In a letter to the superintendent of the Abbotsford School District during spring break, the BC Humanist Association (BCHA) called for the distribution of Gideon Bibles and other religious materials in public schools be stopped. The BCHA calls the practice unconstitutional and in violation of the BC School Act.
Each year the teachers in the district distribute consent cards, provided by Gideon’s International, to grade 5 students. The District then distributes Gideon Bibles to each student who returns a signed card.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
Our public schools should be welcoming students of all faiths and none, they shouldn’t be in the business of selling God to kids. There are clear precedents going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada saying government bodies must remain neutral when it comes to religion. The District cannot hide behind consent cards, as even those have the effect of singling out students on the basis of their beliefs.
Tara MacRae’s children received brochures from Athletes in Action, an Evangelical missionary group that runs children’s basketball camps, in December 2015. After her complaint the District promised to review the distribution of Athletes in Action materials.
I find it shocking that in this day and age, a school district would allow the distribution of such brochures. It’s my view, consistent with the BC School Act, that religion should not be promoted by the public school system. It’s my hope that a public school district, as part of our provincial government, would not distribute materials (religious or not) that do not promote freedom of choice and that inherently promote discrimination.
Abbotsford is the one of the last districts in BC that still distribute Gideon Bibles in public schools. In 2013, neighbouring Chilliwack School District confirmed it had ended the distribution of Gideon Bibles after complaints from local parents, national secular organizations and the BCHA.
The BCHA has requested that if the Superintendent will not end the distribution of Gideon Bibles that he also permit the distribution of Godless Comics. The comics provide arguments for why some people don't believe in God.
Kona Morris, co-author of Godless Comics and co-founder and editor of Fast Forward Press:
I am absolutely shocked to hear about a public school district distributing Gideon Bibles, but I am so glad there is an organization that is there to help counter it, and I offer my complete support to the BC Humanist Association. If you are going to allow the distribution of bibles in schools, then it is crucial that the children are also exposed to materials such as Godless Comics in order to encourage and support the voice of natural human skepticism.
A copy of the BC Humanist Association’s letter can be found here.
The BCHA is requesting permission to distribute the “Are you scared of hell?” and “No thinking allowed?” editions of “Godless Comics,” which can be found here.
Bible distribution in Abbotsford schools draws criticism – Abbotsford News
Atheists rip Abbotsford School Board over biblical texts – The Province
Gideons versus Godless: Abbotsford public schools criticized for distributing bibles – CBC News
BC atheist group seeks end to Bible distribution in schools – Yahoo! News
End bible distribution or permit atheist comics – Canadian Atheist
British Columbia Humanists to school district: Stop bible giveaway or hand out godless comic books – Friendly Atheist
Painful Truth: Bible fight in schools can’t end well – Matthew Claxton for Langley Advance
Editorial: Cease distribution access - Abbotsford News
Letter: Leave the Bronze Age mythology behind - Abbotsford News
Where are they supposed to go? - Left at the Valley
Weekend with Shane Foxman - Bibles in Abbotsford Schools - CKNW
Kash Heed Show with Jas Kang - Pulse 107.7
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