If Bibles Are Passed Out in School, Then This Family Wants To Hand Out Atheist Books

In Toronto, the Gideons want to distribute Bibles to fifth grade students. The District School Board of Niagara is letting them do it, too.

But Rene and Anna Chouinard, who have three kids in the district, are fighting back. They’re making an appeal of their own to the school board: If the Gideons are allowed to distribute the Bible to children, then they want to distribute copies of Dan Barker‘s Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.

Rene Chouinard (via Niagara This Week)

They’ve been at this for two years — the district has refused their wishes — but they’re finally getting a hearing from the government:

The couple, who are humanists and follow a religion-free way of life, took their case to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario on Aug. 20 and were granted a hearing on the issue. While no date has yet been set for the proceeding, the tribunal allowed the Ontario Human Rights Commission and Canadian Civil Liberties Association to act as interveners in two-days of hearings.

“This is a solid decision by the tribunal that is good for society,” Rene said after being granted a hearing. “We would like to see religion completely removed from the classroom.”

He said the Niagara school board should focus on education and not religion or other issues.

This should be an easy decision for the Tribunal. Tradition be damned, the Gideons shouldn’t be distributing Christian holy books to students (especially young ones)… but if they’re allowed in, there shouldn’t be any viewpoint discrimination. Let it all in or let none of it in. The smart move is to let parents deal with religion at home. Let the kids get a real education in school.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • LesterBallard

    Wouldn’t this go over well in the US.

    • http://twitter.com/SerafineLaveaux Serafine Laveaux

      It would where I live. I was at the high school the other day and there are crosses all over the walls in the front office. Feh.

      • LesterBallard

        I meant handing out the “atheist” books.

  • Sarah

    I remember getting these handed out to us in Elementary school and wondering why these old men were wasting money giving bibles to a group of kids that were already predominantly Christian.

    I suspect part of the reason they still get away with this is because members of the Gideons also tend to be members of the local Lions/Rotary/Optimists/etc. and fairly influential in the community (at least in my area). 

  • GodlessPoutine

    Dude!  I just posted about this on my blog!  We even have the same picture… but do you have the snazzy picture with Lot and his daughters… I think not.

  • Borax

    This happened in my hometown of Asheville NC.  A wiccan mother didn’t like when her child brought home a Gideon bible and eventually the local school board had to change their policy.

  • Proxer

    How has the district managed to “refuse their wishes” for two years?  I take it nobody filed a lawsuit?

  • GodlessPoutine

    On a more serious note, many of the “public” schools in Ontario are actually Catholic, but after looking at the website of the school Chouinard’s son attended, it looks like it really isn’t affiliated with the Church.  I’m not real sure what a “Catholic” public school would think of the Gideons handing out Bibles anyway…

    • http://twitter.com/kevinsky Kevin A

      There are two separate boards of education in Ontario, one public and one Catholic (and some private/separate schools). You get to choose which board your taxes support. The existence of the Catholic board is a relic from the confederation of Canada when there was more or less a Catholic board and a Protestant board. 
      The public board shouldn’t have any religion in it at all, but for some reason these Gideons sneak in there from time to time. 

      • GodlessPoutine

        Thanks for the clarification Kevin.  I went to a Catholic elementary school in Ontario for awhile as a kid but I’m still sometimes unclear.

        I’m not sure if there is necessarily a rule against religion in the public board – constitutionally speaking …  Maybe it’s a self-enforced rule, but we just don’t have the same concept of separation of State and Religion as they do in the US.

      • A Hangman on Tyre

        Just a minor correction – all tax dollars go into a general revenue pool.  The selection of Seperate School Board on the tax form only applies to who you can vote for in the School Board elections, not where you taxes go.

        • mjschmidt

           Just wondering if you have a citation for this. I am in Ontario (Oakville) and have been arguing with a Catholic friend on this issue. He claims you can specify where your taxes go. I’ve even emailed the provincial ministry of revenue, but still can’t find a direct answer.

  • http://twitter.com/DaveyJJ David Janik-Jones

    Again in Ontario? 

