Future of Cornerstone Christian Academy undecided
Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman and the Battle River School Division have a June 27 deadline to form a new agreement regarding the use of scripture in the school. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian
The future of Cornerstone Christian Academy's partnership with the Battle River School Division is up in the air following a school board meeting on Thursday.
The Christian academy went public on June 13 with their concerns over biblical censorship by the school board.
The issue arose from the request to remove a specific bible passage and the word "quality" from their statement of faith in accordance with the School Act and Human Rights Legislation, as well as indicating in an email "that any scripture that could be considered offensive to particular individuals should not be read or studied in school."
Cornerstone Christian Academy Society had no issue complying with the first request, but it was the second part they have a problem with.
Their stance is not to be preaching hate at the school, to be caring and accepting of all students, but who makes that determination on what can and cannot be used and, further, that the Bible is not something to be actively censored.
"You can't pick and choose and say this one counts and this one doesn't. You have to look at the entire scripture as a whole," said CCA Society chairperson Deanna Margel. "They didn't want to look at this as a whole, it was anything that could be considered offensive. What is offensive? Who gets to decide that? … There shouldn't be restrictions on what's considered offensive, that's a violation of freedom of expression and freedom of speech.'"
In her remarks at the board meeting, BRSD chairperson Laurie Skori said: "This school division takes its role of serving students very seriously. We exist to educate children. Our role is defined by legislation. We are obligated to ensure that every single one of our students — and our staff — feels safe, welcome, respected and accepted at school. We make all decisions based on that. Every school in our division is required to abide by that."
She also said the school division never suggested or advocated that they would review scripture and decide what is appropriate or not.
The board originally requested the removal of one piece of scripture from the school's Vision and Purpose document in particular — which was being updated: "1 Corinthians 6:9-11, which states "9 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,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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."
The society reached out to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms and then went public with the issue on June 13, a move the school board says damaged a previously strong working relationship.
The board voted to meet again with CCA before June 27 in an attempt to bridge any gap on this subject. There is, however, a fast approaching deadline of June 30 to renew the partnership agreement between the school and the school board.
If an agreement cannot be reached then it is possible the board and the academy may sever ties.
Margel was concerned that decision may have been coming at the June 16 meeting and was pleased to hear that there was still time for discussion.
However, she did not know what that might mean for the school if it got to the point where they split from the division; in an "absolute worst case scenario," the school could be shut down.
"I really am hopeful that we can work it through, but I would really pray that we could have more time because we are speaking a different language and we need a translator to come in and translate what one another is saying," said Margel.
CCCA joined the BRSD in 2009. There are currently 180 students enrolled in the school from kindergarten to Grade 12 and draws students from Kingman, Camrose, Hay Lakes, Round Hill, Ryley, Tofield and the surrounding rural area.
As a member of the BRSD they are now a public school and subject to their bylaws and regulations, including the controversial Bill 10, which CCA signed on with. However, as an alternative program within the public school stream, the Margel said the society is responsible for overseeing the religious component of the school.
Following the meeting, Skori said she hoped an agreement could be reached.
"We are going to form a sub-committee and we are going to work with the board of the Cornerstone Christian Academy to hopefully coming up with the solution," said Skori. "People are looking for alternative programs and a Christian program, a lot of families are looking for something like that so it's a really good addition to our school division."