Thursday, May 3, 2018

Rural school board in Alberta votes to shut down Christian school in dispute over politically-incorrect Bible verses

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9


Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:

Guarantee of Rights and Freedoms

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Fundamental Freedoms

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.

This blogger predicted more than 35 years ago that if the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became part of the Canadian constitution, the only people ending up with rights would be perverts, criminals, deadbeats, and malcontents. I accept Bible prophecy as true, which includes prophecies concerning the end times leading up to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord and His apostles predicted that the world would get worse and not better before His return. It therefore comes as no surprise to this blogger to read the following, as reported by Brenton Driedger of Edmonton radio station CHQT, May 1, 2018 (updated May 2, 2018):

A Christian school southeast of Edmonton is one legal “Hail Mary” away from being forced to shut down.

The Battle River School Division voted last Thursday to close Cornerstone Christian Academy after the school year. The relationship started to fray about a year ago when the board asked the school to stop teaching certain Bible verses that discussed sexuality because they considered them offensive. Board chair Kendall Severson said that was eventually dealt with, but the bigger issue was a lack of cooperation.

“I guess it was the unwillingness to work together for a communications protocol on how we communicate with each other and dealing with issues that arise,” Severson said, pointing to an ongoing legal challenge brought against them from the school society. “We can’t work together with an organization that’s got legal action against us, and not willing to come together and work on an agreement.”

The school wants the courts to stop the closure, arguing the board’s attempts at censoring biblical references in the curriculum are illegal. The case is scheduled to be heard May 17.

“I think there is a great misunderstanding of what faith means in today’s culture,” school society chair Deanna Margel said. “I think that what is happening at the school is a good opportunity for people to discuss their different ideas and talk about how we deal with those things.”

“Anybody familiar with the Christian Bible will recognize that there are many, many, many passages of Scripture that are offensive to even those of us who follow Christ.”

Parents are already considering their options if the legal fight fails. Gabe Vorhees sends his four children to Cornerstone, and he said his family was happy with the division before it decided to close the school. He said they don’t trust the school division anymore.

“Many different parents (are) doing many different things: some going to homeschooling, some having to drive their kids 40 minutes to 45 minutes away,” Vorhees said. “None of us really want to be part of this school division.”

“This is our kids’ future and it was dashed by a social political belief system. There’s a lot of animosity there, I think it’s internal. We are people of faith and we’re a community of faith and we choose to forgive, but we also have rights.”

If things don’t go their way in court, the school society’s backup plan is to re-open as a private school in the fall. Margel admitted it would be a “busy summer” for the school society because the process involves a lot of paperwork under tight timelines.

Cornerstone teachers also have a choice to make. They are employees of the school division, so staying on at a revamped Cornerstone would mean giving up their jobs with the public school board.
This situation began almost a year ago; as reported by Kevin Maimann of Metro News, June 14, 2017:

The Battle River School Division southeast of Edmonton could cut ties with one of its member schools Thursday following a disagreement over bible scripture.

The Cornerstone Christian Academy Society in Kingman claims the Camrose-based school division is overstepping its boundaries, after trustees asked the academy to remove two pieces of scripture from revisions to its student handbook.

The passages include 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which states, “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

“We asked them to not include it, but perhaps use a different piece of scripture, said Diane Hutchinson with the Battle River School Division.

“There is a lot of love in the word of God. We were concerned about that specific piece of scripture, given today’s legislation and sensitive environment.”

Hutchinson said recent changes to provincial human rights legislation were part of the reason for concern over the two passages, as they could be seen as "targeting vulnerable minorities.”

Cornerstone agreed to drop the verses, but the society’s board chair Deanna Margel now fears Battle River wants to limit what bible verses they can teach, and that they will bar certain passages from the classroom if they could be deemed offensive to anyone.

“It’s a restriction on freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, it’s a violation of our constitutional freedom in Canada,” Margel said.

Both sides said they had a good relationship before the controversy.

Battle River will discuss the topic at a meeting Thursday, which Hutchinson said will either result in an agreement being reached, or Battle River dissolving its relationship with the academy.