    I was one of the parents who acted to finally get the distribution of Gideons (and all religious texts) to grade five students out of the Waterloo Region District School Board halted, despite the attempts of two fundamentalist school board trustees to ignore the legal council they received. The legal opinion was clear … this wasn’t legally acceptable policy. Peel Region banned the Gideons more than a decade ago and the legal recommendations to Boards has always pointed to the facts that this is unacceptable based on the Ontario Human Rights Code, the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Ontario government policy for inclusiveness and anti-bullying, and in almost all cases local school board policies. I’m stunned that this is being attempted again in Toronto. In our efforts we were helped by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Jewish Congress, who both provided additional outside legal opinions that clearly pointed out that this sort of thing (distributing any religious text in the public school system) was going to be shown to be wrong. You can’t make children make public choices about their religion. School boards also had no way to ensure that their policies about distribution times and methods for bibles were adhered to. The simple fact is this: not distributing bibles (or other religious texts) to grade five students in no way affects a person’s (or family’s) right to practice their religion or believe whatever they want. Asking students in a pubic school system to make choices about religion does, however, violate my right as a parent and my children’s right to be free from religious influence and persuasion in publicly funded places.

    I have the legal opinions as PDFs and this issue is on public record with many school boards in Ontario. No way it’s going to get through.

    • GodlessPoutine

      Not sure if you have the Bluewater incident there were the Gideons were kicked out of that school board.

    • http://twitter.com/kevinsky Kevin A

      As the father of a boy who will be attending school in Waterloo region in a couple of years, I thank you! 
      If the issue comes up again on my watch, I’ll be looking for your documentation :)

    • primenumbers

      Thanks for the info. If you have those references we could see that’d be excellent.

  • Amy

    A while back a school secretary had a Bible verse in her email signature. I asked several school board members if it would be equally acceptable for a school employee to quote an atheist or a person of another faith to quote their holy book (such as the Koran).   They had her change it.  And this is in small-town, rural Indiana.

    • Tainda

      There are quite a few people where I work (a very liberal children’s hospital with 6k+ employees) with bible verses in their signatures.  It doesn’t bother me.  Lets me know who to avoid lol

    • Purple PJ

      I’d say that’s fine. Let them. Acceptance is not agreement.

  • A3Kr0n

    Poor kids are going to get buried in books. How about stick to school work and screw all the outside agenda?

    • Octoberfurst

       I’m with you A3Kron! Let’s keep religious literature OUT of our schools and let the kids concentrate on science, english, math, etc.

  • Aevanslaw

    To the lawyer for the school board who said that these materials are too harmful, sir have you ever read the bible?

    The encouragement of slavery, the oppression of women, and the order to kill our children if they are disobedient is far more harmful than any book which teaches children to think for themselves.

    And while I am on the topic, I am sick and tired of reading “new Christian baby born” in the newspaper anytime pious people have a child. THERE ARE NO RELIGIOUS BABIES. ONLY RELIGIOUS PARENTS. Stop brainwashing your children before they are able to think for themselves.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Edmunds/1065484532 Carlos Edmunds

      You are entitled to your opinions. but when you quote the content or context of the Bible, please give Biblical references and explainations to those very scriptures. Even if your opinion differs to that of those who have faith, make sure you know exactly where in the Bible you are basing your facts/opinions.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Those passages are far too numerous.  If you really want just google for something like “bible slavery”, “bible genocide” or “bible oppression women” and you’ll get plenty of references that you can explain away with “cultural context”.

      • pureone

        Judges 19:1-29 Man gives concubine to gang of men, who abused her all night until she died in the morning. He then chops her up and sends 12 pieces out into the land. So Slavery/oppression of woman, gang rape, torture, murder (by rape), dismemberment.

        You can look up the rest of the verses you want. There’s this thing called Google.

  • http://twitter.com/kevinsky Kevin A

    The Niagara School board isn’t in Toronto, it’s in Niagara region. 

  • Foster

    Schoolchildren being given Bibles to read?  Who will right this gross injustice?

    Richard Dawkins to the rescue!

