Happy Catholic Education Week everyone!
Yep. There was even a province-wide mass, where Ontario’s government-funded Catholic schools celebrated the event. Though apparently a lot less students were in attendance than usual, since the Supreme Court recently determined that parents could allow their children to opt-out of religious classes and ceremonies at their government-funded religious institutions.
So – the government funds schools with a religious (and anti-gay, anti-choice) agenda, but also allows students to not take part in the religious aspects of the school. This leaves the purpose of funding those schools… where?
In case you’re not familiar with Ontario’s school system: we have our regular public school system. Then, we also have the government-funded Catholic school system. The reason for this, as simply as possible, is that way back during Confederation the public schools were largely Protestant based. If enough families got together, they could allot their particular taxes toward funding a Catholic school for their own children.
Obviously, the once-Protestant schools have since become regular, secular, public schools, banning daily prayers and such. Their government-funded (taxpayer funded) Catholic counterparts, however, have stuck around and remained religious institutions.
So, already this is a bit odd. Though it’s not an issue that the provincial political parties seem to want to go near. The NDP are “neutral” on whether we should fund the Catholic schools or not, and the Liberals and Conservatives are in no way in favour of ditching our government-funded religious institutions. Even Premier Wynne, our country’s first openly gay Premier, doesn’t want our government-funded religious schools to go anywhere, wanting only to “strengthen the system that exists.”
Then, yesterday, a bunch of these government-funded Catholic schools paid for and sent large groups of their students to the annual “March for Life” anti-abortion (anti-choice) rally in Ottawa.
It’s like they KNEW about my weakness for puns and tried to exploit it.
At this point, I’d like to just point out that if I had to align myself with any kind of church, I’d likely be going back to my roots and saying Catholicism is for me. It’s not that I agree with (m)any of their moral stances, because I very much do not. I really just like the concept of old buildings and weekly quiet time in a pretty, stained-glass environment. I’m a hypocrite like that. So, I have nothing against Catholic people. This is not a decry saying that Catholics or religion are bad things. Go to church on Sundays. Go on Saturday nights if you want! It’s all fair game. I will be staying in bed, but To. Each. Their. Own.
What I do have a problem with, though, is when the province, the government to whom I pay my taxes, continues to fund these religious institutions. And, when in turn, these religious institutions use that money to send their young students to anti-abortion rallies. When the government is paying to fund protests against its own citizens’ guaranteed rights, that just doesn’t make sense to me.
Photo: Chronicle Herald
It didn’t sit well with the members of FEMEN either, who showed up and protested the anti-abortion rally in Ottawa yesterday. Their spokeswoman, Laurence Bergeron-Michaud told reporters that the reason they were protesting was that they didn’t want the “religious right setting policy in Canada” – and I couldn’t agree more. Our government has no business deciding what women can and can not do with their bodies, and shouldn’t be funding religious institutions that say otherwise.
There’s a reason our political leaders aren’t taking a stance on this issue – or if they are, that they’re aligning themselves with the government-funded Catholic schools. The reason is power, the reason is money, and the reason is politics.
The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful institutions in the world. I mean hell, my iPhone just autocorrected that from “catholic church” to Catholic Church. While at one time these schools were created to help and protect a religious minority, that is simply no longer the case. By continuing to operate these schools with little to no regulation on the way they spend that government-funded money, they are allowing a powerful, religious force to help determine our government’s decisions on what women can do with their own bodies. In order to protect the oppressed citizens of 2014 instead of 1867, action needs to be taken. Whether that is discontinuing Ontario’s Catholic school system, or heavily regulating the ways these government-funded religious institutions can and can not spend taxpayer money, something needs to be done.
We need to show them that this is an issue that matters in this election. We need to show them that by continuing to fund Ontario’s Catholic schools, they are telling us that they do not support women’s rights, nor the right of a woman to choose what to do with her own body. We need to show Ontario’s politicians, with their names on the ballot June 12th, that we can’t stand for their continued inaction. That we won’t let them continue to support institutions that want to take away our fundamental, Supreme Court guaranteed rights to do what we choose with our own bodies.
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