Agree or Disagree: The Podcast-Why we need GSA’s.An interview with a High School Student and Parent


Click this link for part 3 of our series of conversations around Gay Straight Alliances.

We heard from people who had some concerns about GSA’s. If you missed that, click here. It was with Jojo Ruba, Derek Fildebrandt, Terry Lo and Jeff Wilson.

The second was with Kent Hehr. If you missed that, click the link here.

This perspective is from a High School student named Caprice and her mother Diane. Caprice is in Grade 10. She is slowly opening up about who she is and her mom is there to support her.

We also heard from Kelly Hofer. If you haven’t heard his story, we touch on it briefly here. He is a Hutterite who, once he came out, cannot go back to his colony to be with his friends and family there. He has started a support group which he will talk about as well. Kelly couldn’t stay with us the whole time, but we did appreciate his perspective. If you wish to listen to his interview, listen to it here.

Oh, and Terry Lo is with us as well.

Topics we cover in our Podcast include;

Kelly’s perspective on GSA’s and the concerns from the religious community.

Diane’s experience dealing with teachers and principles in schools.

Caprice’s perspective.

A response to if an “anti-bullying” club solves the problem

A response to the parental concern argument.

Their impression on Gordon Dirks

Terry walks through how feasible Bill 10 would work with Caprice. And the logic behind it.

Follow Diane @Diegirl

Agree or Disagree: The Podcast-Interview with Kent Hehr


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Kent Hehr and I discuss the recent issues around Bill 202 and Bill 10.

Click here to listen to the Podcast.

If you remember, Kent brought forward a private members bill Motion 503 which would make it mandatory for school boards to support students who want to form Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs)
Topics we discuss include;

-Kent motivation behind bringing Motion 503

-The process behind Bill 202 and the expectations of what would happen

-Bill 10

-The response to concerns that religious schools that this is a violation of their rights

-Gordon Dirks silence

-The hope going forward

We also spent some time discussing Provincial and Federal politics as well.

We discussed;

-the current perception of Alberta Liberal party

-his perception of the other parties

-the impact of oil prices and when Prentice could call an election.

-His nomination for Liberal MP

-Why he feels it’s important that we have a Liberal MP from Calgary.

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@kenthehr

Check out his website
www.kenthehr.ca

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@kevole
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Agree or Disagree: It is time to eliminate the Separate School System.


As usual, there was lots of interesting conversation on Facebook.

Today, the topic was education. And the discussion of the need of the Catholic School System.

There was a comment on Facebook that made the rounds. I thought we can use this as our framework tonight.

It is from a contributor named Luke Fevin. Or, for now Duke Luke Fevin. Here it is.

PM Wilfred Laurier did a deal in 1905 just prior to Alberta coming into Confederation to secure the Catholic vote in the upcoming election. His end of the deal was to promise the option of “Separate” schools for the Catholics in Alberta, in areas where they were the minority and there was an existing Public (Protestant) school.

These schools were intended to be “secular” (yes, that’s the word they used to describe them) during the day with the exception of the option of opening the school day with the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and RESTRICTS the option of 30 minutes of religious instruction to the end of the day.

The fact that there was so little difference (they were identical in every way during the day) meant that Separate schools weren’t generally expected to survive. That given the only difference between Public & Separate school was the last 30 minutes of the day, it was expected that the taxpayers would say it wasn’t worth the expense.

From 1905, we have in my opinion gone backward. The Catholic system has completely ignored, flouted and abused laws & the Rights of others.

Although to be fair, it’s not just the Catholic system that has ignored these laws. We have a number of Evangelical Christian Public schools, as well Christian programs such as LOGOS, as well as a couple of other Public Faith schools that all demand and enjoy the privileges and protections of law, but completely ignore it when it suits them.

It is time to dis-establish the Separate school system.

It is it blatantly unfair for the government to favor one religion with infrastructure and tax dollars and the “constitutional” argument is redundant. Firstly, other provinces have done it already. No biggie.

And let me ask you. If women not having the vote was constitutionally protected, would anyone care? No. It’s a bad idea, irrelevant to today and so we’d change it. The Separate school system is no different.

In fact, t is so unfair, that the United Nations Human Rights Committee actually cited Canada for religious discrimination!

A family with 3 kids in another denominational Private school is worse off by $150,000 tax dollars than the same Catholic family in a Catholic school . How is that fair?

And for those that say their property taxes get directed to their local Catholic board. No it doesn’t. The money goes in a big pot and then follows the child. On top of which, if you’re paying $3,000 a year in property taxes and have 3 kids in school – even if 50% of your taxes go to education you are still only contributing $500 of a $10,000 tab. The Province is picking up the other 95%.

And as for what we get in return for the approx. $200 MILLION we waste EVERY year in the operating inefficiences of running two competing duplicate systems? What is the educational advantage?