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/may/19/richard-dawkins-king-james-bible

    Oh, wait…

    So, who’s right on whether kids should read the KJV Bible? Dawkins or Mehta? 

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      You’re missing the point. There’s nothing wrong with children reading the Bible. The point is that the school is allowing people to pass out Bibles in order to promote Christianity, but they won’t allow this family to pass out books promoting atheism. If one group can do it, then the other should be able to do it. There’s no reason for the school to favor one group over the other. Turnabout is fair play. Or, you know, they could just stop letting people hand out religious material to students and avoid the whole mess entirely.

      • Foster

        Anna, just because my point is not yours does not mean I am “missing the point.”  

        Mehta says:  ” Tradition be damned, the Gideons shouldn’t be distributing Christian holy books to students.”

        Dawkins says, he wants money to be given (even his foundations money) to buy Bibles for schools so children can learn about the Tradition he disagrees with.

        I’m glad you agree that children should read the Bible, because once we agree upon that, I would think the rest would follow naturally.  It is a document that has radically influenced the way people think and talk, which cannot be said about the atheist books.  The fact that the Bible is a cultural icon while those books are not is reason enough to reject them while accepting it on non-religious grounds.

        So I ask again (slightly modified to fit your critique) who’s right, Dawkins or Mehta? Should private organizations provide Bibles at schools so kids can read them and decide for themselves?  

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          You’re still missing the point. It’s not the place of the school to try to get children to adopt a particular worldview. These children are ten years old. This group isn’t handing out Bibles to try to educate them. They are doing so to try to convert them.

          I don’t care if a ten-year-old reads the Bible, but the school should not allow outside groups to come in and give children religious material that promotes one view over others, and if they allow one group, then they have to allow them all. They need to allow atheist books, Hindu books, Muslim books, etc.

          By the way, I read portions of the Bible in World Literature class in twelfth grade. That’s not illegal, nor should it be. There was no religious component, no attempt at proselytizing. There are perfectly legimitate reasons why an English class might read from a religious text, just like there are reasons why they might read from The Iliad, The Odyssey, Beowulf, and The Epic of Gilgamesh. But that’s not what’s happening here.

          • Foster

            Giving kids bibles does not equal “getting children to adopt a world view” any more than giving them the Oddysey is making them into pagans.  You may not agree with that, but I have addressed your point now.  The group’s motivations are irrelevant to the propriety of their actions.

            But you still haven’t answered *my* question regarding Dawkins, who believes Bibles *should* be made available.  It sounds like you would like to justify what Dawkins is doing while condemning what the Gideons are doing just because their motives are different. But if there’s nothing different in their actions, you can’t condemn one’s actions while applauding the other just because you disagree with the reasons why they do what they do.  That’s inconsistent.  So I ask again, is Dawkins wrong to suggest providing children with Bibles, as the Gideons are doing? 

            • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

              The group’s motivations are irrelevant to the propriety of their actions.

              Of course intention matters. This group doesn’t want to educate children about the Bible. They want to indoctrinate them to believe that it is true.

              And I don’t believe it is “proper” to hand out religious material to students, period. Certainly not in American schools. This story takes place in Canada, where is no separation of church and state, so I see no particular legal problem with what the Gideons are doing, as long as all other worldviews are allowed equal time. If they can hand out religious books, then other groups should be allowed to hand out atheist books.

              As for Dawkins, I don’t agree that outside groups should come in and give students Bibles. I’m not sure that’s what he was advocating, but regardless, there is no separation of church and state in the UK. However, if that’s the road they’re going down, then I think it’s only fair that people with all worldviews be given equal opportunity to try to sway students to their side.

            • nakedanthropologist

              And again, you’re still missing the point. Having a bible in a school library that is accessible to students without coersion is just fine and dandy. The children are free to read the damned thing as they please. Letting a religious group on a public school campus to distribute bibles while denying other groups with similar materials is blatant favoritism and illegal. If the Gideon’s are allowed to go onto campus and give away bibles, then atheists/Hindus/Moslems should also be allowed, in all due fairness of the law.

