A Way to Help Parents in Ontario Exempt Their Kids from Religion Classes

In Ontario, Roman Catholic schools are funded by taxpayers just like public schools. While that means the government is paying for religious education, it also means the Catholic schools can’t completely get away from following certain rules. For example, students are not required to take a religious education class… as long as their parents request an exemption from the school.

Unfortunately, some parents have found those exemptions hard to come by.

Lo and behold, a website called MyExemption.com has been set up to help parents out with just that task:

It answers all your questions about getting the exemptions, guides you through the process, offers a sample letter (PDF), and lets you know exactly what to expect:

So… it won’t be easy. But the law requires it. If parents are educated about the fact that their kids don’t have to waste their time getting indoctrinated, they can take steps to put their kids in more useful classes.

(via Canadian Atheist)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Haha USA

    Once again, the Internet takes off its glove and slaps religion in its face with it.

    Bye bye religion. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

  • A3Kr0n

    Is that just in Ontario, or all of Canada?

  • Dorothy

    just in ontario. education is under provincial jurisdiction in canada so each province is different. other provinces have their own, or similar, issues tho

  • CanadianNihilist

    Well, at least it’s something. Not anything great like the classes getting disbanded altogether but that’s not going to happen.

    Now you only have to worry about ostracizing your children when you do this.

  • Zugswang

    Boy, that “Liars for Jesus” trope just keeps on being true.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • rlrose328

    I guess I just don’t understand why it’s not easy if it’s the law. It should be a simple letter to the school and that’s it.

  • WillBell

    I’m in an Ontario Catholic School, I will not be choosing this option, other than a basically free mark it is too much trouble even after its done, teachers would take a different attitude, my friends would too (although we do have a disproportionate number of atheists in my school) and it would just be a mess that I don’t want going through high school.

  • Arclight_Dynamo

    I went to Catholic school in Ontario K-12. I can tell you, had I been exempted from religion classes, there would have been zero ostracism on the part of the students or the teachers. Really, I mean it. Ontario Catholic schools are, I found, more secular than Ontario public schools. (At least the students and teachers – board policies are different)

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m surprised one of our resident Godbots hasn’t started screaming that this is exactly like science deniers wanting their kids to be excused from evolution or sex ed.

    Not that it really is, but theists aren’t exactly good with facts.

  • 7Footpiper

    I wished I had gone to an RC School in Ontario, if only to learn about the utter tripe they teach, it would have made me a far better debater of religion. I think that’s one of the things that made Christopher Hitchens (PBUH) such a great debater.

  • Trickster Goddess

    I believe Ontario and Alberta are the only two provinces that have taxpayer funded religious schools. Quebec used to, but they got rid of them a while ago.

  • JesseS

    Saskatchewan as well, and the three territories have the option but I’m not sure if they actually have any.

  • Trickster Goddess

    I’ve read that Newfoundland also used to have them but got rid of them. Here in BC we’ve never had them.

  • a hangman on tyre

    I went to an RC school in Ontario and the religion class was actually quite interesting – the teachers allowed us to discuss and debate all kinds of different ethical questions and even challenge church doctrine. I’m sure it all depends on your teacher though.

    But it was an easy mark. Nobody failed. It was a necessary evil. Although I do remember one of my friends getting exempted because they needed a certain subject to graduate and the only time it was available was when his religion class was scheduled. So, they let him not take religion that year. And this was back before RC high schools were fully funded (we had to pay tuition to go).

  • Sara

    I went to a Catholic High School in Kingston, ON and I had zero issues getting exempt. I guess I was lucky? My parents just sent a note in and that was it. No religion class, no having to go to mass. Though during mass I was required to be in the library. The teachers there were excellent and the only religion I ever endured was the lord’s prayer over the loud speaker every morning.

    I wasn’t even an atheist back then, and my parents were nominal christians. I think I just wanted to be exempt because I found Mass boring and liked the idea of having a more interesting class in place of religion.

  • baal

    I’m still thinking Haha USA is a troll. Their points are generic, simple minded and aggressive. The debut of this nym used all caps and other bizarre formatting like a fundamentalist.

  • Haha USA

    Hello Troll-Patrol™,

    Thanks for coming to add something to the discussion… You can keep up that finger pointing and I’ll keep up mocking your dumb country (Yeah, I know this thread is about Canadia and not about the United Stupid of America).

    I’ve made a login to keep track of my comments so that others can decide for themselves.

  • Patrick Clare

    It’s not quite as simple as “students are not required to take a religious education class… as long as their parents request an exemption from the school”. Confusion about denominational entitlements in the Ontario education system is perhaps the norm.

    According to the Ontario Education Act, only parents who are “public school supporters” who have children attending a secondary school operated by a Roman Catholic separate school board (this happens especially when the Catholic school is closer to home) may seek the exemption.

    Parents who are registered as “separate school supporters” are not eligible to seek the exemption because they are, officially at least, Roman Catholics.

    Outside interest in the legal cases arising from adverse effects of this invidious system is most welcome. The more analysis this receives from U.S. and other media the better.

  • myexemptionca

    You are correct that separate school supporters are not eligibe for this exemption. Only Roman Catholics (self identified…no documentation required) can be separate school supporters. But, Roman Catholics may also choose to be “Public” school supporters. Therefore the children of Roman Catholics who choose to be “Public” school supporters are eligible for this exemption. It’s interesting to note that Roman Catholics have a choice of their school support status….non Catholics have no choice.