The two verses that the Cornerstone Christian Academy proposed for a revision of its handbook, which the Battle River School Division asked it to remove:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Galatians 5:19-24

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Passages copied from the New International Version (NIV) at
As reported by Canadian Press, June 14, 2017:

...Deanna Margel, board chairwoman of the Cornerstone Christian Academy Society, told CHED radio the school fears the division wants to limit what Bible verses the school can teach generally.

She said talks between the academy and the board have been going on for six weeks and the school already agreed to drop the verses from the handbook.

Margel said the verses were part of a scriptural footnote in the school's updated statement of faith...

...The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, an organization that gives as its mission the protection of free speech, is helping the school.

President John Carpay says the school refuses to have the division dictate which parts of the Bible are acceptable.

"When the board starts to try to dictate that scriptures that some people might find offensive cannot be taught in the classroom, that's going completely contrary to the goal of diversity, which is to have schools that are actually different from each other," Carpay said.

Hutchinson said it's possible Thursday's discussion might be put on hold. The board might also suggest that the partnership between the Battle River School Division and Cornerstone Christian Academy be dissolved, she said.

The Cornerstone Christian Academy, formerly a private school, joined the school division in 2009.

Its website says it has about 160 students in kindergarten through Grade 12, who come from the communities of Camrose, Hay Lakes, Kingman, Round Hill, Ryley and Tofield and the surrounding areas.
As reported by CBC News, June 29, 2017 (updated July 13, 2017):

The public school board in Camrose, Alta., southeast of Edmonton says it will stop operating a Christian school next year after a controversy that originated over contentious Bible verses and other language in its vision document.

In a June 29 letter, the Battle River School Division said it will no longer operate Cornerstone Christian Academy School after June 30, 2018.

A lease agreement for the school building in Kingman, 27 kilometres north of Camrose, is also being terminated as of next June.

The school has operated as an alternative program under the Battle River division since 2009.

The decision to close the school next year is the latest move in an ongoing battle between the board and the school society, which has 160 students in kindergarten through Grade 12.

Trustees voted in favour of the move at a special board meeting Thursday.

The Battle River board had wanted Cornerstone to remove the word "quality" and a Corinthians scripture citation from its "school vision and purpose" document.

Battle River's lawyer had also "indicated that any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals should not be read or studied in school," Battle River board chair Laurie Skori wrote in a May 27 email to Cornerstone chair Deanna Margel.

Cornerstone's board later agreed to make the requested changes to its school vision and purpose document. As well, the Battle River board promised not to censor the reading or teaching of the Bible at the school.

Then, on June 24, the Battle River board proposed changing its master agreement with Cornerstone to prevent either board from going public with any internal matters without written permission from the other board.

Cornerstone saw the proposed change as "a gag order, which we believe is inappropriate in the context of interactions between a representative parent society and a public school board," Margel wrote in an email to Battle River trustees on June 27.

Two days later, the Battle River board said it will no longer operate the school.

In her June 29 letter to Margel, Skori said the current arrangement "cannot continue on the current basis" until both sides can agree on the "appropriate roles and involvement at the school level.

"As a public school board we must ensure that any educational programming provided complies with board policy and procedure, provincial legislation including the Alberta Human Rights Act and the School Act," the letter said.

"Unless those concerns can be resolved, we are unable to maintain the current relationship."

John Carpay, a Calgary lawyer working with the Cornerstone Christian Academy Society, dismissed the concerns that the school's use of Bible verses might violate Alberta's human rights code.

"It's a stupid claim," Carpay said. "The school board's lawyer was asked to cite one section of the Alberta human rights law that prohibits a Christian school from reading, studying, teaching Bible verses and the lawyer was asked repeatedly and could not cite a single section."

But Skori leaves open the possibility that "a mutually acceptable resolution to our respective concerns can occur over the next weeks or months."

In a news release, Cornerstone Christian Academy said it wants to continue working with the school board to operate the academy.

"We are deeply saddened by the BRSD's decision to terminate our agreement," Margel said in a statement.

She said the board's decision "makes no sense if they truly desire to continue working together. It seems unwise, and completely unnecessary, to throw away years of productive co-operation in mere weeks because we've simply hit an unusual bump in the road. Things just don't add up."
The reason that the Bible passages in question are deemed to be so objectionable is because they refer to activities practiced by the children of darkness, who can't stand the light. To quote the Lord Jesus Christ Himself:

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
John 3-19:20

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