              • Foster

                Bible = cultural icon that makes people who read it, like Dawkins, literate which is the objective of schools

                Just Pretend = book nobody has ever heard of

                If atheists *had* a commonly referenced manifesto on par with the Bible or Qur’an, I’d be all for it, but “Just Pretend” certainly isn’t one.  That’s the objective difference which is neither “blatant favoritism” nor illegal (thank God*) in Canada.

                *See, that was what we call an “idiom,” which doesn’t always indicate belief in God on the speaker’s part, although in this case, I really was thanking Him.

      • Foster

        On the contrary, Anna, it was not established that the Gideons received preferential treatment.  Their motivations are irrelevant to the legality of their actions.  All I have been given to know is that for whatever reason, the atheist literature did not meet the bar necessary for being school material that the Gideons’ material did meet.If the bar for being worthy of a school endorsement for reading material, is a book’s contribution to the culture or its notoriety or contribution to the literacy of those who read it, then it’s easy to see how the Bibles would make the cut, for reasons Dawkins outlined, while the atheist lit, which I’ve never heard of (Have you? I’m actually curious whether that material is common literature. Please answer this question if you respond.), although I own a copy of “The God Delusion” and try to keep up with what’s out there, would not be worthy of inclusion by those standards.Religion permeates our culture. In the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Divine Comedy, the works of Shakespeare, all of those authors had theistic world views that they were attempting to impress on their readers.  Just as they are important to literacy, although we don’t have to believe all that they teach, the Bible is also important and its reading can be defended (and is) even by atheists like Dawkins.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          I never said that the Gideons received preferential treatment. I don’t know if they did, but it’s irrelevant. This is an outside group that aims to convert students to their religion. I do not agree that outside groups should come into public schools and attempt to convert other people’s children. It doesn’t matter if they’re Hindu, Muslim, Wiccan, Christian, or atheist. I don’t think it’s appropriate for the school to provide these groups access to public school children so that they can promote their agenda. That’s not the purpose of public education.

          Now, whether it’s legal is another matter. Again, this issue is muddied because we’re talking about different countries. What’s permissible in Canadian and British government schools would not be legally permissible in the United States. Regardless, I do not agree with handing out religious material to students. But if it is legal to do so in a certain country, then all groups should be allowed equal access.

          I don’t know why you keep focusing on reading the Bible. This isn’t about reading the Bible as part of the curriculum. It’s not wrong or illegal to study the Bible in literature or history class, nor should it be. But if that’s happening, it’s happening on the high school level, and it has nothing to do with religious groups handing out Bibles in an attempt to convert ten-year-old children.

          • Foster

            Anna, when you said, “If one group can do it, then the other should be able to do it. There’s no reason for the school to favor one group over the other” above, I took you to be complaining of preferential treatment toward the Gideons.  I see no other logical interpretation of your words, so your denial that “I never said that the Gideons received preferential treatment” and it’s being “irrelevant” is perplexing.

            Judging the legitimacy of someone’s or a group’s action by intent *is* a bad idea in this circumstance, your objections above and others notwithstanding.  These objections neglect the possibility that the school can use people’s actions (and donations) to achieve ends beyond or even against what those people were seeking.  The Gideons do mean to proselytize, but the school board may harness their action for their own ends, namely those of Dawkins: to educate.  And contrary to what you seem to be suggesting in your final paragraph, I think it is perfectly reasonable for grade schoolers to read the Bible for cultural literacy just like high schoolers at a (hopefully) higher level.

            • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

              Oh, I see. I’m just saying that if the school allows one group, then it needs to allow all groups. The situation as described in the article is unfair. I don’t know if the Gideons got exclusive access to the school’s children or not, but if they did, then that needs to be corrected. If they are allowed to pass out Bibles, then atheist groups should be allowed to pass out atheist tracts, Muslim groups should be allowed to hand out Korans, etc. That’s what I meant by not allowing preferential treatment.

