Surrey Public School Book Banning

This is all from bc.general, a debate that took place December/94 after a Surrey public elementary school removed several books from its library. A group of Christian fundamentalist parents had gone through the library throwing out everything they thought opposed Christianity, no matter how slight.

There have been accesses to these pages!

From: (randall g)
Newsgroups: bc.general
Subject: Re: Book bannings in Surrey...
Date: 13 Dec 1994 20:28:03 -0800

In article <3cl5d0$>, Kevin Coughlan wrote:
>Okay, I'll bite.  Could someone please post the list of books that this 
>is attempting to ban (or _has_ banned)?

This is taken from an article in the Vancouver Sun, Monday Dec 12, front 
page, by Douglas Todd, Sun religion reporter:

begin quote:

   As the small group of parents unpacked the library books for Surrey's new 
Traditional school, some kept their eyes out for books that offended their 
Christian beliefs.
   The unelected group of mothers culled more than 17 books.
   The questionable books, which were among the standard package sent to 
every public elementary school in BC, touched on Halloween, wicca religion 
or native-Indian spirituality.
   Since September, some of the books have been returned to the shelves 
after consultation with the Traditional school's principal and teacher-
librarian. But at least three books for grades 5 through 7 were kept away 
from the children:
   - "No Place for Me" by Barthe DeClements, about a teenager with an 
alcoholic parent who receives help from an aunt who turns out to be a 
practitioner of wicca, which some call white witchcraft.
   - "The Random House Book of Humour", which contains a humourous chapter 
by Roald Dahl about a witch who hates kids.
   - "Keepers of the Earth" bu Joseph Bruchac, a book for children about 
sacred native traditions and the environment.
   [ ... ]
   The Traditional school was approved by trustees from the Surrey Electors 
Team (SET) many of whom belong to conservative churches.
   "There's a strong contingent of parents who would like to take over the 
entire school system," said Surrey trustee Jim Chisholm, who opposed the way 
SET trustees "rammed through" the Traditional school.
   [Parent and co-founder Heather] Stilwell [past-president of the Christian 
Heritage party] has taken a key role at the Traditional school in trying to 
weed out books on witches, Inuit legends and West Coast native spirituality.
   "We should error on the side of caution because you don't want children 
reading books that challenge your family's ideas," said Stilwell who pulled 
her children out of Catholic schools a few years ago because they were not 
orthodox enough for her.

end quote.

It's hard to believe that Roald Dahl, who I believe wrote one of my 
childhood favourites "Charlie and the Cocolate Factory", would write 
something considered subversive for children.

It would appear that some people such as Heather Stilwell, who apparently 
cannot find a private religious school strict enough for their tastes, are 
now trying to mold a public school to fit their ideal.

I guess some Christians must feel threatened by descriptions of alternate 
beliefs. But jeez, if sacred native traditions are so appealing to children 
compared to Xtianity, they probably would be better off converting. Native 
spirituality makes a lot more sense to me personally that Xtianity ever did. 
(Not that I believe in that either).

randall g

From: (randall g)
Newsgroups: bc.general
Subject: Re: Christians and "tolerance" (was: Re: Book bannings in Surrey...
Date: 15 Dec 1994 21:51:34 -0800

In article <1994Dec15.210733.1768@sol.UVic.CA>, Melvin Klassen wrote:

> (Greg Harms) writes:
>>I'll second the motion. Evidently, these Christian groups are also
>>attempting to ban books throughout the educational system.  Those of us
>>who believe in a pluralistic society must protest vigorously. 
>>Rather sadly, it seems that many evangelical Christians beleive [sic] that
>>all spiritual beliefs and religions other than their own should be
> True.  As written in Matthew 28:19, Jesus Christ said:
>        go and make disciples of all nations ...
> Nothing "tolerant" about that statement, eh?

You are absolutely right, there is nothing tolerant about it. Sounds like an 
order from your god to convert everyone else to your religion, with no 
particular bounds on behaviour. Quotes like this are probably what inspires 
some to use undue persuasion or varying degrees of force to accomplish the 
goal. Or to do whatever possible to subvert the school system into churning 
out good little Christians who have never been exposed to any alternate 
belief systems.

> >Amazingly, such beliefs are not in accordance with Christian principles 
> >of tolerance and understanding.  
> Christ taught to "hate the sin" and "love the sinner",
> and urged sinners to repent from their sins.

I suppose Christ wasn't really teaching tolerance and understanding, 
basically just submission to the will of God. Tolerance and understanding 
are recent innovations in Christianity. I guess some people think they are 
important Christian principles, but you and I know better. Perhaps that's 
why Christians used to enslave or kill entire cultures in His name.

> Christians have never been "politically-correct", and never will be.

I expect there are many Christians who may disagree with you on this point.

> Indeed, the Roman-occupiers of Israel in Christ's time
> were quite bothered by His "rabble-rousing",
> and tried and convicted Him, in their courts.

Along with plenty of other rabble-rousers at the time. Jesus wasn't the only 
one to claim to be God, just the most successful. Historically trouble 
makers always risked getting killed. So the Roman Empire wasn't a tolerant 
democracy, what else is new? (I'm not even addressing the "necessity" of his 
martyrdom, and whether Pontius Pilate or the Roman administration could be 
guilty of an act God required of them to provide the centrepiece of his 

If Jesus Christ were to show up today, and perform verifiable miracles, he 
wouldn't get crucified this time. Even I would probably believe in him.

> >In my opinion, the actions of these fanatical 
> >Christian groups are fascist and extremely dangerous, 
> >in their own way just as evil as the neo-nazis or the KKK.
> Hitler murdered to advance his ideals.
> Christians know the Ten Commandments tell them *NOT* to murder.

If only more Christians followed some of those commandments ...
However, there is no commandment not to use intimidation (or violence) in 
God's name, to create more believers (or if there is, it gets ignored too).

> Christians are "fascist" ?  Not according to my dictionary.
> ! fas-cism 
> !  often cap :a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that
> !  of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual
> !  and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed
> !  by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation,
> !  and forcible suppression of opposition

There've been lots of Xtian leaders and groups that fit this definition 
fairly well. Just because you don't use, say, race as your criteria doesn't 
mean you can't be called fascist.

I suspect that many Christians such as Heather Stilwell (the "leader" of the 
group that banned the books at the Surrey Traditional school) would like to 
see an autocratic, regimented society, organized along strict fundamentalist 
Christian principles. They are doing everything they can within the system 
to bring this about.

And banning books is forcible suppression of (perceived) opposition.

> Jesus Christ's act of redemption was, and is, for *all* races and nations.

Well, if and until all races and nations universally believe in one specific 
version of Christianity, there is no reason to teach it in public schools.

randall g