Nothing. We get a cross over the door of one in 5 of our schools and get to act like a farm team for the Catholic church. In the meantime (many of) the Catholic schools and boards get / choose to;

#1 Deny Canadian families their Charter Rights.
#2 Turn away non-Catholic families (including forcing them on lengthy bus rides).
#3 Discriminate in hiring non-Catholics teachers.
#4 Coerce young graduating teachers to become Catholic.
#5 Deny students the ability to form GSA’s.
#6 Force teachers / students to sign Christian lifestyle pledges.
#7 Teach abstinence focused sex ed.
#8 Fire gender-reassigning teachers.
#9 Coerce gay teachers in / remain in closet.
#10 Choose to deny schoolchildren the choice of easy access to medicine / vaccinations based on inaccurate religious beliefs.

Madness. You have to have grown up here to think that this is OK or normal. We actually operate a school system where we bus kids past schools they could walk to! For why?

Personally I’d rather spend the $200 MILLION dollars EVERY year from the EDUCATION budget on more teachers & schools – and I think it’s time we let our elected officials know that.

What do you think of this statement? Do you Agree or Disagree with it?

Agree or Disagree: The Religious Right is fading away.


There is a new book out.

I’m not sure many of you will read it. Well, you might.

The book is called Distortion. It’s basically a book taking shots on how the Progressive Christians are destroying the message of the Gospel. People like Rachel Held Evans,Sarah Bessey, Shane Claiborne, and Benjamin Corey.

Speaking of Covey….

He  notes that the Religious Right is facing a demise. Actually, I apologize, that is somewhat of an understatement. Here’s a portion of his post on this in Patheos.

“They know it, and we know it: the movement of the “Religious Right” has failed. What we’re seeing out of the Religious Right is similar to when a star dies– after the death of a star there’s still some fusion activity going on, the core begins to collapse under the forces of gravity, and the outer layers temporarily heat up as the star undergoes a prolonged death experience. The star is dead– out of fuel– but the actual death process can take a few billion years.”

You can read the rest here.

We can sit and talk about  an endless list of things the Religious Right has been responsible for. For example, speaking out against homosexuality and ignoring the bullying of them.  Or, subtly, or actually not so subtly, telling people to stop supporting Third World children because of “traditional values”.

These things have caused anger to non-Christians and Christians. Particularly from Christians who have a far different view of Scripture than the angry, authoritative and uninformed views some of the Right have represented.

So, two questions

But, is the Religious Right done? Are we watching the slow death or demise of this movement? Or, does it still have the strength to move forward?

The other question is this. Corey thinks there are things we can learn from the apparent demise of the Religious Right.  Things like “taking back the country from the left”. Do you think there are things we can learn from this?

Agree or Disagree: Canada sending military support to stop ISIS


In case you missed it today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a 6 month maximum commitment of air combat to fight ISIS.

For a rundown for the story, here is a link to the story from CBC which you can read here.

What are your thoughts on the decision? Is the right strategy?  Too much?  Too little?  Just right?

Agree or Disagree: The Mainstream Media does not fully understand Islam


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I’d like to start this conversation by showing this picture.  This was a picture of a rally in Toronto over the summer.

On one side there were Muslims supporting Palestine. The other were Jewish people supporting Israel.

The general feedback of this specific rally was it was peaceful. However, I saw some on the Pro-Israel side call out some insults to Muslim woman. Too rough to mention here.

Now, if I was too make a blanket statement about Jewish people and what their religion promotes, there would be offence taken. And that would be fair. The Jewish faith is generally a beautiful faith.

Often, there are statements about Christians being homophobic, racist etc.. Westboro Baptist Church does not represent Christianity. Other “extreme” actions are often distanced by Christians. And Christians will often state these actions are not fully  what Christianity is. People generally agree with that.

However, what I’m noticing a trend when it comes to the current perception of Islam. There seems too be, and maybe it’s only me noticing this, that we have made some blanket statements about Islam. It seems many try to connect actions from groups like ISIS and Al-Queda to what the Muslim faith teaches.

Reza Aslan has a response to that.

In this  interview with CNN, Aslan argues that the current issues going on in what we have generally called Muslim countries, is not a Muslim problem, but a people problem.

He also states that while people argue that Islam is a religion of violence, he argues that Islam is neither a religion of violence or peace. I’ll let you listen to his explanation on that. You will also notice his anger towards the interviewers at CNN.

Which leads to this question.

Do you think that The Mainstream Media have given a fair representation of what Islam is? Or, are we dealing with some blanket statements about Islam?

Agree or Disagree: You would sign a permission slip so your kid can bring home a Gideon Bible


This is a long title.

However, when you read the story, you will understand.

This is a blog from Susan Goldberg. She is excited about the new school year. New routines.New activities. And a very interesting permission slip.

This one.image

A permission slip from The Gideons! They would like to send Susan’s kid and perhaps your kid with a nice new Gideon Bible.

You can read her concerns in her blog. One of her concerns is that her kids are in a public school. The idea of public school for many is to not have religion in the classroom. This…well…contradicts that.

So, if you were the parent and your kid brought home this permission slip, would you sign it?

Why or why not?