              As for intent, I’m afraid I don’t agree that it doesn’t matter. A Muslim group coming in to educate a group of ten-year-olds about Islam is different from a Muslim group coming in to try to convert a group of ten-year-olds to Islam. Christians would kick and scream if that happened, yet they feel no compunction about going in to try to convert other people’s children.

              As for reading the Bible in elementary school, ancient mythology isn’t even studied until sixth grade (at least in the United States). I can see it being appropriate as part of a unit on ancient belief systems. But certainly not for younger children. The Bible isn’t even written on a level that very young children can understand. Elementary school is about learning the basics. If a middle school wants to do a unit on the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas and Upanishads, then I don’t see a problem with that, but it should be presented in an objective way, alongside other similar material. Not reinforced as something special and unique. 

    • Patterrssonn

      Maybe you’re right, maybe children should be taught about religion at a young age. They could be given access to a diverse collection of mythologies produced by religion and they could pick which one they like the best. My guess is Wiccanism would be pretty popular, tree spirits and all that, lot more fun than old frowny in the old testament.

    • Dan

      Foster, are you seriously conflating Dawkins supporting a Bible being in every school library with this school giving exclusive access to Christians to give literature to children? Nice try, but most of us here can easily see through your strawman. A book being available in the library for interested children to check out is very different than giving one religious group preference over others to give literature to children.

      Would you support a school who let Muslim groups come in and hand out Korans to students, but denied other religions any access?

      • Foster

        On the contrary, Dan, it was not established that the Gideons’ access was exclusive.  All I have been given to know is that for whatever reason, the atheist literature did not meet the bar necessary for being school material that the Gideons’ material did meet.

        If that bar is a book’s contribution to the culture or its notoriety or contribution to the literacy of those who read it, then it’s easy to see how the Bibles would make it, for reasons Dawkins outlined, while the atheist lit, which I’ve never heard of (Have you?), although I own a copy of “The God Delusion” and try to keep up with what’s out there, would not be worthy of inclusion by those standards.

        Yes, I do.  I own and have read a translation of the Qur’an as well, although I had to pay for mine.  I hope that is sufficient proof that I am not attacking a straw man, but defending the reasonableness of the school above.

        • Sean McCann

          There is no bar, idiot. It is a holdover from an overtly Christian-biased past. It is an anachronism now. 

          • Foster

            There’s no reason to insult me, Sean.  Let’s stick to critiquing the ideas rather than lowering ourselves to personal attacks.  I think there *is* a bar of what is culturally relevant and which, when read, will make one better able to communicate with other educated people.  In the Odyssey, the Iliad, the Divine Comedy, the works of Shakespeare, all of those authors had theistic world views that they were attempting to impress on their readers.  Just as they are important to literacy and should not be suppressed in schools, although we don’t have to believe all that they teach, the Bible is also important to promoting literacy and its reading and being passed out to students can be defended (and is) even by atheists like Dawkins.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Dawkins wants them in the library, along with a lot of other books.  Gideons wants to hand them out to each student, extra-curricular and exclusive.

      • Foster

        Thanks for addressing my question on the difference between what Dawkins is suggesting and the Gideons, Rich.  So you’re saying that it’s okay for a private organization to stock the school’s library with Bibles, but it’s not okay for them to hand them to the students because 

        1. Handing Bibles to students is extracurricular and stocking the library with them is not. 
        and
        2. Handing Bibles to students is exclusive (when you don’t let atheists do it) while stocking the library with both Bibles and atheistic literature is equal, which is what Dawkins would support.

        As to the first claim, I think that it is reasonable, in say an English class, to study the Bible as a work of religious literature, which would be curricular, and if that wasn’t possible to expose students to it as optional outside reading (extracurricular) because of its historical significance, which is a purely secular concern.  I don’t see how its being curricular or extracurricular is significant to the question.As for the second claim, you are correct in saying that the atheists are being excluded, but I disagree with the implicit claim that that exclusivity is unjust.  The important question is whether they are being excluded for a reason that can be justified on secular grounds.  I would say that that exclusion can be so justified, since even an atheist like Dawkins admits that the Bible is important to cultural literacy.  I don’t believe “Just Pretend” is important for cultural literacy.  I’ve never heard of it, and I don’t think most educated people have read it.  Not so with the Bible.  This might serve as sufficient grounds to exclude the atheist material from the library as well, if there were secular criteria that library books had to meet.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I think ‘extra curricular’ was a poor choice of words in haste on my part.

