Questions are sometimes raised about the legality of our distributions in public schools.
Those opposed to the practice will often state that by allowing Christian New Testaments to be given to children within the walls of a public school, a school is supporting one religion over another while claiming to be neutral.
However, in 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada (Chamberlain v. Surrey District School Board) clearly agreed that “secular principles” must include—and not exclude—religious believers, because the secular is the realm of competing belief systems, of which atheism and agnosticism are also included.
“Religion is an integral aspect of people’s lives, and cannot be left at the boardroom door. What secularism does rule out, however, is any attempt to use the religious views of one part of the community to exclude from consideration the values of other members of the community. A requirement of secularism implies that, although the Board is indeed free to address the religious concerns of parents, it must be sure to do so in a manner that gives equal recognition and respect to other members of the community. Religious views that deny equal recognition and respect to the members of a minority group cannot be used to exclude the concerns of the minority group. This is fair to both groups, as it ensures that each group is given as much recognition as it can consistently demand while giving the same recognition to others.”
To fulfil their role in the community, school boards today have developed policies to treat all religious groups fairly. In most cases, schools send a letter home to their students’ parents, informing them of the opportunity to receive a New Testament provided by The Gideons. Parents then have the option to refuse or accept the gift. This opportunity is available to any religious group who would like to offer a religious book of their own.
In providing New Testaments to students, we are offering a book we believe has value to people of all ages—even children in grade 5.
The New Testament is more than a religious book—it is a well known “text book” that teaches a great deal about morality and early church history. When compared by scholastic standards, the New Testament is the most reliable ancient document we have today.* Its textual integrity is more certain than that of Plato's writings or Homer's Iliad—books that are willingly accepted in school systems.
Check out this link when you want to explore the Bible's trustworthiness and integrity.
*McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), p. 55