BC Sessional Papers

PETITION. British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1876

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 39 Vic. Petition—School Tax. 725
To the Honourable ihe Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia:—
The humble petition of the undersigned Catholic residents of the City of Victoria,
1. That, inasmuch as the so-called unsectarian school system is a flagrant violation
of the liberty of conscience, the Catholic portion of this community have but reluctantly submitted to a general system of taxation, a portion of which is set apart for the
benefit of the so-called unsectarian schools. But now that it is intended to levy a
special school tax, your Petitioners view with mistrust and alarm a measure which they
deprecate as both unjust and oppressive.
2. A system of education can never be unsectarian. If it excludes the profession of
Christianity, it is anti-christian; if it does not comprise the belief in God, it is godless
and atheistic; if it includes the reading of the Protestant version of the Bible, it is
Protestant. Consequently, your Petitioners cannot in conscience send their children
to the so-called unsectarian schools, wherever they have schools of their own.
3. It is, therefore, an act of injustice to exact money from Catholics for the support of schools from which they derive no benefit; and it is an.act of oppression to
compel them, though indirectly, to countenance an educational system which they
4. The experience of other countries tends to prove that unsectarian schools are the
chief propagators of religious scepticism, unbelief, and infidelity. Where there is no
religion, there can be no conscience; where there is no conscience, there can be no
morality; where there is no morality, secular learning is but an' additional tool for the
commission of crime; and thus a godless system of schools saps the very foundation of
even civil society.
5. While we would cheerfully subscribe to a school system which would provide
for the education of the children of the poor, we cannot endorse the present arrangement, by which wealthy citizens, whose first and foremost duty it is to pay for the
education of their own children, are suffered to use, without either shame or remorse,
the public moneys extorted from us and from the poor. The State ought not to provide
for the instruction of the rich, without first providing for that of the destitute, and it is
a notorious fact that many of the latter are growing up in ignorance and wickedness.
6. By disclaiming the monoply of education, and by leaving the instruction of the
youth to the competition of private schools and teachers, the State will both raise
higher the present standard of instruction and prevent the useless squandering of a
great portion of the public revenue.
7. The unsectarian school system being both unjust and oppressive, and the
Catholic portion of this City being at great expense for the maintenance of their own
schools, your Petitioners humbly pray that they may not be included in the School
Tax Act which is or which will soon be before the consideration of the House.
(Signed) Charles J. Seghers,
Bishop of Vancouver Island,
And 63 others.
Vietoria, April 28th, 1876,


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