Delta school district recently ordered evangelical volunteers out of its schools, but they continue to be welcome in a Vancouver high school.
Delta superintendent Dianne Turner said the Pais Project missionaries were told to leave after they violated an order from the South Delta secondary school principal. Read Turner's letter to parents and other community members here and my story here.
The Vancouver board of education continues to allow these young missionaries to work at University Hill secondary, despite concerns from some teachers who fear they're proselytizing. But now, thanks to correspondence from another UHill teacher, I'm beginning to understand.
After my story about the Delta decision was published, UHill teacher-librarian Po Chiang sent me an email saying my stories were unbalanced and unfair. Pais volunteers have been working at UHill since 2006, she wrote, and they understand that proselytizing at school is prohibited by law. Furthermore, she said UHill has welcomed other volunteers from UBC and the community who were also motivated by their personal faith and religious beliefs (eg. Buddhism) and Pais shouldn't be treated any differently.
She went on to say that "baseless" complaints from teachers Rob Bordon and Peter Hill (whom I quoted here) are evidence of hostility towards Christians.
In 2009, Chiang took similar allegations about bias against Christians to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. She filed a complaint against the board of education, a UHill teacher who was sponsoring the school's gay-straight alliance (GSA) and former principal Jill Philipchuk.
According to a story published by the Vancouver Courier, the feud had started a couple of years earlier. Chiang was upset about a number of events, including the fact she wasn't allowed to speak to the GSA about the Christian right's views regarding homosexuality.
Chiang, who was the teacher-sponsor of the school's Christian Fellowship Club, delayed cataloguing books in the library that were donated by the GSA, the Courier story says. She also complained when Philipchuk told her club that it couldn't invite the pastor from a local church as a guest speaker at the school because that would violate the B.C. School Act's prohibition on teaching religious doctrine.
The human-rights complaint was dismissed, but this was obviously a difficult time for the school – and expensive for the district, given the legal fees. Perhaps the school is now trying to avoid a repeat of history.
"God's ways are higher than ours and we believe he has great plans for this school," a Pais post on Facebook said, in reference to UHill. We'll see.