Chilliwack Bibles Distributed In Schools Draw Complaint To Province

A persistent parent in Chilliwack, B.C. has appealed to the province's education minister to stop schools from handing Bibles out to Grade 5 students.

Richard Ajabu has written to Education Minister Don McRae asking him to stop the Chilliwack School District from distributing Bibles from Gideons International to students, an activity that is permitted if parents sign a permission form, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Ajabu has also asked the minister to look into a decision by school trustees to continue the distribution of Bibles. The school board decided to keep the practice in a private meeting with the superintendent earlier this month, the Chilliwack Times reported.

Ajabu feels that distributing free copies of the Bible to students violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but adds in his letter that "might be overkill so I will not try to do that now."

The complaint was first raised in mid-October when Ajabu's daughter came home with a brochure from Gideons International that carried the phrase: "It is often in Grade 5 that a child begins asking the big questions of life: what is right and wrong, what is the purpose of life, and what happens when we die," the Chilliwack Times reported.

"My child was given religious marketing material with a photo of a free gift (attractive red "answer book" plastered with smiling kids), intriguing (and potentially frightening) questions, branding and graphic art," Ajabu wrote to District Parents Advisory Council president Gord Ayers.

Ajabu went on to write that it was not fair to students of other faiths to see Christian religious texts being marketed in schools.

Ajabu has received "nasty letters" from people who disagree with him, with one telling him to go back to his "home country" and practice his religion there, the Vancouver Sun reported.

This is not the first time a school board has gotten complaints over Bible distribution. In April, An Ontario school board banned the Gideons from distributing Bibles. The board was criticized for betraying Canada's Christian heritage.

In January, the school board in Hamilton, Ont. also discontinued the practice of Bible distribution.