Human rights case seeks equal billing for religion and atheism in schools
Posted by Mr DoctorE on August 30, 2012
Arguing that it is “biased” for his children to be given free Gideon Bibles in class but not free atheist literature, an Ontario father is launching a human rights case that aims to drive the Gideons out of the province’s public schools.
“I don’t think 10-year-old kids should be expected to make decisions on which theological concept is correct,” said Rene Chouinard, an active secular humanist in Grimsby, Ont., and the father of two school-age children.
Since 1964, the Gideons have offered free red Bibles to Grade 5 students across Canada — provided the students have parental consent. In the Niagara Region, where Mr. Chouinard lives, this takes the form of permission slips distributed by the student’s teacher.
In a protest move in 2010, Mr. Chouinard offered to match the Gideons’ offer with a selection of two non-religious texts.
He said it was never his intention to distribute truckloads of atheist literature. Rather, he just wanted the school board to “show its hand,” he said.
“It was just so we would have some evidence that [the school board] is not being neutral,” he said.
Indeed, when school officials rejected his offer, Mr. Chouinard took his case to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.