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Canadian Atheists Win Discrimination Case


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Atheist Republic (News)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): n.d.

In a recent discrimination case, the atheists won it, which was in British Columbia, Canada.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal awarded $12,000 to the based on a daughter of a couple being “kicked out” of Bowen Island Montessori School (BIMS). It was labelled discrimination by the BC Human Rights Tribunal because the school, as stated by the BC Human Rights Tribunal, “…treated them differently from every other parent at the school, and sought to suppress their expression of concerns about the nature of the curriculum that were grounded in their race, ancestry and religious beliefs.”

That is to say, discrimination for lack of belief in the prevailing mythology. The parents are Gary Mangel and Mai Yasué. The child was enrolled in 2014 and Mangel sat on the board of directors. Then the school wanted to know the way in which to celebrate the holiday time properly.

One person recommended “clay elf ornaments.” But Mangel rejected this idea, as this, to him, promoted a Christian holiday. One asked if a Hanukkah activity may be better. But Mangel rejected this too.

But Mangel was rather rude in the email correspondence:

I don’t think it’s appropriate to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other religious/political event at preschool (including Remembrance Day). [My child] is three years old… [and] cannot consent to being involved in decorating military wreaths or Christmas trees or lighting Hanukkah candles. Having the kids do these things seems inappropriate, given their absolute inability to understand the religious and political symbolism associated with those acts. As Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) has written, there is no such thing as a Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, etc… baby/toddler/child. They are simply too young to be making these sorts of decisions.

Other board members argued the important of a “cosmic education” through the inclusion of different religious imagery included into the school, as this was important to the philosophy of the Montessori folks at the school.

Mangel stated that there should “atheist Christmas ornaments.” Things escalated from there, more explicit details can be gleaned from the link. Mangel wanted none of the celebrations while the board want as many as possible or, at a minimum, the major traditions to be represented.

No one changed their minds and there was something like a “reality TV show,” according to Mehta.

Things really came to a head when “Mr. Mangel responded, ‘I’ll sue them too’ and then began doing the Nazi salute and marching around while he sung a different version of O Canada in which he substituted his own lyrics.”

The arguments continued over the holidays. Then the school wanted the atheists to sign a contract that stated that “Multiculturalism, including the observation of a wide variety of celebrations is important to us.”

The atheists refused to sign it. Then the school took this as a basis to not re-enroll the daughter of the atheist parents. The atheists being belligerent was not the legal complaint but, rather, the response to the signing, i.e., the refusal to sign it.

BC Human Rights Tribunal member, Barbara Koenkiewicz, stated, “I find nothing in the evidence that could justify the refusal to register [the child] unless Dr. Yasué and Mr. Mangel essentially agreed that they would be significantly limited in their ability to raise issues about the cultural aspects of the BIMS program.”

The school was ordered to pay $5,000 per parent and $2,000 for the child/daughter.

Link to the source material:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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