Parents debate religion in public schools
By Beth Macdonell, CTV Winnipeg
Published Tuesday, April 21, 2015 5:18AM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, April 21, 2015 12:31PM CST
Dozens of parents attended a Winnipeg School Division Board meeting Monday night to voice their views on extra-curricular religious clubs.
Under the Public Schools Act, if a petition is submitted with 25 signatures, a group or club is allowed to use school space.
Trustee Lisa Naylor put forward a motion to change the wording from, the school board shall pass a by-law authorizing instruction in religion -- to it may pass
Naylor says the division should have more authority over who's allowed in schools.
But parents against the change say a child attending a class on religion should be treated the same as any activity.
"A chess club. It's there for him right… It's just a bunch of like-minded guys, girls, same age who want to do something they enjoy," said Ralph Friedenberger who has a son going to school in the Winnipeg School Division.
Those who support Naylor say it’s a change long overdue, and that religion has no place in Manitoba schools.
They're worried religious groups use the space to recruit students.
“They get kids to spread the word so that at recess or right after their instruction, they're told to go tell kids what they've learned”, said Antonio Governo who spoke at the meeting and is with the Humanists, Atheists and Agonistics of Manitoba.
"Nobody forces their children to go, if a child is asked to attend they have the right to say no," said parent Glenda Bourque to trustees.
Religion got on the agenda after a petition was submitted by the child evangelism fellowship, at Greenway School in the West End.
The CEF says it's present in about 40 Manitoba schools. It denies recruiting children and says parents have nothing to fear.
Trustee Mike Babinsky agrees, and says religious groups simply use school space.
Trustees will vote on the motion May 4th.
If the motion passes, it will be the province's turn to decide if the words should change in the Public Schools Act.