Church presence at Montreal high school raises questions, CBC News, 2015-10-28
A religious group is offering a little extra help to a Montreal public school, but one expert says the volunteer work raises questions about religious neutrality. The église du Plateau Mont-Royal is relying on its worshippers to volunteer at Jeanne-Mance High School. Volunteers offer support for homework, extend library hours and help find musical instruments for students. Since the end of September, the church has also been renting out space from the secondary school that belongs to the Commission scolaire de Montréal. Solange Lefebvre, the chair of the religious studies department at the Université de Montréal, warns that clear rules must be in place for when individuals from a religious group interact with minors in an education setting. The evangelical baptist organization is counting on its 70 worshippers to give a helping hand. Approximately 20 volunteers are being trained to work at the school’s library.
Julie White, a spokeswoman for Quebec Education Minister François Blais, said that proselytism is not allowed in schools and that volunteers must work in the name of the school. However, that is entirely up to schools and individual school boards to oversee.
The religious are often very willing to “help” provided that the situation allows them access to persons who are easily influenced, such as children, the poor, the sick, etc. The Quebec government’s austerity policy tends to impoverish public schools, thus making them more dependent on volunteers such as those provided by the church.