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Toronto School District to Vote on Banning Bible Handouts for Non-Educational Purposes

"Bibles and other religious texts will continue to be available in our libraries."

A Toronto school district in southern Ontario is taking a final vote on Tuesday night regarding whether to ban free handouts of Gideons Bibles. Based on past votes, the Bluewater School District is expecting the dissemination of Bibles for non-instructional purposes to fifth-grade students to be officially halted.

According to the Associated Press, the debate has been an emotional one, with trustees receiving both threats and hate mail. These individuals are accusing the trustees who oversee the district as being both un-Christian and un-Canadian by refusing to allow the Bibles to be handed out.

The local Gideons International chapter in Canada has distanced itself from these charges, saying that it will accept the ban if it is implemented; some church elders have also separated themselves from these critiques. Tuesday's meeting is expected to be packed, as at least one delegation is planning to speak out against the ban. The AP has more:

Based on a legal opinion and concerns about the cost of allowing distribution of all religious materials, the trustees have so far opted to ban such handouts as several other school boards across Canada have done.

The invective of those opposed to the ban unnerved some trustees of the Bluewater board, which has more than 18,000 students in 53 schools.

Chairwoman Jan Johnstone said Monday that a recent article by The Canadian Press on the torrent of hate mail directed at trustees, some of it racist, prompted a new wave of correspondence.

This time, however, Johnstone said correspondents from across Canada and the United States were by and large "overwhelmingly supportive" of the pending ban.

Those who support the ban argue that the distribution of Bibles has no place in public schools. Some go as far as to claim that proving the holy book actually violates human rights legislation.

However, opponents are highly critical of the likely ban. Some parents have even threatened to remove their children from the public school system if, indeed, it is implemented.

In an effort to temper flames, Johnstone has reiterated that the ban was only on non-instructional materials. She said that multi-faith content in all public school curriculum will continue, so long as it is for educational purposes.

"Bibles and other religious texts will continue to be available in our libraries," Johnstone said.

(H/T: The AP via Yahoo!)

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