Christian School at Center of Scripture Skirmish Seeks Injunction After Board Votes to Shut It Down

EDMONTON, Alberta — A group comprised of parents whose children attend a Christian school in Alberta, Canada have gone to court seeking an injunction against a recent decision from board members of the local school division to shut down the academy. The school had been in a discussion with the division after officials asked them to keep “offensive” Scriptures out the classroom, a request that resulted in further breakdown as talks continued.

Global News reports that the Battle River Division voted on Thursday to close Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman after the school year ends next month. The academy is considered an alternative program under the public school system.

“I guess it was the unwillingness to work together for a communications protocol on how we communicate with each other and dealing with issues that arise,” Board Chair Kendall Severson told the outlet. “We can’t work together with an organization that’s got legal action against us, and not willing to come together and work on an agreement.”

Severson is referring to a situation that began last year when the division approached the academy to request that officials remove 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 from the school’s student handbook.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God,” the Scripture reads.

“And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

“We asked them to not include it, but perhaps use a different piece of Scripture,” Communications Director Diane Hutchinson told Metro News last June. “There is a lot of love in the word of God. We were concerned about that specific piece of Scripture, given today’s legislation and sensitive environment.”

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She was alluding the addition of homosexuals and transgenders to the 2015 Alberta Human Rights Act.

The academy removed the Scripture as requested, but became concerned when then-Board Chair Laurie Skori advised school officials that “any Scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals should not be read or studied in school.”

She then clarified in another email, “For example: any teachings that denigrate or vilify someone’s sexual orientation.”

“That’s a completely different directive, and it was shocking. Absolutely shocking,” Cornerstone Chair Deanna Margel told the National Post. “You can’t just pick and choose those Scriptures. We need every single word there to challenge us, to call us to greater understanding. It’s just so important.”

She said that she feels the directive is an infringement upon the school’s freedom of religion and speech.

In July, the division terminated its agreement with the school, and efforts to create a new agreement were unsuccessful, mainly due to an addendum that would require academy officials to keep communication confidential.

“The addendum puts the school in the position where if in the future if the school board came out with other illegal demands, then the school would not be able to speak to the public about it and that’s not acceptable,” attorney John Carpay of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms told the Camrose Canadian.

“It’s sad and unfortunate,” he said. “Both parties were in agreement that the school board had no authority to censor Bible verses, and that should have been the end of it.”

On Thursday, the division board voted to close Cornerstone Christian Academy altogether. The parents’ group has therefore taken the matter to court to stop the closure, and contends that the division can’t tell a Christian entity which Scriptures to use or not use. A hearing is scheduled for May 17.

“There’s been no allegations of educational deficiency or any complaints regarding Cornerstone,” attorney James Kitchen, also with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, told the CBC. “It’s unfortunate, and in fact unlawful, for a school division to accept a school to be an alternative program, a religious alternative program, and then censor and prohibit certain beliefs and religious practices that those religious programs then engage in.”

“I think there is a great misunderstanding of what faith means in today’s culture,” Margel also stated. “I think that what is happening at the school is a good opportunity for people to discuss their different ideas and talk about how we deal with those things.”

“Anybody familiar with the Christian Bible will recognize that there are many, many, many passages of Scripture that are offensive to even those of us who follow Christ,” she said.

If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, the school says its backup plan is to re-open as a private entity.

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  • robert boe

    This sounds a little like our U.S. Military chaplaincy if the government pays for your work there going to want to dictate what you preach and teach. The school needs to become a private school. And get out of the control of the governmemt.

  • Joe

    I’ve seen this sort of thing happening all too often. The church is getting away from those hard-hitting teachings that include things such as sin and salvation and are moving towards the Joel Osteen approach. It’s called the ‘seeker friendly’ approach. Let’s teach them nice things so we can get them in the door and keep them in their seats. We don’t want to scare them off by teaching them about sin and its consequences.

    Hogwash. Teach the hard stuff. Let them look themselves in the mirror and see what Paul told us we all are: sinners.

    • Susan Perelka

      I think what we might be starting to see is the contrast between the “wheat” and the “tares” in the church, it is starting to show more clearly because of persecution. The Word says, the tares (hypocrites-play actors- unbelievers) are there to make the wheat (obedient true believers) evident. BUT we should be careful in our discernment, all of us (true believers) can stumble at times (King David did). However, the “wheat” are grieved when they sin against God and “repent”, which results in not continuing in their sin, but to turn away from it. The “tares” continue to make excuses for their sin (or pretend repentance), or only hold to some of what God said, but not all of it (like King Saul). The tares “practice” (habitual-mostly do it) disobedience, and the wheat “practice” (habitual- not perfect) obedience to God. It is hard to discern sometimes because the “hypocrites” are pretending to be believers and some are really good at it, like when Jesus said at the last supper that one of the twelve would betray him. None of them suspected Judas Iscariot, so they probably thought he was a true disciple. BUT GOD knows those who are truly His and a strangers voice they will not hear. We all need to examine our own hearts and make sure we are truly wheat and not tares. The bible is filled with contrasts between the two. And we should guard our hearts from being led astray by the “tares” (and we need the whole council of God in order to do this- ALL of scripture). The “good and faithful” servant obey their true Master (Jesus Christ) and won’t follow man made rules that void Gods instructions. And if they stumble, God will discipline them, which will lead to true repentance. I think this is why “prayer” is part of the armor of God, we are asking God to intervene with perfect understanding, while we may discern incorrectly sometimes.

