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Jews in Ontario Seek Removal of Religious Courses from Public Schools

Spokesmen for three Jewish communities in western Ontario submitted briefs to a government committee on religious education urging removal of religious courses from public schools in Ontario. Christian spokesmen asked for retention of the courses, and some asked for their expansion. The three Jewish communities were those of London, Chatham and Windsor.

In asking for removal of the religion course, first introduced in 1944, the three Jewish leaders cited a statement by a clergyman teaching the course in a Chatham public school who stated: “Anyone not believing in Christianity is a heathen.” The presentation of the London Jewish Community proposed a form of teaching comparative religion in the senior public school grades if proper training and specialization could be arranged in teacher-training schools.

The brief of the Windsor Jewish Community Council also urged present courses be dropped and suggested a number of alternative plans. A spokesman for the Universalist church in Leamington, Ontario, said sectarianism “pervaded” the entire kindergarten class. The spokesman said exemptions from such teaching could not be obtained because the teaching and the religion were “interwoven.”

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