Key words: Distributing Bibles to Students: Gideons, Richard Ajabu & the Chilliwack School District
THE DEBATE: Is it right for the Gideons’ Society to be allowed by the Chilliwack School District to distribute New Testaments with parental consent?
|Richard Ajabu from his Twitter webpage|
After the genocide of millions of religious believers (Protestants, Catholics, Anabaptists, Muslims, Jews) and others (scientists, humanists, etc) in Middle-Ages Europe, freedom of religion slowly emerged along with the “Enlightenment”. It took centuries of well-fought battles to establish tolerance of belief for citizens in Western countries. The separation of Church and State was another achievement that required blood, sweat and tears for many years.
Each religion that has ever been co-opted by the State ends up persecuting those who do not buy into the official government-sanctioned belief system, whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or Communist. Our secular Western countries need to safeguard the “Level Playing Field” that allows citizens to openly and freely practice and promote their religions without fear of recrimination from the State or other non-tolerant people. Today, if you persecute Muslims, Christians, or humanists, tomorrow it will be another group who will persecute you. We need to protect freedom of conscience and religion.
In a free and open society, the Gideons should be able to distribute their Bibles with parental consent. Others should be able to do the same with their religion or philosophy. It is healthy for children to learn about the various belief systems around them. They can choose whichever religion or philosophy they like as they grow older. It takes a lot of effort, but it is time well spent.
As I see it, both sides of the debate need to chill out and allow others the freedom to share their philosophical / religious views. Elementary and high schools ARE the right place to learn about the different religions and philosophies of this world. More knowledge = better ability to navigate the waters of our complex society. In today’s ever-changing world, we all need to be better equipped to “love our neighbours as ourselves” and “do to others like we want them to do to us”.