By Ada Slivinski, QMI Agency
VANCOUVER - Bibles may not be in the curriculum, but they are on the agenda for a B.C. board of education after a parent complained about the permission slip to distribute a Gideon Bible to Grade 5 students.
The Chilliwack board will discuss the matter at their next meeting on Nov. 13, chairwoman Louise Piper said.
Elementary schools in Abbotsford and Chilliwack have been sending home permission slips for Gideon Bibles for more than 50 years.
“Any change or review in the process would be considered by the Board of Education,” said Dave Stephen, manager of communications for the Abbotsford School District, in an e-mail.
But so far, any discussion of the issue has been behind closed doors.
“Results from recent years indicate this happens in about 30 to 40% of our elementary schools,” Stephen said, adding, “A minimal number of parents sign and request a copy.”
Until now, the program has continued without issue, but it recently came under fire after parent Richard Ajabu complained to B.C. Education Minister Don McRae that the permission slip sent home with his daughter was too promotional.
“We are willing to work with the school board to make any changes necessary to the consent cards if that would solve the problem,” said Kelvin Warkentin, communications director for the Gideons International in Canada, in an e-mail.
“The cover of the New Testament is indeed created as an attractive, eye-catching cover for students. Like any book that is designed for young readers, the cover has been designed to interest youth and create curiosity about what's written inside,” he said.
Even in what is generally considered to be B.C.’s Bible belt, officials and parents are reluctant to advocate for the program.
“I am a religious person, but I don’t think that it’s fair to all families because not everybody believes in a higher faith, so I don’t think they should be doing that,” parent Bethany ****ie said.
A spokesman for the education minister said it’s up to the individual boards of education to decide what materials are distributed. However, under the School Act, schools cannot teach religious dogma or creed.
B.C. school board reviews Bible distribution - Canada - Canoe.ca
Okay, I'm failing to see the problem here. They send out permission slips, they do not disseminate the information because the School Act prevents them from teaching religious dogma or creed. If you don't want your child to have one, you file said permission slip into handy file thirteen, no muss, no fuss, and you go about your day.
The permission slip is too promotional? Is it now a major offense to simply be offered something?