The Chilliwack school board is facing opposition to a proposed distribution-of-materials policy that makes no mention of religion or Bibles.
Trustees will vote on the policy Tuesday night, but a group that represents atheists, agnostics and secular humanists plans to speak against it.
"This new policy doesn't address any of our concerns," said Ian Bushfield, executive director of the BC Humanist Association, in a press release. "In fact, it raises new questions about religious advertising in Chilliwack schools."
Bushfield's Vancouver-based organization is concerned the proposed policy could still allow Gideons International to give out free Bibles at local public schools.
The draft policy makes no mention of religion or Bibles, saying only that "all material and information distributed within or through Chilliwack School District schools shall be in the best interests of students."
Authority to distribute the materials of recognized charities and other educational or community-service organizations would rest firmly with the superintendent under the new policy.
At her discretion, she would also be able to direct school principals to get written parent consent before certain materials were handed out.
In that case, the organization in question would provide the necessary number of consent forms, but school principals would be responsible for handing them out.
It was a parent consent form that first touched off the controversy about what should and shouldn't be handed out at Chilliwack's public schools last October.
Local parent Richard Ajabu complained to the district after his daughter was handed a permission form for a free Gideons Bible at her elementary school.
He said the brightly coloured brochure constituted "religious marketing."
The school board did vote to delete an anomalous administrative regulation that specifically endorsed the Gideons activity in November.
But Ajabu expressed concern that a new policy governing all materials handed out at schools could still allow for the Bibles unless the school board explicitly banned the Bibles with a reference to a part of the BC School Act that states schools "must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles."
No such reference is included in the draft policy trustees will vote on Tuesday.
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