Canada’s laws grant freedom of religion—allowing people to follow the beliefs of their own brand of religion. In Alberta, however, the most popular concept is freedom not of religion but freedom from religion.
Irreligion is not a word that is used much, but the concept is growing rapidly in Alberta. An irreligious person is one who is indifferent and even hostile to religion, especially to those people who believe that God not only exists, but that He wants a relationship with human beings.
An Example from Edmonton
For many decades, the Edmonton city council followed the tradition of a time of prayer before council sessions, in the spirit of James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” They used to invite leaders of different faiths to open the session.
Edmonton, a growing city, faces many huge challenges: adequate low-income housing, public transport and economic development, all complicated by the low price of oil, and federal and provincial governments that keep raising taxes. If ever council members needed wisdom from God, it is now.
This week, however, council voted to scrap the traditional opening prayer, not even opting to hold a time of silent reflection.
The council jumped at the opportunity to get rid of the opening prayer by misapplying last year’s Supreme Court decision against a Quebec town that opened its council meeting with a strictly Roman Catholic prayer.
In Alberta, it appears that irreligion is the accepted creed of those in government leadership.
Meanwhile, Back in the Classrooms
There is still an undercurrent of anti-Christian sentiment about independent Christian schools. Using the pretext of preventing bullying of minorities in all schools, the Minister of Education has been advocating guidelines which are attempts to do away with Christian sexual morality. His demands are based solidly on the sexual revolution started by Kinsey’s flawed studies of human sexuality.
This week the Minister shut down a Christian school in Cold Lake, AB, which administrated 3,500 home schooled students through the Wisdom Home Schooling Society which has been operating since 1997 when it was established in accordance with a mandate from the then Minister of Education.
Overlooked by the current Minister of Education is the fact that independent Christian schools perform better academically than public schools. For instance, this week, the Minister reported that the provincial achievement test (PAT) results showed that last year only 72.2% of Grade 6 students across the province met the acceptable standard for math. This compares with 94% of Grade 6 students in a local independent Christian school who met acceptable standards in math.
The Minister reported that the government is working with post-secondary institutions to improve training for new teachers. Yet Trinity Western University, which successfully trains many teachers for these high achieving independent Christian schools, is constantly under attack by various levels of government for its high moral standards.
Two Questions and Two Answers
Why is it that independent Christian schools achieve such high results? It is not because their teachers are paid high salaries. They consistently are paid less than public school teachers. What’s more, Christian school teachers do not have access to the two-billion-dollar pension fund for public school teachers. Teachers in independent Christian schools see their work as a calling from God, they seek to please Him, they pray for the students in their classrooms and their motivation is service, first to God and then to the students and their families.
Why is the percentage of irreligious people rising every year in Alberta—a province that seems to be entering a post-Christian era?
British writer, theologian, and philosopher G.K. Chesterton answered it well a century ago, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult, and left untried.”