Chilliwack School Board policy deemed discriminatory by secularists

The British Columbia Humanists Association is calling on the Chilliwack School Board to reverse its policy of distributing Gideon Bibles in local public schools.

The BC Humanist Association, a provincial association representing secular values, is voicing concern over the Chilliwack School Board’s decision to uphold a policy permitting Gideon Bibles to be distributed to Grade 5 students.

The Board recently reviewed administrative regulation 518, which states that “The Board approves the distribution of Gideon Youth Testaments to Grade 5 pupils with parental consent,” after complaints were raised by local resident Richard Ajabu. Ajabu states the policy endorses “religious marketing” and “indoctrination.” The decision to maintain the policy was made during a recent in-camera “superintendent’s conversation,” rather than at the regular public board meeting.

“It’s astonishing that the Chilliwack Board would make this decision behind closed doors in light of the recent controversies in Ontario,” said British Columbia Humanist Association Executive Director Ian Bushfield in reference to recent protests over Gideon Bible distributions in the Niagara, Bluewater, and Grand Eerie School Districts.

Bushfield calls the decision “discriminatory,” stating “It suggests that the only view welcome in Chilliwack public schools is Protestant Christianity.”

The BC Humanists are calling for the Chilliwack School Board to immediately reverse their policy and to follow the Public Schools Act of British Columbia, which states that schools should be operated “on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles.”

Since 1984, the BC Humanist Association has represented atheists, agnostics, and secular humanists across the province. Its vision is a secular society based on the universal values of reason and compassion.

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