Raelians, school board clash

Court refuses temporary injunction. Secondary students confronted by group urging them to renounce Roman Catholic faith

The Gazette, Oct. 3, 2002

The Commission Scolaire de Montréal was refused a temporary injunction yesterday to stop members of the Raelian Church of Canada from trying to persuade its high-school students to renounce Roman Catholicism.

But a hearing is to be held tomorrow on the board’s application for a permanent injunction against the group.

The board went to Quebec Superior Court with its injunction request after Raelians targeted students of École Secondaire Jeanne Mance on Monday.

Members of the board were completely bowled over by video footage of Monday’s events, said Robert Cadotte, chairman of the school board’s pedagogical committee.

Along with literature informing students they can leave the church by signing an apostasy form, the Raelians distributed wooden crosses and urged students to burn them, Cadotte said.

“We find this absolutely unacceptable, especially because it targets minors. It’s an incitement of hatred or violence.

“The last time we saw this was in the United States with the Ku Klux Klan.”

Cadotte said some Catholic students were so profoundly offended, there is no saying what would have happened if it weren’t for teachers’ pleas to ignore the Raelians and stay calm.

“Stomping on or burning religious symbols of any religion – be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Sikh – is an invitation for a religious war,” Cadotte said.

“This might provoke some very violent reaction.”

The school board wants a court order that would prohibit Raelians from preaching not only at the doorsteps of schools but in their vicinity as well, Cadotte said.

“These are adults who go to schools to incite minors to burn crosses,” Cadotte said.

“And if anybody says to us that the Canadian Charter (of Rights) permits this, I’d say it doesn’t make sense. It’s as simple as that.”

Cadotte said the judge asked the Raelians to stop their activities around schools until the hearing tomorrow.

The Raelians did not return telephone calls yesterday.

But a statement issued Monday by the Raelian movement said the sect will target other high schools, colleges and universities in Montreal, Quebec City and Trois-Rivières during a planned two-week campaign.

The Raelians also plan marches – Sunday in Montreal and Oct. 12 in Quebec City – during which those who choose to renounce their Catholic faith will be invited to burn a cross “as a collective, pacifist gesture of protest” to make their apostasy official, the statement said.

The Raelian Church of Canada is an officially recognized religion in Quebec.

The Swiss-based hedonistic movement is based on the concept that extraterrestrials created humanity as a laboratory experiment.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday October 4, 2002.
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