  • Susan Perelka

    Abba Father, Forgive us and awaken Your church, and convict our hearts to hold fast to ALL scripture and to not compromise and become spotted by the world. Give us boldness and confidence to stand firm and put on the FULL armor of God. Convict our hearts to pray diligently for the brethren. Let the wheat become evident by their fruit, fruit which was produced by abiding in the Vine (Jesus). Enlighten our hearts, teach us Your precepts, give us wisdom, and convict us of any iniquity in our hearts. Give us the strength to overcome the worlds ways, but instead to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of our testimony. Let the world know us by the love we have for one another and our faithfulness to You. LORD, fight for us against the wicked, who are trying to prevent us from speaking Your truth. You declared that the gates of hell shall not prevail against Your church and Your Word will not return to You void, but it will accomplish Your Will. Silence those who are trying to stop Your Word from going forth for ALL to hear. Open doors that no man can shut, and shut doors that no man can open. In our weakness, show Yourself strong. Thank You Lord for Your help. Thank You Lord for Your deliverance, Thank You Lord for Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus Mighty Name, Amen.

  • Robin Egg

    “Today’s sensitive environment”………….In other words, it hurts my feelings if you point out my sin to me.

    • Susan Perelka

      I remember when the Lord first convicted me and started pointing out my sins, made me squirm. However, it was totally necessary. I needed to see the reality of where I was at, and the answer to my fallen condition. I needed Jesus desperately! BEST thing that ever happened to me, well worth the discomfort it first started with. It hurt like crazy, but Jesus was the soothing balm that took away the pain. If asked if I would go through it again, my answer, without hesitation, would be YES!. Because I now know Jesus, I now have peace with God. Sooooooooooooooo worth it. Amazing Grace, I once was blind, but now I see. Praise God!

  • Darwin C

    There are over 21,000 thousand verses in the bible. The school did not pick Matthew 5:16 or choose Psalm 137:9.

    The school chose that message out of all the messages in the bible. Whether one agrees or disagrees that this was a good choice, they cannot pass the buck by saying “God said it, not me.”

    What happened to personal responsibility?

    • Wibur Smith

      They chose the verse most needed by the liberal Canadian society.

      • Darwin C

        Yep. Chose.

  • ironnat

    Probably hit to close to home with the school board:

    “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God,” the Scripture reads.

  • Jen

    “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, {28} Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. {29} ¶ Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27-29)
    “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” (Matthew 11:6)
    “Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. {19} When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. {20} But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; {21} Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. {22} He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. {23} But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23)
    “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11)

  • Yes, keep the scripture in there and scare those kids witless. Fear is the glue that holds a religion together. Too bad that the glue is not made of love, justice, compassion and empathy.

    • master_chief_usn

      “The fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.”

      • Which god? Yes, you will say the one in which you believe is the “only” god, as will hundreds of millions of believers in other gods. But why are there so many religions and believers in different gods around the world?

        It is irrefutable that the vast majority of believers in any exclusive religion believe theirs to be THE TRUTH because that is what they were taught from tot-hood to believe.

        It is indisputable that one’s religious beliefs have more to do with the happenstance of birth than with truth. A person is most likely to believe the theology taught by his parents, which is most often the predominant religion of the society into which he is born, and that belief is often unshakable for the rest of his life.

        Yes, some migrate to other religions, and some put their religious beliefs behind altogether, but not the far greater number (and Islam is growing faster than any other religion on Earth.

        Had you or I been born to to a radical Muslim family in a society prone to radical Islam, we, too, most likely would be radical Muslims and believe it just as fervently as any fundamentalist/evangelical Christian.

        But a Christian will often argue that Christianity is the one true religion because it has the Jesus factor. Yes, and other religions see something unique about theirs, even if it’s only the beautiful, poetic nature of the ancient scriptures or the soul soothing serenity found in meditation.

        But still, there is one tenet shared by virtually all of the different religions and espoused by the ancient sages; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Unfortunately, the Abrahamic religions, among others, have built strong walls of exclusive dogma that crush that single, greatest tenet beneath, to be forgotten in our determination to see others as lesser people, thereby bolstering our feelings of superiority and increasing the xenophobia that locks our hearts and minds in our own theological vault.

        If all humans were to discard their exclusive beliefs and adopt that one, simple tenet of universal empathy and benevolent reciprocity, this world would indeed be a wonderful place to live in perpetual peace and harmony for all.

        What good and just god would disapprove?

  • Greg B

    Why should a Christian school have any connection to the government school system? What gives the government the authority to shut down a private school? Is Canada now a part of the Soviet Union?

  • wannabchief

    if you don’t like the scriptures, then get out! Go find another school, quit imposing your beliefs on others!