Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stoddard Online

Stoddard Online:
There is no doubt about it, Canada is sliding downhill in an accelerated fashion. Why do I say this, you may ask? I say it, because once again, we are allowing special interest groups to feather their own nests.

A prime example is the story which appeared in the April 04, 2006, British Columbia edition of the Globe and Mail newspaper dealing with the distribution of Bibles in public schools.

For more than 60 years, The Gideons have been providing Bibles for students in grade 5 throughout Canada. In more recent years, certain school boards, including Richmond, B.C . send a form home to parents advising them that Bibles are available, and that if they so choose, they may sign the form and return it to the school. The Gideons will then deliver the required amount of Bibles to the school. In my way of thinking, this would appear to be a workable arrangement, between any school board and parent groups. The same offer would apply to other groups who may not want to accept Bibles, but perhaps, offer their own religious teachings or guide books. In this way, the school boards are not promoting any particular belief, but guaranteeing freedom of expression and choice.

There are those who publicly state there is no place in any school system for reference to religious beliefs. Who are these people anyway? Are they being listened to? Are they creating an impact on us by exerting an influence on children at an early age, and thus by doing so, removing any interest that children may have? More importantly, are they supressing freedom of choice?

True, there are many folks out there who have no personal interest in any type of religious beliefs or teachings. It is also true that some folks who were born in Canada make up this number, combined with some new Canadians who have adopted Canada as their new home through immigration.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the Constitution of Canada, and that of the United States as well, were both founded on christian principles. Having said that, and taking it one step further, our Charter Of Rights And Freedoms guarantees all Canadians the right to freedom of expression and choice, and to free speech in general. In other words, we are free to choose and worship whatever our interests dictate, as long as it is of a legal movement.

For those who are advocating the banning of all religious material from our public schools, I suggest it would be worthwhile to obtain a copy of our Charter Of Rights and Freedoms in this country. Over the years, I have personally done exhaustive research on the Charter, and I can find absolutely nothing that would preclude a citizen of this country from actively pursuing their beliefs of choice.

Personally, I applaud those school boards across the country who have attempted to find common ground on this issue by extending the invitation to any religious movement to make their material available to students with parental consent. In my opinion, this decision most definitely falls within the parameters of the right to free speech and expression, as guaranteed by the Charter. Over the years, and having taken part in several forums on this subject, I have heard many new Canadians speak to the fact that they came from a regime where the mere thought of religion was taboo, punishable by the extreme, especially, if they dared speak out against what was dictated to them. Our Charter was a most welcome alternative.

For a few to have the power to dictate the banning of the availability of religious material, it weighs very heavily upon my personal Charter rights. If you choose to not partake of this material, that is your business, but when you advocate the banning of available material, that becomes my business. At that point, you are encroaching upon my Charter Of Rights, and never would I sit idly by and simply watch it happen.

You have heard me speak out on a variety of topics and you have heard me wield criticism, but one thing is certain. True, there are areas where we do not score well, but compared to most other regimes of the planet, on our worst day, we are better off than most others on their best day.

I stress the fact, I am not suggesting that your beliefs should parallel mine. As you are, I am protected by my Charter Of Rights And Freedoms, and thus, it bothers me not, to speak out regarding my beliefs. If I attend a sports facility and make a little noise for a hockey team, I am called a "fan." Is it right that if I choose to attend a place of worship and speak out publicly that I be labelled a "fanatic?"

Lew Stoddard
Posted to site, Friday, April 07, 2006


Garth said...

Lew Stoddard, where have you been all week. I like reading your column often, but you disappeared on us.

Anyway, do support what you are saying here referring to Bibles in schools, and as well the offering for other beliefs to be heard as well. that is fair. do agree that we who choose to accept christinaity should not lose our rights because there are those who don't. Hey people lets be fair about this

Keep up the writing Lew, and I was wondering what those sasquatches are reading these days. Funny one.

Garth and Wanda
Ponoka, Alberta

Boris said...

this makes me sick if my childrens want a bible thery should be able to have it. to all those who dont like it should go back to where i came from in soviet union a few years ago

Boris Karlamakoff
i am mad in regina

S Stevens said...

sorry there is no place for religious beliefs in the public schools. You are so wrong on this one Mr. Stoddard.

S Stevens
St. Thomas, Ontario

Ruth McWhinney said...

Mr. Stoddard,

My kids go to school to learn academics from Monday to Friday, on Sunday they could go to Sunday School, public school not the place. My opinion for what it is worth.

Ruth McWhinney
Brantford, Ontario

Dennis C said...

Mr. Stoddard,
You are a brave and bold man to take this on. Your column speaks boldly of your dedication to your beliefs and reflections. We should be prepared to stand and be counted, that is what democracy is all about. And by the way, I agree with what you said in your article. Keep up the work.

Dennis Culhane
Peterborough, Ontario

Retired school principal from Quebec said...

