The Battle River School Division, just east of Edmonton, Alberta, is pushing a Christian school to censor certain Bible verses because they could be seen as “targeting vulnerable minorities.”
Now the Cornerstone Christian Academy, a former private school that joined the division in 2009, fears the administrators have overstepped their boundaries with a new human rights code, Metro News reported. The division has expressed concern about two passages in particular — 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:19-21.
The 1 Corinthians passage states, in part, “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The passage from Galatians similarly reads: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
Diane Hutchinson, a spokeswoman for the Battle River School Division, said administrators asked the Christian school not to include those verses in its student handbook, “but perhaps use a different piece of Scripture” instead.
“There is a lot of love in the word of God,” she said. “We were concerned about that specific piece of Scripture, given today’s legislation and sensitive environment.”
Cornerstone has agreed to temporarily drop the Bible verses from its handbook. However, the school’s board chair, Deanna Margel, is worried the division wants to limit what Christian tenets can be taught, given they can block any Bible passage from the classroom if it could be deemed offensive to a particular group of students.
“It’s a restriction on freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of speech,” Margel said. “It’s a violation of our constitutional freedom in Canada.”
According to CBC News, Hutchinson expects the board will suggest it might be best if the partnership between Battle River and Cornerstone be dissolved.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Canadian organization dedicated to protecting free speech, is assisting the school with the issue.
John Carpay, president of the centre, said the school will stand its ground and will not permit the division to cherrypick which Scripture passages are permissible.
“When the board starts to try to dictate that Scriptures that some people might find offensive cannot be taught in the classroom,” he said, “that’s going completely contrary to the goal of diversity, which is to have schools that are actually different from each other.”
The Christian school offers education to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.