Are Muslim prayers at TDSB school faith-based funding?

Update Wednesday, July 27th, 2011: There is a completely misleading article at the National Post’s “Full Comment” by Amira Elghawaby (H/T Catherine) He or she simply did not do their homework regarding Eden High School. This arrangement was made twenty-five years ago and is unique in Ontario. I have left a comment at the Post explaining why the information presented is wrong. Here, for example is the daily timetable where it is clearly stated that Chapel and the Grade 9 Bible Study course is from 8:25am until 8:50am with the regular school day starting at 9am like most other public high schools.

Original article starts here: Is the fact that Muslim prayers are happening in a Ontario publicly funded school (Valley Park Middle School in the Toronto District School Board) each and every Friday afternoon, an example of faith-based funding?

Well, the argument against Eden High School in St. Catharines has always been that Eden is essentially a publicly funded faith-based high school. Why? Because it provides a Christian oriented chapel service BEFORE the school day starts.

Yet, Valley Park is allowed to provide a Muslim prayer service right after lunch in the middle of a school day and we hear very little about it by the politicians and the media.  

The bottom line is this: How can the McGuinty Liberal government defend Muslim faith-based prayer programs that are happening during the main part of a school day, when Eden can only provide a similar program before the school day starts?

Well, in my opinion, the McGuinty can’t defend the decision. Meaning, that faith-based funding has come to Dalton McGuinty Ontario schools by the back door — and only for those who follow Islam!

For the full extent of the inequality and the media’s reticence to condemn the Muslim prayer program, read this column by Moira MacDonald, which was published in the Toronto Sun on July 5th, 2011.

Interestingly, prayer, or at least of the Judeo-Christian variety, was thrown out of Ontario’s public schools decades ago. So, why the favouritism now? And, make no mistake about it, it is favouritism and the politically correct fear of offending.  

I mean, the school principal, Nickolas Stefanoff, says the Friday afternoon prayer program is a great idea because it keeps kids in school longer and out of trouble. Plus, one of the school’s prayer program volunteers, Ali Baig, thinks it is a good idea because: “Religious practice builds kids’ character and makes them better contributors to society.”

Whoa! Hold on there! The issue isn’t that religion in public schools is a good idea. Some of us know it is!  In fact, we have an entirely separate “Catholic” system that confirms that notion. No, in this incident, it’s about an appearance of”inclusiveness” and “equality” that are neither.

I mean, remember the fight four years ago during the 2007 Ontario election campaign, when the Ontario Progressive Conservative leader at that time, John Tory, was running on a platform that included faith-based funding for public schools. You’d have thought the sky was falling.

The crux of the matter is, then, during this current Ontario election campaign, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and PC leader Tim Hudak, need to ask that Dalton McGuinty defend what is going on. Remember, in the summer and fall of 2007, it was the McGuinty crowd who were hysterical over the faith-based funding policy being “divisive.”

Or, is it only divisive  when it involves Christian Protestants, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus?

C/P Jack’s Newswatch.

Update: Welcome NewsWatchCanada readers!