effort to foster mutual respect and goodwill among religions; it wastes time in schools by duplicating efforts which are the prime responsibility of Church and home; it imposes “a confusing emotional and moral burden” on teachers; it ultimately “reduces the prestige of religion in the children’s mind by converting the quest of God into a classroom chore instead of exalting it as a life of spiritual adventure.”

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