Legal advocates for a Christian school southeast of Edmonton says the Battle River School Division (BRSD) wants to censor what parts of the Bible the Cornerstone Christian Academy can teach to students.
Trustees of the school division, based in Camrose, say the board will spend part of a meeting this Thursday discussing Bible verses that the school proposed including in a handbook for students and parents. The BRSD’s Diane Hutchinson said trustees think the verses might contravene Alberta’s human rights legislation.
“As a school system, we have an obligation: we need to follow the School Act and human rights legislation, ” Hutchinson said on Tuesday. “As a public school division, we have that obligation and it is our obligation to ensure that our schools are also compliant.”
Cornerstone Christian Academy Society board chair Deanna Margel said the handbook reference is a scriptural footnote in an updated Statement of Faith.
One reference is to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
The second reference is from Galations 5: 19-24:
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Margel said discussion between the academy and the board has been going on for six weeks. She says although the academy has agreed to drop the controversial verses from the handbook, the school fears the division now wants to limit what Bible verses the school can teach.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), an organization that says its mission is to protect free speech, is helping the school in the matter.
The organization’s president, John Carpay, said the school refuses to have the division dictate which parts of the Bible are acceptable.
Carpay said the JCCF believes any directive would fly against provincial diversity guidelines.
“When the board starts to try to dictate that scriptures that some people might find offensive cannot be taught in the classroom, that’s going completely contrary to the goal of diversity which is to have schools that are actually different from each other.”
Hutchinson said it is possible Thursday’s discussion might be put on hold, or that the board might suggest that the partnership between the Battle River School Division and Cornerstone Christian Academy be dissolved.
The Cornerstone Christian Academy, formerly a private school, joined the school division in 2009.