Site Map Header

Ottawa Citizen Atricles Tab

Ottawa Citizen Logo

September 12, 2013

Question:  Is there a place for religion in public schools?

We are clearing witnessing a dual phenomenon when it comes to the role of religion in modern society. The New Age movement and the persistent interest in the religions of South Asia (Buddhism and Hinduism) are evidence of a renewed curiosity about religion and spirituality. But hard core secularists, in black-and-white fashion, would like to banish religion from the public and private sphere because they view it as a pernicious evil.

To answer today’s question, let’s try to understand what we would mean by “religion” in the public schools. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son of Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and the appointed interpreter of his father’s teachings, gave a devastating indictment of the negative side of “religion”: “But when we speak of religion we mean the essential foundation or reality of religion, not the dogmas and blind imitations which have gradually encrusted it and which are the cause of the decline and effacement of a nation. These are inevitably destructive and a menace and hindrance to a nation's life…” 

The essential reality of religion to which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá refers has more to do  with perennial wisdom and core spiritual and ethical values as they are lived in daily life than it does with the particular protective dogmas and doctrines of religion. Although man-made theologies can be divisive, on questions of “living the life”, the great world religions do not really contradict one another. 

Bahá’u’lláh  was explicit on this question: “Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion…but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.”

Canada has become a pluralistic, multi-cultural society. It would certainly assist the integration and cohesion of Canadian society for students of all ages to learn about the faith of other men and women. For those who are anti-religious, values education courses should be offered.  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen September 12, 2013
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Home     Contact   Site Map    Web Support

© The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa, Canada