When Richard Ajabu's daughter brought home a consent form from the Gideons, asking if he approved of her receiving a free Youth Testament, he could have crumpled up the form and been done with it. But his aversion to the Bible is so strong that he is offended that a Christian group is even permitted to offer it to his child.
He's not just a voice in the wilderness, mind you: he has the support of the B.C. Humanist Association, a handful of atheist activists based in Vancouver.
As BCHA director Ian Bushfield explained in a letter to Education Minister Don McRae, his association simply wanted to ensure that every school district conforms to the B.C. School Act.
Bushfield and the other members of his atheist club were "concerned" about certain policies in the Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Powell River school districts.
The minister must "uphold the rights of students to attend public schools free from religious influence," the letter read.
It's awfully thoughtful of Bush-field to be concerned, but I'm not sure he is qualified to discover new "rights" on behalf of children in the Fraser Valley or elsewhere.
In terms of actual liberal-democratic principles, the right in question is that of parents to decide the worldview their children are to be taught. Handing out a parental consent form hardly infringes that right.
Perhaps Bushfield believes his newly declared "right" derives from the principle of the separation of church and state.
It is becoming conventional wisdom that this principle obliges the state to expunge every vestige of Christianity from public life.
But that is an inversion of the idea. The separation of church and state is meant to protect the freedom of religion and its corollary: the liberty of parents to pass on their beliefs to their children.
Mind you, Bushfield isn't entirely against religion in schools.
On the blog Canadian Atheist he argued in favour of "ethics" courses that compare different religions.
But such courses look at religion merely as a social phenomenon: this gives children the impression that, while some people still believe in particular religions, intelligent people know everything's relative. This blatantly undermines the effort of parents who are trying to teach their religion to their children.
To be fair to Bushfield, though, such courses probably wouldn't infringe the B.C. Schools Act.
Section 76 of the act says that all schools must be conducted on "strictly secular" principles, and that "the highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught."
In effect, this puts moral instruction in the hands of the state, allowing it to interpose between parents and children to assert an official orthodoxy.
Further, Bushfield may be right that allowing the Gideons to hand out Bibles contravenes Section 76.
But there's nothing sacrosanct about the B.C. Schools Act. It was enacted by politicians, men and women who are, at least as much as everyone else, prone to hubris. If some school boards don't fully comply with the law, perhaps that's an indication that it is overbearing.
But what does the state's version of morality look like? Our schools have long been in the business of engineering Multicultural Man - a new kind of Canadian who as a matter of principle "accepts and respects" all non-western cultures while despising his own.
This incoherent ideology, derived from Marx and Foucault, produces rigid conformists who believe that moral goodness is synonymous with keeping one's thoughts within the narrow confines of political correctness. It's a dogma alright, as small, anti-intellectual and Orwellian as you can get.
Does it violate the separation of church and state? It does if parents don't want their children to be relativists. Does it violate section 76? Nope. To the contrary, it's sanctioned by it.
? Kevin Hampson is a Langara journalism student spending his Christmas break at home in the Fraser Valley.