The federal government has told the Canadian Bible Society to end its 50-year tradition of offering the New Testament to new Canadians at citizenship ceremonies because doing so is inconsistent with Canada’s promotion of multiculturalism.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada said it received complaints from participants who felt the Christian scriptures were being imposed on them, a charge the society denies.
“They say this is about freedom of religion, but the government is actually curtailing freedom of religion,” said Reverend Phyllis Nesbitt, the society’s national director.
The 200-year-old interdenominational Christian organization will appeal Ottawa’s ruling that it stop setting up tables stacked with commemorative Maple Leaf-embossed Bibles at citizenship ceremonies.
The organization has been giving away about 60,000 of the small Bibles a year. The practice started when volunteers from the organization brought the books to the docks welcoming immigrants who landed at Halifax’s Pier 21 in the 1950s.