CHESLEY, Ont. - Public school trustees defied vitriol, threats and impassioned pleas by finalizing a ban Tuesday on the free handouts of Gideon Bibles.
The 8-3 vote at the Bluewater District board barring distribution of any non-instructional religious materials ended months of fractious and emotionally charged debate over the ending of the decades-old practice.
The decision, which follows in the footsteps of several other public school boards in Canada, was made on legal advice that allowing the distribution could violate human-rights legislation.
Bill Donovan, of Owen Sound, Ont., a father with one child in the Bluewater system, opposed the distribution because it "undermines the secular nature" of public schools.
"I feel most pleased, though, that the decision derived from the law of the land, administered by an elected board, in a secular fashion," Donovan said.
"It bolsters my faith in the admirable society we have here in Ontario and Canada."
Vociferous opponents of the ban had accused trustees of betraying their Canadian and Christian heritage.
Several trustees received threats and hate mail, much of it anti-immigrant.
As a result, the board took security precautions for the evening vote, which went off without incident.
Before the vote, one speaker, Bevan Lougheed, told the board that he wished on behalf of the Christian community to "explicitly condemn" expressions of hate.
"We just want to be consulted before you change a practice important to our heritage," Lougheed said.
Another public speaker said allowing the Bible giveaway amounted to discrimination.
The local chapter of Gideons International in Canada and some church elders had previously distanced themselves from the more extreme views espoused by ban opponents.
Still, the invective unnerved members of the board, which has more than 18,000 students in 53 schools in Ontario's Bruce and Grey counties.
Trustees stressed the ban applies only to non-instructional religious materials.
"Multi-faith content in the public elementary and secondary school curriculum for educational purposes will continue," board chairwoman Jan Johnstone said earlier.
"Bibles and other religious texts will continue to be available in our libraries."
Some parents have said they might take their children out of the public school system in light of the ban.
Gideons International in Canada, which has been offering the free Bible to Grade 5 students, said the organization would take a ban with "complete acceptance."
Johnstone rejected as out of order a proposed "compromise" amendment that would have sent the ban motion out for system-wide consultation before a final vote.
Another trustee, holding a Gideon Bible she once received, called it a sad day.
"The system was not broken," said Marilyn McComb, who spoke passionately against the ban. "We spent five months debating a problem that was not a problem."
-Written by Colin Perkel in Toronto
Lunch time? Leviticus 11:7-8 reads: <blockquote>And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.</blockquote>
Thinking of getting the Superman insignia on your bicep? Leviticus 19:28 states: <blockquote>Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.</blockquote>
Off to the barber? Leviticus 19:27 states: <blockquote>Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.</blockquote>
It's bad enough if you're a man who has had his private parts injured -- or heaven forbid cut off -- but to add insult to injury, Deuteronomy 23:1 states: <blockquote>He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.</blockquote>
Have you ever had your palm read? Or maybe you've consulted your horoscope for a little guidance? Leviticus 19:31 reads: <blockquote>Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.</blockquote> Photo by zopdeep on <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcpucho/318112432/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr.com</a>
Heard some juicy news about Harold in the accounting department? Can't wait to tell your BFF that you just read that Snooki is pregnant? Leviticus 19:16 states: <blockquote>Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the LORD.</blockquote> Photo by JoeInSouthernCA on <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joebehr/4744688383/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr.com</a>
Gentlemen -- if you ever get in a fight and you get the feeling your lady might jump in and lend you a hand by squeezing your opponent's... ahem... "secrets," you'd better stop her. Deuteronomy 25:11-12 states: <blockquote>When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.</blockquote>
Kids these days -- you never know what's going to come out of their mouths! But hopefully your child doesn't curse you because Exodus 21:17 states: <blockquote>"And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death."</blockquote>
When it comes to the Bible, this is a big no-no (unless your spouse was cheating on you): Mark 10:11-12 states: <blockquote>Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.</blockquote>
In our fast-paced society, does anyone really work Monday to Friday from 9-5? Exodus 31:14-15 states: <blockquote>"Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.</blockquote>
Headed to church, ladies? 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 states: <blockquote>Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.</blockquote>
Craving a big bowl of popcorn shrimp? Leviticus 10-11 states: <blockquote>And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.</blockquote> Photo by jeffreyw on <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreyww/5833838507/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr.com</a>
Today it might be harder to find a bride who is a virgin rather than the other way around. But Deuteronomy 22:20-21 states: <blockquote>But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you</blockquote>