“Protection against discrimination because of religion, in my view, must include protection of the applicants’ belief that there is no deity,” wrote David A. Wright, associate chair of the commission, in an August 13 decision.
The ruling was spurred by a complaint from self-described secular humanist Rene Chouinard, who was opposing the District School Board of Niagara’s policy regarding the distribution of Gideon bibles.
Since 1964, as in the rest of Canada, the Gideons had offered free red Bibles to Grade 5 students in the district—provided the students had first obtained parental consent.
Three years ago, in a protest move, Mr. Choinard, a Grimsby, Ont. father of two school-age children, offered to similarly distribute the Atheist text “Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children.”
When, as Mr. Chouinard expected, the board rejected his offer, he took his case to the Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the school district has “discriminated against them … because of creed.”