Secular Ontario: “Religion Classes Are Optional”

by | January 21, 2015

Update: Secular Ontario has announced the time and location of its protest:

St. Patrick’s High School
2525 Alta Vista Drive
Ottawa, ON K1V 7T3
2:40 pm on Friday 23rd


Metro News Ottawa announced,

Members of a secular humanist group say they will be handing out “get out of jail” coupons to Catholic high school students advising them they have the right to opt out of religion classes.

Coupon JPEG

The colourful coupons are bilingual and display a spoof Monopoly “Get out of Jail Free” card with the word jail crossed out and the words “forced Catholicism” written on top.

Secular Ontario plans to release the name and the location of the “selected” Ottawa  publicly-funded Catholic secondary school on Thursday, January 23, 2015. On Friday, January 23,

supporters “will be on public property in front of  [the] selected publicly-funded Catholic secondary school [in Ottawa] to distribute coupons to students,” when classes finish in the afternoon.

A statement from a member of the Ottawa Catholic School Board reads,

“We treat all requests for exemption for Religious Education courses in High School on a case-by-case basis.”

Really, on a case-by-case basis? That’s not what Section 42 (13) of the Ontario Education Act says:

no person who is qualified to be a resident pupil in respect of a secondary school operated by a public board who attends a secondary school operated by a Roman Catholic board shall be required to take part in any program or course of study in religious education on written application to the Board of,

(a) the parent or guardian of the person;

(b) in the case of a person who is 16 or 17 years old who has withdrawn from parental control, the person himself or herself;

(c) in the case of a person who is 18 years old or older, the person himself or herself.

Religion classes are optional! The coupons are designed to let students and parents know that the “mandatory” religion courses in Catholic high schools are not mandatory.

Enough already, it’s time for the Ontario Catholic school boards to pay attention and start obeying the law!

10 thoughts on “Secular Ontario: “Religion Classes Are Optional”

  1. PatG

    I suspect “handled on case by case basis” means having a long serious chat with the parent or guardian to ensure that require written application never gets written on pain of eternal damnation.

    1. Terri D F

      I’m sure you’re right, PatG. I think this is great as I doubt that students and even parents are aware of this.

  2. Robert P. French

    The law should be changed. Kids should be allowed to drop out of religion classes without parent approval when they have reached the ‘age of reason’ as defined by the Catholic Church (i.e. “On completion of the seventh year” – 7 years old)

  3. Malcolm Buchanan

    Pressure must be mounted on the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education to ‘force’ RC Separate School Boards to conform to the law. Secondary school open-access students have the right to have an excemption from attending religious classes and not to participate in religious programs and activities. This right is also extended to students whose parents are separate school supporters.

    To deal with declining student enrolment a number of RC Separate School Boards are now poaching non-Catholic elementary students who should be attending public schools. The Education Act does not permit non-Catholic elementary students to be exempt from religious classes and programs. In reality these students are forced to participate in religious classes-religious indoctrination at public expense is alive and well in Ontario. This must be exposed and stopped.

  4. jw

    Why are they at that school if they don’t want to study religion? Why don’t they just change school boards?

    1. Veronica Abbass Post author

      “Why are they at that school if they don’t want to study religion?”

      All high school students are entitled to attend the school of their choice. They chose a school close to their home, so they don’t have to endure a long bus ride.

      These are publicly-funded Catholic schools, not private Catholic schools.

  5. jw

    Don’t the taxes also increase for the parents of the children at these schools?

    1. Indi

      No. The Catholic public school system is paid for by all Ontarians – including non-Catholcis – exactly the same as the secular public school system.

  6. Deus Ex Machina

    Quebec has no Catholic school board whatsoever. Why can’t other provinces follow this progressive example?


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