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Professor suggests Protestant Christian schools explore linking with Catholic schools

Written on June 16th, 2008

‘We should recognize our unity in the faith and make common cause in supporting Christian education’

While a couple of independent Christian schools in Ontario have attempted to operate under a public school board and still hold on to their Christian values, John Vriend is asking why independent Protestant Christian schools aren’t exploring the possibility of a working relationship with the Ontario Catholic education system.

Vriend, a former professor at Redeemer University College, points out that Catholic schools in Ontario have a constitutional and legal right to teach from a Christian perspective.

“(They can) use the Scriptures, teach Christian morals, have devotions, and do all kinds of things in relation to supporting and encouraging religious belief that the public school cannot do.”

The public education system cannot teach one particular faith – other than a general humanism.

Vriend’s view is that Protestant and Catholic Christians have enough in common to at least consider how they might work together in the education system.

“We should recognize our unity in the faith and make common cause in supporting Christian education,” he says.

While he admits he doesn’t know whether it would make sense from a legal and constitutional perspective, he says schools should at least be exploring the possibilities.

“It does not make sense for Bible-believing Protestant Christians to ignore the largest Christian school system in Ontario that does have a legal foundation and make questionable and tenuous arrangements with the secular system,” says Vriend.

John Vanasselt, director of communications for the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS), says an alliance between Catholic and Protestant schools has been explored for more than 15 years in one way or another.

“We’ve explored the possible relationship with Catholic schools and will continue to explore it,” says Vanasselt.

As a former principal of an independent Christian school Vanasselt himself approached a local Catholic school board about the possibility of working within their system but was told “it probably wouldn’t work.”

The director points out that it does seem like an appropriate match, particularly for the Protestant Christian schools but suggests it may be more challenging for the Catholic education system to find advantages for themselves.