Humanist group declares victory after Superintendent agrees schools ‘will no longer distribute’ religious materials to students.
Abbotsford’s school district will no longer give Bibles and other religious tracts to public school students, according to the B.C. Humanist Association.
The secularist group, which led a campaign against the practice, said it had received confirmation of the policy change from the district on Tuesday.
“The district will no longer distribute the Gideons Bible or other religious materials to students,” the association attributed to Superintendent Kevin Godden.
The association wrote a letter to Godden in March arguing that allowing teachers to hand out Christian proselytizing materials including Gideons Bibles was “discriminatory against minority religious and non-religious worldviews.”
The district is one of the last in the province to allow groups to attempt to convert students attending its schools. In 2013, Chilliwack School Board forbade similar Bible handouts in its schools after protests from a parent, Metro reported.
“This is a clear recognition that B.C. public schools should be secular and inclusive,” said the Humanist Association’s executive director Ian Bushfield, in a statement. “It’s a sign to parents and students that they are welcome in Abbotsford whether they’re Christian, Muslim, Sikh, atheist or otherwise.”
The district only distributed Bibles and other religious materials to students whose parents signed a consent form supplied by Gideon Bibles, but the association said that risked singling out students whose parents didn’t agree.
Abbotsford schools to stop handing out bibles
The last public school district in B.C. to distribute religious material in classrooms will stop handing out bibles, according to a group pushing to have the practice ended.
The B.C. Humanist Association asked the Abbotsford School District in March to stop distributing bibles, arguing that the district should not be using public school resources to promote a religious world view.
In a news release this week, the association says it has been informed by the Abbotsford School District that it will no longer distribute religious materials to students.
Ian Bushfield, executive director of the B.C. Humanist Association, said it is believed that Abbotsford was the last public school district in B.C. that was handing out Gideon Bibles in classrooms.
He said the move is a clear recognition that the province’s public schools should be secular and inclusive.
Dave Stephen, a spokesman for the Abbotsford School District, declined an interview about the decision, and instead provided a brief letter sent to the association on Tuesday from Abbotsford’s Superintendent of Schools Kevin Godden.