The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Catholic parents in Quebec cannot pull their kids out of a mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture program, reported Canadian newspaper the National Post.
The Court rendered its decision in the controversial case on Friday, with some observers arguing that it is a matter of religious freedom versus an attempt to increase tolerance by the province. According to the National Post, the case pit a group of Catholic parents against the school board and the province.
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According to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, Madam Justice Marie Deschamps wrote that the program is far from shoving religious views down the throats of children, and that it opens them to a wide variety of viewpoints and beliefs.
Canada.com reported that the Court ruled allowing children to opt out of the program would be "a rejection of the multicultural reality of Canadian society and ignores the Quebec government's obligations with regard to public education." The site also reported that Quebec's Ethics and Religious Culture program became mandatory for schools in May 2008. During the program, students learn about Catholic and Protestant Christian traditions in Quebec culture, as well as Judaism, aboriginal spirituality and other religious traditions.