RNS News Briefs
Parents seek veto on sexuality teaching in Ontario schools
By RON CSILLAG
TORONTO (RNS) — A group of conservative Christian and Muslim parents in Ontario want schools to notify them before their children are taught about sexuality, birth control, “environmental worship” and occult practices.
Titled Choosing to Remain in the Public System, the downloadable form asks that parents be advised prior to their children’s exposure to sex education and discussions about homosexuality, transgender issues and abortion; “environmental worship — placing environmental issues/concerns above the value of Judaeo-Christian principles and human life”; and teachings about occult practices, including witchcraft, Satanism and “wizardry.”
The parents say they want advance notice so they can either withdraw their children before the lesson, or prepare them in advance.
The letter is spearheaded by PEACE (Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity) Hamilton, a Christian parents group. Phil Lees, who heads PEACE, says “hundreds” of the letters have been delivered to schools in Toronto and Hamilton.
“We’ve met with a half dozen Muslim groups and they are very passionate about this too,” Lees said.
Meanwhile, a Greek Orthodox father has sued the Hamilton school board for refusing to warn him when his children’s teachers plan to talk about family, marriage or human sexuality.
Steve Tourloukis told reporters on Sept. 10 that he only wants those issues taught to his first-grade daughter and fourth-grade son “from a Christian perspective.”
Tourloukis is backed by the newly formed Parental Rights in Education defence Fund, which is collecting money for parents who sue school boards over their “unconstitutional suppression of religious freedom and conscience rights.”
“If parents do not beat back this government incursion against parent rights,” the group’s website says, “it will usher in an era of persecution against people of faith like never seen before in Canada.”
School officials say parents can request their child be excused only from certain portions of sex education.
By ALESSANDRO SPECIALE
The Vatican on Sept. 13 issued the “firmest possible condemnation” for the mob attacks that led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya, one day after seeming to blame people who intentionally provoked Muslims.
His words struck a different tone from the Vatican’s initial reaction on Wednesday, when Lombardi warned against the “tragic results” of “unjustified offence and provocations” against Muslim sensitivities.
“Along with our sadness, mourning and prayers for the victims, we again express the hope that, despite this latest tragedy, the international community may discover the most favourable ways to continue its commitment in favour of peace in Libya and the entire Middle East,” Lombardi said on Thursday.
Lombardi’s first statement on the attacks had been criticized as “outrageous” by conservative Catholic commentator Phil Lawler. “The first order of business, for civilized people, is a clear, unequivocal, and absolute condemnation of the killings,” he wrote on the Catholic Culture website.
Muslim protests across the Middle East, allegedly sparked by an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S., threatened to overshadow Pope Benedict XVI’s delicate visit to Lebanon last weekend.
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, stressed that Benedict is coming as a “messenger of peace.” The region’s “growing tensions,” he added, have “strengthened” his desire to travel there to “promote peace and express solidarity.”
Report says religion at heart of illegal ivory trade
"No matter where I find ivory, religion is close at hand," said investigative reporter Bryan Christy, whose article, "Ivory Worship," is included in the new edition of National Geographic magazine, released Sept. 14.
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