TORONTO (RNS) A group of Catholic and Jewish parents is taking the province of Quebec to court to challenge a government ban on religious teachings at subsidized daycare centers.
The parents say a Quebec policy that prohibits religious instruction in government subsidized daycare centers contravenes the federal and provincial charters of rights, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday (May 31).
The provincial directive, which took effect Wednesday, allows inspectors to determine when lines between culture and religion are crossed. The policy is seen as another step toward Quebec’s march toward secularism.
It would prohibit mentions of God and miracles. Traditional nativity plays, for example, would have to end this Christmas.
Parents in Quebec pay $7 a day to send their children to daycare. The government covers the balance of approximately $40 a day. There are about 2,000 subsidized daycares serving children 5 and under, and about 100 offer some religious content.
Sandy Jesion, a plaintiff in the case whose daughter attends a subsidized Jewish daycare in Montreal, told the National Post newspaper that the Bible’s story about the flood “is not a problem, but the fact that God spoke to Noah and told him to build the Ark is religious, and under the directive, you can’t do that.”
Yolande James, Quebec’s Family Minister, said she stands by the policy.
“Society has accepted that the teaching of faith is not in the public school system, and the same principle is applicable here in the subsidized daycare system,” she told the Post.