The issue of pro-life versus pro-choice has been raised in a Catholic High School in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Let me tell you first what happened:

After a pro-life rally at the school one student placed a red piece of tape on her uniform with the word “life” on it as a silent stand for the pro-life position. The school allowed this to happen. Shortly following this event a different students decided to place a green piece of tape on her uniform with the word “choice” on it as a stand for the pro-choice position. The school requested that the student remove the tape and when she (and several others) would not they send them home on a two-day suspension. Social networking sites are now railing against the Catholic school board and religion in general for being too one-sided and exclusive. Many are calling this grade 10 student a hero and are using this as evidence of the hypocrisy present within religion (i.e. that the pro-life position was supported but the pro-choice position was not).

Here are my thoughts: if there was not public support for a Catholic school board then there would not be a Catholic school board that is publically funded. That being said, the fact that there is public support for this separate school system means that many families within Ontario want to have their children educated within institutions that are governed by specific religious (Catholic) morals and ideals. While we can debate whether or not suspensions were the best way to handle this pro-choice campaign, I think that we ought not to be surprised that the Catholic school did react to a viewpoint that they do not support. If they had not reacted they would be delegitimizing their very existence. Who would support a separate school system that was not really distinct in any particular way.

Catholic schools are inherently pro-life and so campaigns against this ideal (i.e. pro-choice) are not welcome there. Lets get real practical about this: when during election times have you seen a Liberal candidate hanging a sign for the local PC or NDP candidate in his constituency office window? Never! Neither would the Liberal candidate tolerate a staff member in his/her office displaying PC or NDP literature or promotional materials. Consider this: when have you seen the Montréal Canadians hockey team come onto the ice wearing Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys? In each case the institution is simply being true to what it is; this is a matter of identity and not a matter of closed mindedness or hypocrisy.

Expressing your viewpoint is different than creating a campaign for something. I can assure you that students at Emergency Ministries do not all share the same viewpoint on many issues (including the pro-life and pro-choice viewpoints). Students are welcome no matter what viewpoint they hold. Moreover, I have had conversations with students about a variety of issues where their thoughts differ from what I would consider orthodox Christianity. They are still welcome at Emergency Ministries and I am more than happy to have them there. However, we will never allow campaigns for pro-choice or for any other position that we cannot support or endorse. This is not hypocrisy; rather, this is our unique identity. We have looked at the world, examined our faith, and have decided that this is who we are.

What do you think?

You can check out the news report on this at