An atheist couple in British Columbia was handed a nice lump of cash after they complained about the Christmas-themed decorations in their daughter’s classroom.
The entire ordeal began in 2014, when Gary Mangel and Mai Yasué, two outspoken atheists of Jewish and Japanese descent, respectively, learned the school’s plans for the month of December, which included decorating elf ornaments and lighting candles on a menorah.
Ultimately, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal awarded the humbuggers $12,000 because their daughter’s enrollment in the Bowen Island Montessori School was allegedly threatened by their views, according to CBC News.
The complaint states Mangel and Yasué were told their daughter could not re-enroll in the school unless they signed an agreement confirming their “understanding and acceptance” of all aspects of the school’s cultural programs.
“At its core,” tribunal member Barbara Korenkiewicz explained Tuesday in her decision, “it is about a letter which held [a child]’s registration hostage to a demand.”
Explaining his disgruntlement over the Christmas decorations, Mangel argued — like famed atheist Richard Dawkins — children just don’t have the ability “to understand the religious and political symbolism associated with those acts.”
He went on to claim it was wholly inappropriate for their to be any hint of celebration of Hanukkah or Christmas at the school. The angry father added, “I certainly hope that there will be no discussion of Santa Claus at BIMS. I am absolutely against anyone blatantly lying to my daughter.”
The teacher responsible for the Christmas-themed decor said they were put up around the classroom to help students understand culture and the origins of the holiday season.
But Korenkiewicz said in her decision she was “not persuaded that multiculturalism is BIMS’ primary purpose, but rather a portion of one component of its program.”
The tribunal member did, however, put the kibosh on the parents’ claim they were facing regular discrimination from locals over their frustration with the Christmas-themed decorations.
“I have given little weigh to the evidence that Dr. Yasué and Mr. Mangel say links their perception of ostracism in the community to the conduct of the Respondents which is the subject of this decision,” Korenkiewicz said.
BIMS was ordered to pay each parent $5,000, plus interest, “for the impact on them from the refusal to confirm” their daughter’s enrollment with their signatures on the compliance letter.
Ironically, Christmas came early for those two atheists.