Atheist Family in Ontario Finally Puts an End to Public School Distribution of Holy Books

Last year, I wrote about how, in Toronto, the Gideons wanted to distribute Bibles to fifth grade students and how the District School Board of Niagara was letting them do it.

Rene and Anna Chouinard, who have three kids in the district, attempted to put a stop to that for years, beginning in 2009. They told the school board that if the Gideons could distribute Bibles to children, then they should be able to distribute copies of Dan Barker‘s Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. That year, the school board ended up saying no to both kinds of books.

The year after, the board changed their policy to allow for the distribution of all religious materials. The Chouinards said Fine! Let us distribute our atheist books!… and the school board said no.

Huh?! The Bibles were okay, but the atheist books were not? What gives?

Only last year did a court finally agree to look at the case.

Rene Chouinard

It took a year, but the Chouinards have finally prevailed! The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has said this is clearly an example of discrimination against atheists:

In this case, there is no question that the first version of the policy, permitting students to receive literature in the public schools from one creed, but not others, violated the norm of substantive equality. It promoted prejudice and stereotyping by suggesting that non-Christians, including atheists, are less worthy and valuable than others of having their creed included in the public school system. It perpetuated historical disadvantage of non-Christians, including atheists, in public institutions.

The school board has agreed to abide by the decision.

Hats off to the Chouinards for their work calling out unfair Christian privilege. It took years for victory to emerge, but they forced the change and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

(via My Secret Atheist Blog)

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.

  • Mike Smith

    You talk crap friend or you just have not experienced life at all. Don’t believe all you believe for that to can be false.

  • 3lemenope

    I’m curious, why do you assume that a person who comes to a different conclusion than you have has not “experienced life at all”? It is entirely possible for a person to read all the holy books in all the world and find nothing of value for them, just as it is possible for a different person to find something worthwhile for them in any or all of those books.

  • athiestsarehomos

    burn in hell.

  • Speedwell

    What if the parents are decent, hardworking people but the children are interested in sketchy get-rich-quick schemes that are thinly disguised larceny? That’s a good analogy to what you propose. Should the parents teach their children to cheat at cards, switch price tags in the store, and forge checks, just in case they might want to know how later?

  • Speedwell

    Calling reality a “fantasy life” seems to be the definition of your problem. Imagine what would happen if religion was made part of school. Schools have educational standards and wouldn’t allow just any religious free-for-all. What if your religious viewpoint was one of the ones that wasn’t considered for the educational standards, because little Kumar’s parents and little Aisha’s parents and little Chaim’s parents were on the board? Would you consider your child to be harmed by being taught a religion that you didn’t agree with? Why or why not?

  • OhioAtheist

    How very loving and mature of you. Bigotry is not a virtue.

  • Speedwell

    You’re going to have to prove there is such a thing first, aren’t you? Do try to stay on topic.

  • Speedwell

    My husband comes from Northern Ireland. Wow, Christianity has done so much for that country and its people (at least the ones that weren’t too close to a bomb or a bullet) that he and his family refuse to darken the door of a church now.