During my work with the BC Humanist Association last year, we managed to help raise awareness of how the longstanding tradition of Gideon’s distributing Bibles to grade 5 students continued unabated in the Chilliwack and Abbotsford School Districts. This process continued despite the BC School Act requiring all schools be “strictly secular” and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms being widely interpreted as protecting the freedom from religion.
Nevertheless, parents in the ironically named Godson Elementary School in Abbotsford were shocked by the distribution of Bibles to their children during class time. This violates the District’s own policy, which permits the distribution of religious propaganda following a consent form.
Beverly Egan, one of the parents, says her son was offered a Bible in class despite a permission slip never coming home.
The District and School Board deny this complaint and say the procedure was followed with a total of six students returning slips for Bibles in the school.
That so few students are requesting Bibles raises another question of why this policy continues to be defended besides to attempt to put social pressure on other families to convert to the dominant religion?
Hopefully Egan and the other parents can receive some support from groups like the BCHA and their Fraser Valley affiliate.
They likely have grounds to take their case to BC’s Human Rights Tribunal, especially after the Chouinard’s win against the Niagara School District’s attempt on the issue of Gideon Bibles.