Mr. Stoddard,
Parliament is opened each day with a prayer, so what is wrong with a kid getting a Bible if he or she desires? Stop complaining out there people, and enjoy the freedom that allows it in the first place.

F. Stevens
Retired Principal from Quebec

Barbara Keene said...

This is crazy in the first place with people complaining. They want the freedom of expression and choice, and in this case it is not the child making the decision, it is the parents telling the children what they may not want. Folks, it is time to give your heads a shake.

Barbara Keene
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Garth Sanderson said...

Hey, if the court accepts the Bible or another form of swearing in depending on the persons beliefs, who are we to say that a Bible or religious texts cannot be delivered to a child in school.
You can't have it both ways people, if you get rid of one, they all must go including the court and government. Guess what you would have then, you would have proceedings that would have no basis.

Time to smell the roses!

Garth Sanderson
Summerside, PEI

Trish Bezanson said...

I am young, but did not a lot of people fight in wars for us to have these freedoms? I had a Bible given to me in school a number of years ago and you know what? I still have it, and am proud of it. It is a little reddish brown colored one.

Trish Bezanson
Cornwall, Ontario

Gloria Swain said...

Dear Lew Stoddard,

My parents did not attend church regularly, but at a young age I did start attending with a friend from school. . . with the little New Testament that the Gideons gave me at school. Good article Mr. Stoddard.

Gloria Swain
Woodstock, New Brunswick

Reni L said...

Mr. Stoddard,
Not sure I agree with you and really don't know exactly why. Just seems that school room not the place for religion. You are entitled though to your opinion, and there is no doubt when you express your opinion as to where it leans. Good reading material all the same. You write it well sir.

Reni Larochelle
Riviere du Loup, PQ

Derrick said...

Two things to never argue about. Politics and religion. You sir, would argue that red was blue just as a means of making your jaw move.

Can't believe that I read this stuff from you. Why don't you go and move in with the Sasquatches, maybe they will listen to you rant and rave. You could be their spokesperson.

Derrick in Kentville, Nova Scotia

Emily Trecartin said...


I see nothing wrong with the handing out of religious materials when wanted by individuals in the public schools.

Also, most events in history were tied in one way or another to beliefs, so what is wrong with a youngster wanting to learn. You say it very well Sir in your editorial.

I enjoy your editorial comment, and thank you for the work on the Steven Truscott affair.

Emily Trecartin
Amherst, Nova Scotia

C Middleton said...

Mr. Stoddard,
I am not certain if the word fanatic adequately describes you or not, but if someone were to suggest that you have a big mouth, there would be no argument from me on that.

C Middleton
Dorchester, New Brunswick

Maria H said...

I know The Gideons are a dedicated lot, they make no distinction amongst people. If one desires a Bible, they will provide it, no maqtter what our standing in society is. I have never known them to push the Bibles on anyone, it is always by choice.

I see nothing wrong with The Gideons approaching the schools with their Bible offerings, nor for that matter, any other organized religious legal belief or movement.

I support what you say Lew when you make your point that because some may be against the idea of Bibles in the schools, they have no place to be muzzling those who believe it is ok.

Maria H
A teacher from Saint John, N.B.

Bob McBrine said...

Mr. Stoddard,
I support free speech and expression all the way, and of course that will take in religious beliefs. If that involves the placing of religious material and making it available through the public schools, then so be it. Anyone who thinks differently, as far as I am concerned, can keep their heads buried in the sand dune.

Bob McBrine
A Proud Canadian from St. Johns

old coal miner said...

Hey Man this touches me big time as i come from a hard backgrounde in cape breton and in my little village it was the church and its teacheings that held us together in hard times and i wish more little ones would ask for a bible.i am sorry i dont write so well but i did my best,it is my point anyways.

an old coal miner
sydney mines, nova scotia

Dorothy M said...

Attention Lew Stoddard,

This is a sensitive subject, and you approach it head on. I am glad for that. I support your opinion all the way on this.

Dorothy McMullin
Thunder Bay, Ontario

Cam Bellows said...

You are way out to lunch on this. You should leave this sort of topic alone, not something to discuss on an editorial page, at least I dont think so anyway.

You tend to meddle into a lot of things where I think you have no place in meddling. I don't like your "know it all approach."

Cam Bellows
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Marion W said...

As a retired school teacher from some years back, I can recall when the school day commenced with the reading of a prayer, students would take turns, day by day. We never discussed individual families beliefs, was just something that everyone was welcome to take part in, and I can't ever recall anyone complaining about it.

We still managed to find the time to complete the school day, manage 25 students from grade one to grade eight in a one room school. And oh yes, I must not forget this part, there was only one teacher.

Yes Mr. Stoddard, those were the days, and I do agree with you, we are sliding down hill, I am sorry to say.

Marion Westergard
Alliston, Ontario

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading your posts Lew, when will we see a new one??

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