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Ban on Gideon Bible handout at public schools sparks torrent of hate mail

Published On Sun Apr 08 2012

A stack of New Testament Bibles sit on top of boxes loaded with other Bibles waiting to be shipped out of the warehouse at the Gideon office in Guelph on Wednesday, October 11, 2006. Darren Calabrese/Guelph Mercury

Colin Perkel The Canadian Press
A rural Ontario public school board’s decision to ban distribution of Gideon Bibles to its young students has unleashed a torrent of threatening calls and hateful emails directed at trustees.
Some messages to the Bluewater District School Board express racist sentiment and question trustees’ patriotism.
“When are you ‘politically correct’ idiots, with your heads buried in the sand, going to realize that every action you take to destroy Canadian heritage …?” one email began.
“Allowing newcomers to Canada the ability to walk all over our heritage has got to stop before they carry us into the realm of a warring nation like the one they often left behind,” another writer said.
The invective has unnerved some trustees as they prepare to formalize the ban on distribution of all noninstructional religious materials prompted by a parent’s complaint about the decades-old tradition of offering free Gideon Bibles to Grade 5 students.
Trustee Fran Morgan called the “onslaught” of messages “really disturbing,” and said it has made her uneasy about driving the 30 kilometres to board meetings at night by herself.
“I really do feel threatened by it,” Morgan said from Griersville, Ont. “It’s been very unpleasant.”
The Bluewater board, with more than 18,000 students in 53 schools across a broad territory around Owen Sound up to Tobermory, is expected to formalize the ban at its meeting April 17, following in the footsteps of several other boards across Canada.
Ban proponents argue distribution of the Bibles has no place in a secular school system, and that it potentially violates human-rights legislation.
The board nixed the idea of allowing any religion to hand out materials on the basis it would suck up scarce resources and could be legally risky.
One writer blamed the decision on “a handful of non-Christian elected officials.”
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