As Richard Dawkins has frequently pointed, out there is no such thing as a Christian child, a Muslim child, or even an atheist child. Children should be free to make their own decisions about whether or not to follow a particular religion. According to the Toronto Sun, Rene and Anna Chouinard, who are atheists, would like Just Pretend: A Free Thought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist distributed to Grade 5 students in the Niagara area.
The Chouinards’ request gives the impression that they want grade five students to learn about atheism along with the three Rs; however,
The fight began after the Chouinards’ refused to sign a consent form for their daughter to distribute Gideon International Bibles at her school.
They then unsuccessfully sought to obtain permission to distribute Just Pretend, citing other groups should be allowed to have their publications distributed in Niagara schools as well.
Now, Rene and Anna Chouinard have appealed the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, which has agreed to give them a hearing. The case should never have gotten this far. The Chouinards don’t really want Just Pretend distributed in schools. They “would like would like to see religion completely removed from the classroom.” As Rene Chouinard says,
the Niagara school board should focus on education and not religion or other issues.
Of course, the school board does not agree:
a board lawyer told the tribunal that no religious group was discriminated against and “Just Pretend” contained content that was “inappropriate” for distribution.
The lawyer is wrong: the Christian religion gets an advantage when the Gideon Bible is distributed in publicly funded schools. Schools should focus on the kind of education that allows students to think critically about religion/no religion and make their own decisions.
Note: Jeremiah Sabadoz, at Canadian Lemon, has a slightly different take on this topic.