Published On: Wed, Jan 18th, 2012

School bibles draw parent complaint

A long-standing tradition that sees some schools handing out bibles to students should be scrapped, says a P.E.I. parent.

For 46 years, a non-sectarian religious group has been offering free bibles to Island schools for grade five students. There is no discussion of religious issues in the classroom in connection with the handout, and many schools accept the offer.

The offer came as a surprise to Michael Arsenault, whose daughter attends L. M. Montgomery Elementary School in Charlottetown. Last week Arsenault received a notice from the school asking him to fill out a form if he wanted his daughter to opt out of getting a bible.

Arsenault called the school board.

“I’ll be held responsible for my child’s belief system, not the schools,” Arsenault told CBC News Tuesday.

“I’m not against religion, any form or fashion. We’ve got a wide variety of Bibles here. We even went as far as to spend money to buy an English version of the Qur’an, I just don’t like how the schools are getting involved in handing out these religious books.”

National issue

The question of whether Bibles should be handed out in schools is one that has been asked across the country.

School boards in Ontario have been left on their own to sort out the question, after Premier Dalton McGuinty passed responsibility for the question to them.

Eastern School District superintendent Ricky Hood says there’s nothing in P.E.I.’s School Act that prevents schools from handing out religious material. He has never heard a complaint about it until now.

“I think there’s only one line in the School Act, and it talks about being nonsectarian, not being restricted to a particular religious group,” said Hood.

“I don’t think anyone has pointed this out as contravening anything in the act for the past 30 years or so. I think if there was a local school group that said we don’t want access to any of the Bibles, then we would abide by that.”

Hood said participation in the program is up to school principals, and any complaints should go to the local Home and School.

(CBC News)

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