An argument can be made that non-denominational schools violate the rights of those of particular religious faiths who want to practice their religion in such locations, if they impose a ban on those rights.
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is seeking to have the Supreme Court of Canada hear the case of two Muslims who wanted to practice their faith in a school, but who were denied this right.
As per a story in the National Post on October 30:
“Sarmad Amir and Naman Siddiqui, who were in Grade 9 and 10 at Webber Academy in 2011, told the human rights commission that praying is mandatory in their Sunni religion. They said the school told them their praying, which requires bowing and kneeling, was too obvious and went against the academy’s non-denominational nature.”
The story also says, the human rights tribunal ruled the school’s policy was too rigid and it could have accommodated the students without violating its secular status. That decision was upheld by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. The school then took the matter to the Alberta Court of Appeal.
But that court overturned the commission’s original decision ordering the school to pay a $26,000 fine for discriminatory behaviour and said another hearing was required because Webber Academy raised new issues under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Check nationalpost.com for more.
The issue here is that Canadian society consists of many religious belief systems and reasonable accommodation has to be provided for all who embrace a particular faith. Non-denominational schools, by their very nature, impose secular humanism, allowing them to discriminate against those who embrace a particular faith, as in the case of Sarmad Amir and Naman Siddiqui.
If Canada is supposed to be a nation of inclusiveness, then this MUST entail reasonable accommodation for all who embrace a religious faith, in the school system of their choice.
As such, Webber Academy and all other non-denominational schools should be condemned and made to provide reasonable accommodation.
Employers have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation for their employees’ religious faiths, so why should it be any different for school systems? Or are we going to fall into the old trap – and excuse – and make the pronouncement that some are more equal than others?
I would go further and say that public schools should allow the return of bible reading over the PA system and the Lord’s Prayer each morning before class begins. This was part of my daily routine at elementary school and I think children and their parents should be allowed this option.
This, too, should be taken up as a human rights complaint and a court challenge would be in order, if the secular humanist forces try to deny this right. They should be compelled to provide reasonable accommodation for students and their families. So, I hope Sarmad Amir and Naman Siddiqui receive a favourable ruling and that the forces of secular humanism are made to provide reasonable accommodation to those who embrace a religious faith.