LETTER: Debate on Gideon bibles is moot

Board decision prevents freedom of access legal challenge

Unfortunately, letter-writer Dan Cameron (“Gideon Bible issue is a farce”, Abbotsford News, July 1) has somewhat missed the crux of the issue of the Abbotsford Board of Education’s terminating the distribution of consent forms to students for parents to sign that would end up with non-school district produced information being sent to students home through the medium of elementary children.

First of all, the book that Mr. Cameron refers to only contains elements of history of people in one particular part of the world going back about 3,000 to 4,000 years with some speculative thinking on what may have transpired in the millennia before that time period.

Secondly, the book and its contents do not violate the BC School Act due to the “atheistic community” wanting a “fish story” monopoly in public schools.

The BC School Act states: (1) All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. (2) The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school.

The Board of Education’s decision to rescind its policy on the matter of distribution of materials from outside groups was based on the potential abuse of the policy by groups whose perspective may be offensive to the general public and electorate in the City of Abbotsford.

The BC Humanist Society could be regarded as the catalyst for the Board of Education undertaking this rescinding action as this issue could have become a Pandora’s Box leading to some hotly debated controversy.

There are over 4,300 religions around the world, with Christianity having 43,000 denominations worldwide in 2010 according to the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary up from 500 in 1800 and 39,000 in 2008 and this number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2025.

The board’s rescindment of its policy prevents action by any group of trying to make the issue of access through students a principle of freedom of access by pursuing the issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, as witnessed in Surrey back in 2002 with primary teacher James Chamberlain seeking permission to used three books in his Kindergarten class that presented families where both parents were of the same sex. He and the BCTF won the case, much to the chagrin and expense of Surrey School District and its taxpayers.

Evolution is a theory as is Creationism both with advocates that, in some cases, are so dogmatic in their belief that they will not even listen to someone advocating or explaining the other theory. So let’s not get too wrapped up in “my theory is better than your theory”; we’ve had far too much conflict on this planet over theories.

Debates on this issue are moot and need to be terminated in this medium.

We need to expand more energy on getting better financial support for our educational system for, one day, the Abbotsford Board of Education is going to have its decades-long prudent fiscal management result in its accumulated surplus disappear having to bail out the operation of our school system from provincial financial shortcomings.

G.E. MacDonell