          Gideons isn’t handing out a book of literature, or a book that has influenced our culture.  They are handing out a religious text meant to proselytize.

          What Dawkins supports having in the library is a book that contains important literature and has influenced our culture.  And perhaps ‘influenced’ is too light.

          I think intent is important, and as much as I realize ‘intent’ is murky, and hard to prove, and makes for bad rules, I think the equivalent of Gideons handing out Bibles would be atheists handing out “The God Delusion”.

          • Foster

            Rich, for all of the reasons you mentioned for me above (thanks), judging the legitimacy of someone’s or a group’s action by intent *is* a bad idea in this circumstance, Anna’s objections above and others notwithstanding.  These objections neglect the possibility that the school can use people’s actions (and donations) to achieve ends beyond or even against what those people were seeking.  The Gideons *are* handing out a book of literature (I am surprised you would deny this) *and* they mean to proselytize, but the school board may harness their action for their own ends, namely those of Dawkins: to educate.  

            I may have mentioned above that I own a copy of “The God Delusion.”  It does great injustice to Aquinas and others and the ultimate boeing 747 argument (the only original-ish thing in the book) in my opinion neglects our ignorance of what conditions are like outside our universe, a satisfactory explanation of documented miracles, and traditional views of God as being infinitely simple (rather than too complex to hypothesize):  Dawkins is no philosopher, as he freely admits when confronted with philosophical arguments for God’s (or “god’s” as many here call Him) existence in public debate.  Nevertheless, I agree that the God Delusion has public stature enough that it should be allowed to hand it to students if Bibles are handed out.  I *would* object to the school board’s actions under those conditions, unless they had legitimate reason to believe the God Delusion was not famous enough or well written enough to aid the student who reads it in their secular education (which I don’t think is the case today: it’s a famous influential book, for now).  

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              The Gideons *are* handing out a book of literature (I am surprised you would deny this)

              I’m not denying that the bible is a book of literature.  What I’m saying is that the context of a proselytizing group handing it out directly to 5th graders who don’t have any need for bibles in their current curriculum is bigger than the actual content.

              If The Gideons wanted to donate bibles for the library, I would feel differently about it.

  • Blacksheep

    Are there atheist books that describe “free thought” etc. without criticizing other beliefs? Every Christian children’s book that I’ve read over the years tells some version of a Christian story. None of them say “atheism is wrong / sinful / misguided.”
    It’s a pretty big difference – The Christian books just stick to the Christian story, while as far as I can tell the atheist books shown above are critical of the faiths of others. 

    To be more specific: There are Christian children’s books that say things like, “Look at the creation that God made” or, “Jesus says to love everyone…”
    -
    Are there freethought children’s books that help kids deal with questions about life / nature / happiness, etc. without mentioning religion at all – or is the real goal to proselityze one belief system over another?

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      Every Christian children’s book that I’ve read over the years tells some version of a Christian story. None of them say “atheism is wrong / sinful / misguided.” It’s a pretty big difference – The Christian books just stick to the Christian story, while as far as I can tell the atheist books shown above are critical of the faiths of others. 

      You’re actually serious? Have you ever read a children’s book by an evangelical publisher? They present their beliefs as fact, not opinion. They explicitly claim that Christianity is true and the the biblical deity is the only real deity, while all other deities and religions are false and/or demonic, and that’s not being critical of the faiths of others?

      To answer your question, there are many secular children’s books which provide information about all religions and philosophies in an objective way. There are also a few (very few) atheist books that are critical of religion. It’s not an atheist book, IMO, unless it presents the idea that gods are not real.

