Taxpayer-funded, public schools have a constitutional obligation to teach evidence and science-based curriculum that is religiously neutral and all inclusive of all students.
Social Studies Section (S.S.S)
Religious education in schools across Alberta needs a major overhaul to reflect an increasingly diverse world and should include the study of atheism, humanism, agnosticism and secularism. The subject should be renamed Religion and Worldviews to equip young people with respect and empathy for different faiths, no faiths and viewpoints.
Content “must reflect the complex, diverse and plural nature of worldviews”, drawing from “a range of religious, philosophical, spiritual and other approaches to life, including different traditions within Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, non-religious worldviews and concepts including humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism”.
Learning about worldviews helps young people to deal positively with controversial issues, to manage strongly held differences of belief and to challenge stereotypes. In an increasingly diverse society, understanding religious and non-religious worldviews has never been more essential than it is now.
It makes sense to most that non–religious perspectives should have visibility and inclusion in RE. In a democratic, pluralist society, non–religious views deserve as much as respect as religious ones. Moreover, to my mind the exclusion of non–religious views from RE only serves to exceptionalise religious ones. The implicit message to young people is that non–religion is the unspoken, well–understood norm; but religious stuff needs to be studied because it is something extra, and the cause of controversy.
That said, it wouldn’t necessarily be an easy inclusion. Secular humanism could be taught readily as a relatively coherent category with beliefs and practices, alongside the idealised, doctrinal versions of religions already presented. But this would only capture a subsection of the people who describe themselves as ‘non–religious’, but who hold a huge variety of beliefs, ranging from the material to the supernatural
In a society where increasing numbers of children grow up in non–religious families, increasing numbers do not have the opportunity to study the beliefs they have been raised with in a rigorous, self–reflective and critical manner.
The Alberta Humanist Association will campaign for reform of religious education (RE) because we believe that all pupils should have the opportunity to consider philosophical and fundamental questions, and that in an open society we should learn about each other’s beliefs, including atheism, humanism and agnostics.
We will work for RE to become an inclusive, impartial, objective, fair, balanced, and relevant subject allowing pupils to explore a variety of religions and humanism, sitting alongside other humanities subjects in the curriculum and with the same status as them. It should include the historical and social contexts of the emergence and development of religions and humanism.
We want a subject on the curriculum which helps young people to form and explore their own beliefs and develop an understanding of beliefs and values different from their own; enriches pupils’ knowledge of the religious and humanist heritage of humanity and so supports other subjects such as History, English Literature, Art, Music, and Geography; and allows pupils to engage with serious ethical and philosophical questions in a way that develops important skills of critical thinking, reasoning, and inquiry.
We are interested in education for three reasons:
We aim for Alberta to be a secular province with no privilege or discrimination on grounds of religion or belief the continuing religious discrimination in our provincial school system is therefore a concern for us.
We aim for humanism to be better understood as an ethical and fulfilling non-religious approach to life and so we have an interest in ensuring that it features on the school curriculum on equal terms with religions.
Humanists believe that all children have a right to receive a broad and balanced education and to access accurate, evidence-based information, free from undue influence.
The UCP and the NDP are both leaving out the Nonreligious in their fight for an updated provincial curriculum