23 August 2007

Publicly fund Muslim schools? Why not Fascist schools?

The Ontario Conservatives' promise to publicly fund faith-based schools if they are elected on October 10th has rekindled an old debate. If Catholic schools are publicly funded in Ontario, as they are, why not the schools of other denominations? Or should no religious schools at all be publicly funded, not even Catholic?

One rather obvious question that never arises during this debate is, why limit the debate to faith-based schools? Why not public funding for schools based on political ideologies, say Communist schools? Or Fascist schools? Or, for that matter, why limit the debate to ideology. Why not ethnically-based schools? Why not English schools, Chinese schools or Arab schools?

Religious folk insist that religion is of special importance because it's part of them. It's part of who they are. But actually it isn't,
at least not physically. There is no Christian gene, or Muslim gene, or Hindu gene. Religion is always imposed on the individual. People are indoctrinated in it.

Our political beliefs, on the other hand, are influenced very much by our genes. People who are genetically conservative will generally adopt a conservative political philosophy, and people who are genetically progressive or liberal, will adopt a socialist or liberal political philosophy. In other words, our political beliefs are truly a part of who we are. They are built into our genes. They would seem, therefore, to justify segregating children more than religious beliefs. This is also true, of course, of ethnicity.

So let us not discriminate. Politically-based schools and ethnically-based schools deserve the same consideration as faith-based schools. On with the debate.


  1. I'm pretty sure that whether we believe in conservative ideals, or liberal ideals is no more genetically determined than whether we believe in Christianity or Islam.

    I totally agree that there is no "Christian gene" or "Muslim gene" but I'm not sure how you go from that to suggesting that there IS a "conservative gene" or a "liberal gene".

    It makes no sense to claim that religious beliefs can't be genetic, but political beliefs can. They're just two different types of beliefs. If one can't be genetic, neither can the other. No one is "genetically conservative" or "genetically liberal", at least, no moreso than people are "genetically Christian", or "genetically Muslim". Genes just aren't smart enough to say "I'll manipulate what he thinks about politics, but not what he thinks about religion". Our genes just don't work that way.

    Now ETHNICITY is different of course, and there, there is clearly a genetic factor. However one can't possibly conclude that political beliefs have a genetic component behind them and religious beliefs don't. On its face that makes no sense. One simply can't be "genetically conservative" if one can't be "genetically Christian". Ideology is mostly nurture, not nature, and our genese don't discriminate between political ideology and religious ideology.

    Now, all of that DOES place religiously-based schools on the same playing field as politically-based schools (thoguh perhaps not ethnically-based schools) so your thought experiment is still entirely valid, but I do feel it's important to point out that genes can't pick and choose which areas of our beliefs they will effect, and which they will not. Either genetics effects ideology, or it doesn't, but genes can't possibly effect one are of ideology and not another. They just can't.

  2. Political beliefs in our genes!

    First I've ever heard of that - I'd love to read a blog entry explaining that theory ...

  3. Interesting argument...I think for me, at least, where it would eventually lead would be to a deeper questioning of the purpose of education, and perhaps even more fundamental shifts in how it is organized in our society.

    I would be interested in seeing supporting data for your claim that political beliefs are genetically determined...I have to say I am quite skeptical.

    And also, though I understand the point you are making after reading the post, I would question your choice of title...at least at the ProbBlog aggregator, where little more than the headline is visible, it gives the impression of a much different sort of politics than you actually advance, what with the right-wing drivel about "islamofascism" constantly swirling around us.

  4. Let's really slide down this slippery slope! The gay,lesbian and transgendered society in Ottawa wants the city to recognise their diversity by designating an area of the city as a gay area. Gay schools can't be far behind.

    When taken to these extremes it's easy to see why ANY segregation of children for any belief - religious or otherwise - is a bad idea.

  5. My point about schools seems to have been overwhelmed by my comment on genes. Oh well.

    Lord Kitchener's Own: You state, "No one is 'genetically conservative' or 'genetically liberal', at least, no more so than people are 'genetically Christian', or 'genetically Muslim.'"With all due respect, that isn't true. Conservative and liberal (uncapitalized) are personal characteristics; Christian and Muslim are ideologies. Our characteristics are most certainly determined by our genes (and our early upbringing, of course). Ideologies are not. Religious ideologies are almost always instilled by our parents or community. The intensity of our religious belief is, however, influenced by our genes, a liberal person tending to be a moderate believer, a conservative a more rigid believer.

    Scott: Sorry about the title.

  6. You are on the right path about non-religious schools who may or may not be deserving of funding.

    There are around 53,000 students attending private religious schools in Ontario. Note: I don't say "faith-based." There are about the same number that attend non-religious private schools such as Montessori schools and schools for special needs. Would these be eligible for funding under John Tory's proposal? How about Mandarin Immersion schools? How about schools that focus on the arts or athletics? I guess these schools will need to have 20 minutes of daily vigorous spiritual yoga every day for them to qualify for religious school funding.

    I'm not against having different types of schools. I don't believe the cookie cutter approach where everyone gets the same type of education always works. I would like to hear how John Tory's proposal will improve the literacy and numeracy skills of Ontario's children.

    Did anyone watch The Simpsons episode where a toy-marketing company took over Springfield Elementary and students worked on marketing activites. Remember Funzo.