      I have a few Listmania lists on this topic. One for comparative religion, which contains secular books providing information without promoting one worldview over another. Not atheist, but certainly appropriate for use by atheist families or anyone wishing to give their child objective information:

      http://www.amazon.com/Comparative-Religion-for-Young-Readers/lm/R3A83KM5OB37Q

      And one for books presenting the idea of atheism and critical thinking in positive ways for young skeptics. There are titles there that fit your criteria, including Dan Barker’s Maybe Yes, Maybe No:

      http://www.amazon.com/Best-Books-for-Young-Skeptics/lm/P7DK3U4TJND7

      • Blacksheep

        Thanks. I was curious mainly because the two being proposed in this article are critical. And they present their views as fact as well: God is make believe. That’s atheist proselytizing.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          Yes, it is. I don’t agree with atheist proselytizing in public schools, just like I don’t agree with Christian proselytizing. But of course if one group is allowed to hand out books promoting their worldview, then it’s only fair for atheism to be treated equally. Otherwise, religious privilege goes unchecked and some Christians feel like they have a right to try to indoctrinate other people’s children. I would never give an atheist book to someone else’s child. I would appreciate it if they didn’t give Christian books to mine.

          By the way, when I was looking on Amazon, I found a Christian apologetics books for children that does the exact thing you claimed they didn’t do. 

          As you get older, you will meet people, even kids and teenagers, who say they don’t believe in God at all. You must remember that there have always been these kind of people. The Bible calls them fools … If they don’t believe in God, they should have many good reasons for not believing. They usually answer by admitting that they have studied and travelled very little – but they just don’t believe in God. Those kinds of people can’t think very straight. The Bible says that Satan had blinded their minds.

          http://www.amazon.com/Fact-Fantasy-Christian-Apologetics-Children/dp/0962955906

          There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of books just like this.

      • Blacksheep

        I just re read your post – you say that “There are also a few (very few) atheist books that are critical of religion.”

        Are you actually serious? I’ve never seen one of those!

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          I should have specified. I meant children’s books. There are very few children’s books that even mention the possibility that deities might not be real, let alone say outright that they are imaginary.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            “The Magic of Reality”.  Not that I think there’s anything wrong with that.

    • Xeon2000

      Nice dodge there explicitly referring to “Christian children’s books” and not the bible (which was actually the focus of this article). We’re all well aware that the bible is over-flowing with viscous things to say about atheists and non-Christians. We know we’re going to burn in hell, you should stone us to death for being different, etc.

      • Blacksheep

        My original question was about children’s books.

        • chanceofrainne

          Yeah but the article is about Bibles.

          • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

            The article also mentions Just Pretend, which is an explicitly atheist children’s book. That’s the one that the family wants to hand out.

            • chanceofrainne

              The Gideons want to hand out Bibles.  The atheists want to hand out children’s books.  Which one is more appropriate for children?

              • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

                That would depend on the perspective of the parents. I don’t agree with handing out either title, quite frankly, but if the school is going to allow one, then it needs to allow the other.

                • chanceofrainne

                  Yep.

      • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

        It’s not true, either. Go into any Christian bookstore and peruse the children’s section, and you will find many, many books telling young readers that atheism is wrong, that other religions are false, and that anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus will go to hell.

    • Xeon2000

      Christian children’s books: like taking a free tour of Scientology where everyone is smiling and friendly and you deftly avoid all the scary cult stuff.

    • Patterrssonn

      “Are there freethought children’s books that help kids deal with
      questions about life / nature / happiness, etc. without mentioning
      religion at all”

      Yes, thousands of them in fact, just go to a bookstore you’ll find many examples of secular books for children that don’t mention religion at all. I highly recommend Pete the Cat.

    • Dan

       Blacksheep,

      it looks like you haven’t actually read many Christian children’s’ books. There are a lot  of anti-evolution, anti-environment, anti-other religion (which call other religions demonic), and anti-secular government Christian children books sold in Christian bookstores.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      My son was seriously freaked out when the flood story came up in a Berenstain Bears book.  Trust me, I was reading it as is, not adding my own commentary or inflection.  If you want a kid to love God, then don’t tell them that God decided to wipe out 99.999% of life on earth.  Trust me, the rainbow doesn’t make it better.

      are there freethought children’s books that help kids deal with questions about life / nature / happiness, etc. without mentioning religion at all

      Yes.  They’re called science books.

