Assimilation in the Name of Pluralism: Education, Law and Religion in Ontario, Canada
AbstractDraw a Venn diagram with three circles, one called law, one called religion and one called education. This chapter explores the overlap among these. The frrst half involves two clusters of questions. First, it asks what the questions, in fact, are, dealing first with issues concerning religion in publicly-funded schools. A second cluster of questions concerns those flashpoint issues of curriculum identified by religious parents and the independent religious schools some of them choose for their children. Throughout the chapter, I make reference to recent court cases involving religion and education in the Canadian province of Ontario, usually following those references with remarks about responses to the cases and the policies that followed them. In a second major section called "Helpful Perspectives," I offer observations from several points of view as means to illumine further the conflicts that sparked the various legal actions. Here I survey historical arguments: legal, constitutional, philosophical (including rights and natural justice), and utilitarian social points of view. I also examine several remarks related to the key concepts involved in these debates, and the viewpoints of religious persons. The chapter ends by exploring briefly three pedagogical possibilities for treating religion in school classrooms.