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.
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.