    • Armageddon

      You do realize this is an fundie athiest evangalistic site dont you ? High priest Hemunt,pastor Richard and all the enthusiastic drones spreading the gospel of do whatever you like,you only live once message. 

  • nash984954

    Gideons need to stop propagandising and distributing their WhollyBabble(which it is)to kids and allow folks to find their own inspirational books for their kids, and actually religion and gods shouldn’t even be mentionedto kids until their brain is fully physically developed, like when they’re 21, otherwise it is just indoctrination by whichever religion you’re born into. It’s no accident that Xians come from Xian families and Muslim followers come from Islamic families, etc, even though folks convert to other religions they were not taught about as kids. When kids are brought up, they are taught how to read and speak their native language and how to count, but the shit is that they are also taught about mythical fairytale gods and mythical fantasies of religion from ancient holy books, and they are told Aesops fables and Grimm’s Fairytales aren’t real, but they’re just as real as any crap out of the WhollyBabble book. The Holy Bible and other religious books should have a subtitle such as, Known Fairytales Propagated Now for 3000 years and More, but are No Different than Other Fairytales. Ha! I know, it is a long subtitle.
    The kids take in ALL they hear as their brain is like a sieve, whereby everything goes through, with no filter to stop the bullshit on religion, and kids take it in as all of it as being equally true. Kids need to learn how to speak and to count, but this push to teach kids shit like religion and gods, which  their brains aren’t mature enough to analyze is for shit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

    At my highschool in southern california, the Gideons could not be on school property to hand out bibles.  They were forced to wait at the outside of the school property on the sidewalk.  Most kids were able to avoid them. 

  • JeffreyP

    I went to school in Alberta and in grade 5 we too were given Gideon Bibles. Though I just doodled in it and threw it in the garbage on my way out the door. I wonder if they are still handing them out.

  • http://twitter.com/BdrLen Len

    Something about the shoe being on the other foot.

    • http://twitter.com/BdrLen Len

       How do you stay on top of stuff like this? By the time I notice it, you’ve already made a blog post…

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I know!

        I think Hemant must be in league with supernatural forces.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

          Jesus feeds me tips.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    If I were the couple I would also approach other local faith groups and get them to also petition that they are allowed to hand out copies of their holy texts as well. See how long the policy lasts when little Johnny and Jenny bring home a copy of the Quran or Talmud, or a book on Wiccan faith.

  • primenumbers
  • Sean McCann

    I burned my copy on the school lawn as soon as I received it. To their credit, my teachers did not try to punish me. 

  • Pheldespat

    I’d distribute Qur’ans.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    According to this article 
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/atheist+biased+board+Gideon+Bibles/7167213/story.html

    In 2010, soon after Mr. Chouinard’s fight hit the local press, Niagara school officials drafted a policy opening the door for students to receive Korans, Torahs and even Books of Shadows. The literature was to be approved by the district’s director of education, the school’s principal and by a written permission slip from the student’s parents.

  • Purple pj

    I’m a believer and follower of Christ and I agree with you. They either don’t need to be handing out the Word to those who haven’t asked for it, or they need to let everyone hand out what they want. Descrimination is descrimination.

  • Sam Spade

    Funny how these atheists are not protesting the Muslim infiltration of Valley Park Middle School in Toronto, Ontario. Every Friday the school cafeteria is turned into a prayer room for Muslim students where an Imam leads the children in prayer and recites from the Koran. Worse still, the boys sit at the front, the girls sit at the back, and girls whop are menstruating sit right at the back. So not only do we have a major religion allowed to be practised in our public school system (which is supposedly against all the rules), but gender discrimination is allowed as well. The Toronto District School Board gave the lame excuse that the children in school don’t return there after they have visited the local mosque on Friday afternoons.

    Why aren’t our atheist friends demanding to have their book placed alongside the Koran in other locations? Or do they feel that picking on Christianity only is less hazardous to their health?


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