Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gideon Bibles have no place in Canadian public schools

You'd think you wouldn't have to say that, eh? Well, apparently, it's not as obvious as I'd like.

“I'm not even a Gideon. I'm just a concerned Christian parent in a country that's still 70 per cent Christian,” said Rev. Mark Koehler, pastor at First St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Hanover, Ont.

“We've taken prayer out of school. We can't say certain greetings at Christmas time. We don't want further erosion of our Christian faith and heritage to happen.”

Our Christian faith? Who the hell are you to determine "our" Christian faith? Look here, Rev. Mark Koehler - I'm not a Christian. Millions of Canadians aren't Christian. And it's not up to you to determine whether or not they should be. You've got an entire Lutheran church to hand out Bibles at. Hand out a billion of them. Stand on the street. Go to the park. But Christianity has no place in public schools, not as an endorsed religion - and to any kid, if they're getting handed something during class time, that counts as an endorsement.

After all, the Gideons know this:

Gideons International has been placing [Bibles] in Canadian public schools since 1936.

The evangelical Protestant association based in Nashville, Tenn., is clear about why it hands out the free Bibles.

“Students that are between the ages of 10 and 18 are extremely impressionable,” the organization states.
Get 'em while they're young, eh? There's no way a 10 year old, impressionable child would assume the Gideons are just chillin' out. No, allowing this to happen is tantamount to government endorsement of a particular religion.

I remember a few things like this. My Grade 1 teacher, Mr. MacPhee, made us recite the Lord's Prayer each day in class, right after the national anthem. We were given Bibles in Grade 4 or 5, I can't recall which. They had a little bit at the back where you could sign if you chose to accept Jesus Christ as your personal lord and saviour. And they hung around until you signed the bastards. I probably still have that Bible somewhere.

But, there's hope:

The Bluewater debate comes after Iqaluit, Nunavut, banned distributing religious material on school property last month. Another district set precedent in the territory by allowing the handouts.


Rene Chouinard and his wife — atheists from Grimsby, Ont. — are awaiting a human rights hearing expected in March on their complaint against the Niagara school board.

After the parents of three complained, the board changed its policy to allow other religious groups to distribute material as well, but refused to allow him to hand out “non-belief” writings, he said. “It's a hangover from an earlier time,” Mr. Chouinard said of the Bible handout.


Catherine Fife, president of the association which speaks for 31 public boards in Ontario, said other districts are just catching up to changing realities. “We're well into the 21st century, and so we have to truly be honest about the demographics of the students that we're serving,” Ms. Fife said.

Ms. Fife's own board in Waterloo Region went through a bruising four-year battle over Gideon Bibles that ultimately ended with an overall ban, effective this year, on the advice of a lawyer. “The legal opinion for us proved to be a tipping point,” Ms. Fife said. “We were delving into a practice that could be seen as inequitable.”
 Inequitable is the nicest of words I have for these fucking sharks.

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