The Abbotsford school district is once again the focus of controversy for distributing consent cards to Grade 5 students to receive a Gideon Bible, with parental consent.
It’s a dated practice that understandably falls under greater scrutiny in a secular public education system.
The issue is fraught with misunderstanding and assumption, such as the perception that the same access doesn’t exist for other faiths. It does, although apparently none have pursued it. Nor are schools “teaching” Christianity. Religious instruction is not allowed in the public school curriculum. The Bibles are picked up at school offices, not classrooms, so the argument that participating children will be ostracized has little foundation.
The BC Humanist Association, which has rekindled the debate, is not attempting to eliminate Christianity over other beliefs. It maintains that such distribution of any religious texts is unconstitutional, albeit in the same breath asks for equal opportunity to distribute atheist literature in schools, something which would only fan this fire.
The Abbotsford school district should abandon all such distribution access, regardless of who is asking, as most other districts in the province have done in past years – a course wisely taken last year by the Chilliwack board of trustees.
There are private school options for families who wish to have a religious component in their children’s education, and, of course, myriad faiths including Christianity are free to practice their religion at home and attend their own churches and other places of worship to observe their beliefs. That, too, is enshrined in the Canadian constitution.
The easiest and fairest way to deal with the distribution of religious material in public schools is simply to cease doing so.