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Supreme Court to rule today on religious teaching in schools

03/19/2015 05:00 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT
The Supreme Court of Canada is set to issue a ruling this morning that could determine how religion is taught in some schools.

The case centres on Loyola High School in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood, a private Catholic school that wants to opt out of Quebec's ethics and religious culture program.

Loyola High School was founded by the Jesuits in 1896 with the mission of teaching with a Catholic perspective.

When the Quebec government introduced its provincewide ethics and religious culture course in 2008, Loyola tried to get an exemption — but failed.

The law says that all schools must teach this course on world religion in a "secular and morally neutral way."

School officials said they felt Loyola would no longer be respecting its mandate as a Catholic school if it had to present all religions equally.

Douglas Farrow, a Catholicism professor at McGill University and an expert witness for the Loyola case at the Supreme Court, says today’s ruling may have an effect on schools’ flexibility to teach religion the way they want.

“This will be a judgment that will be read very carefully by a wide variety of people," Farrow said, adding that it could also clarify whether religious freedoms extend to organizations, not just individuals.

"The court may be very careful to say, under these particular conditions that Loyola has put forward, we order the government to grant them the exemption."

Representatives from Loyola High said they will not comment until the court rules later this morning.

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