Religion booted from Delta schools, programs remain in Vancouver

[Photo of Ian Bushfield.]
Ian Bushfield

By Ian Bushfield

On the About Us page: “The British Columbia Humanist Association has been providing a community and voice for Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the non-religious of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia since 1982. We support the growth of Humanist communities across BC, provide Humanist ceremonies, and campaign for progressive and secular values.

We are a registered charitable organization. Our mission is:

  • to promote the ideas and philosophy of secular humanism by all available means of education and communication;
  • to serve the educational needs of its members and others of humanistic, scientific and naturalistic outlook, in a democratic, non-dogmatic manner free from authoritarian doctrine;
  • to provide opportunities for fellowship, study and service at all levels of humanistic endeavour, and to advance the values and welfare of humanity in dedication to the continuing enhancement of human life through human effort and understanding;
  • to offer and provide meaningful ceremonies to members and non-members at significant times such as marriage and death; and
  • to elaborate and to express publicly Humanist positions on issues of concern to people, including values, morality and ethics.

Find out more about Humanism or the issues we support.

We are run by a democratically-elected volunteer Board of Directors and a small staff. We are funded entirely by donations from individuals who share our vision for a world based on reason and compassion.”

Some good news from the Vancouver Sun:

Volunteers from a global evangelical group are no longer welcome in Delta public schools.

That message was delivered recently by school superintendent Dianne Turner after The Vancouver Sun published a story about the Pais Project and its success in placing young missionaries in two schools — South Delta secondary and University Hill secondary in Vancouver.

The superintendent goes on to give a strong defence of secularism in BC schools:

“The Delta school district is strictly secular, operating on non-sectarian principles, and therefore promotion of religious views is prohibited in our schools,” Turner stated in a letter to parents, some of whom had complained after reading the Sun story. “We take this regulation of the School Act, Section 76, very seriously.”

The Pais Project is quoted in the article as “missionaries making missionaries” and provides Christian volunteers to tutor and coach sports teams.

The Sun also notes that volunteers from a similar Christian group Young Life Canada are active in Kitsilano Secondary School (mere blocks from where I live). From YLC’s website

We believe all kids have the right to know about God, to become informed about the person of Jesus Christ and who he said he was. Young Life leaders communicate the basics of the Christian faith in one on one casual conversations, at weekly club meetings and through our camping program.

The superintendent of the Vancouver School Board claims that the situation is being monitored and that no complaints have been received from parents yet. You can call or email superintendent Steve Cardwell at 604-713-5100 or scardwell@vsb.bc.ca

From the YLC website it looks like their program is quite active across BC and I doubt that the Pais Project was active only in Delta. The BC public school system is explicitly secular and we need to ensure that our students are not being proselytized to during school hours.

Originally published on the British Columbia Humanist Association website on March 5, 2012.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an AgnostikerAmerican Atheists,American Humanist AssociationAssociação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and AgnosticsAtheist Alliance InternationalAtheist Alliance of AmericaAtheist CentreAtheist Foundation of AustraliaThe Brights MovementCenter for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist IrelandCamp Quest, Inc.Council for Secular HumanismDe Vrije GedachteEuropean Humanist FederationFederation of Indian Rationalist AssociationsFoundation Beyond BeliefFreedom From Religion FoundationHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist InternationalHumanist Association of GermanyHumanist Association of IrelandHumanist Society of ScotlandHumanists UKHumanisterna/Humanists SwedenInternet InfidelsInternational League of Non-Religious and AtheistsJames Randi Educational FoundationLeague of Militant AtheistsMilitary Association of Atheists and FreethinkersNational Secular SocietyRationalist InternationalRecovering From ReligionReligion News ServiceSecular Coalition for AmericaSecular Student AllianceThe Clergy ProjectThe Rational Response SquadThe Satanic TempleThe Sunday AssemblyUnited Coalition of ReasonUnion of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.

Image Credit: Ian Bushfield/Devan Scott.

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