How you can help end the funding of faith schools in BC
We've just published examples of independent schools in BC that are teaching creationism in science classrooms. These are schools that together receive tens of millions of dollars from the provincial government.
But right now we have an opportunity to push back on this funding.
The BC Legislature's Finance Committee is currently holding public hearings across the province on the 2019 budget. Anyone is welcome to sign up for one of these hearings and speak for five minutes.
A number of these meetings are already full but if you live in Cranbrook, Trail, Nelson, Kamloops or Kelowna, you can sign up to speak this week.
Let us know if you will be speaking and we'll help you prepare some speaking notes.
Otherwise, you can make a written, audio or video submission and you can complete the committee's survey online. This is a great chance to encourage the committee to put nearly half a billion dollars back in the public education system.
We'll be releasing our own submission to the committee soon.Read more
Spend a bit of time looking through the websites of some of BC's independent schools and it's easy to find schools that proudly teach Biblical creationism alongside evolution in science classrooms.
Independent schools that receive public money are required to teach the BC curriculum, which includes the scientific reality of evolution in Grade 7 Science and Life Science 11. However, as we've shown most independent school funding goes to faith schools.
The following schools seem to arguably undermine that curriculum by "teaching the controversy," a creationist strategy intended to undermine evolutionary science in American high schools.Read more
The BC Humanist Association is welcoming proposed legislation to repeal restrictions on the political activities of charities in Canada but we are disappointed that the proposals don't go farther.
Under existing rules, Canadian charities must not spend more than 10% of its resources on "political activities." This includes activities intended to influence legislation or government policy. Charities are forbidden from partisan activities, which includes endorsing or opposing specific candidates or parties.
The federal government quietly released proposed changes to these rules on Friday evening. The proposals would remove references to political activities from the Income Tax Act. This follows recommendations from the Report of the Consultation Panel on the Political Activities of Charities released earlier this year and the Canada Without Poverty v AG ruling. That ruling found the current restrictions to be unconstitutional; however, the government is appealing.Read more
The BC Humanist Association today called on the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector to support new legislation defining what a charity is and for that legislation to create equality between religious and nonreligious worldviews in Canadian charity law.Read more
When a journalist from Saanich News reached out for a story on permissive tax exemptions in the District of Saanich, I decided to go through and look up the detailed policies for most of the municipalities around Victoria. Even within a very small region, we're able to see a wide variety of approaches taken by different councils.
Every municipality below grants at least some permissive exemptions for religious properties but how they decide which to provide, and how they report them, varies greatly.Read more
Christian and Catholic groups are receiving a disproportionate amount of BC's Independent School funding, according to an analysis released by the BC Humanist Association today.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
Last week we showed how BC's Office of Independent Schools has been overseen by evangelical Christians for three decades. So it's not surprising to see hundreds of millions of dollars go to Christian and Catholic schools in greater proportion than one would expect from the religious demographics of the province.
23% of British Columbians identified as Christian or Catholic in a 2016 poll by the BCHA (or 45% in the 2011 Census). However, 62% of the $358 million dollars given to independent schools went to Christian and Catholic schools in the 2017-18 school year.Read more
There is a risk that we are going to be forcing people, or trying to force people, to engage in a service or a support that is legitimately not right for them.
Karen Urbanoski, a scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research in Victoria, told this to journalist Bethany Lindsay in a CBC feature piece on Byron Wood's human rights complaint over being required to attend Alcoholic's Anonymous by his former employer.Read more
The Office of the Inspector of Independent Schools, a department of the Ministry of Education, is responsible for the oversight of independent schools.
Janet Steffenhagen’s thorough reporting in the Vancouver Sun in 2007 found that every inspector of those schools going back to the 1980s was connected to an Evangelical Christian School. This trend has continued through today and it raises the question of why the one office designated to oversee BC's private schools has been run entirely by people coming out of a faith group that accounts for approximately 13% of British Columbia and, as we'll show next week, a fraction of the independent school community.Read more
After releasing the responses we received to our survey of BC municipalities' various approaches to permissive tax exemptions for religious organizations, I spoke to Radio NL in Kamloops about their city's approach.
Kamloops, like most cities in BC, does give permissive tax exemptions to religious properties and doesn't apply a clear public benefits test. However, the local details provide a glimpse into how complex these questions can be across the province.Read more