Canadian School’s Solution to Daily Prayer: Just Put Non-Christians in a Separate Classroom

Last year, Canadian Luke Fevin enrolled his children in Sturgeon Heights School in Alberta with the knowledge that it was a public school. It wasn’t long before he discovered they began each school day with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Luke Fevin, looking badass, in front of Sturgeon Heights School (Edmonton Journal)

Fevin fought to change that — and he did! In September, they suspended the prayer for the remainder of the school year… but school officials were really upset about it. Because, you know, saying the Lord’s Prayer was “tradition.” (Where have we heard that before…?)

Last week, the Sturgeon School board took up the issue again and came up with a brilliant solution for next year:

They will continue to recite the Lord’s Prayer… and just segregate all non-Christians into a different classroom.

No, really.

Starting this September, all students will arrive at school three minutes earlier. They will then be segregated into praying and non-praying groups. The Christian students will have regular morning prayers, and stay with their Christian cohort for the singing of the anthem and morning announcements. The non-praying students will be segregated in a non-Christian area. Then, when prayer time is over, the kids will file to their regular classrooms.

“We hope it will work,” Sturgeon School Division chairman Terry Jewell said.

“We hope that it will meet the needs of the parents that want it and those that don’t. I guess time will tell.”

Paula Simons of The Edmonton Journal thinks this is a “step in the right direction.”

*Deep breath*

ARE YOU SHITTING ME?!

This is the worst idea ever! How are Christian parents in the area ok with this?! Why are they not speaking out against this loudly and publicly?! How could any school board member think this is an acceptable “solution”?!

(***Edit***: Luke Fevin tells me I’m misinterpreting Simons’ comment and that she’s a strong supporter of keeping the prayer out of the schools. So please keep that in mind. My apologies for taking it the wrong way.)

At least Simons clarifies her idiotic comment by highlighting the problems with the adopted solution:

If a group of Christian students wants to come to school early to pray, by all means, let them do so. That would be a reasonable accommodation for secular public school. Or, the school could allow a few moments each morning for personal reflection, prayer and meditation, allowing each student to begin the day according to their own faith or personal philosophy. Or the school could offer up a different public prayer or meditation each day, as Edmonton City Council or the Alberta Legislature do, respecting Alberta’s multicultural diversity.

But the board’s “solution” simply validates the message that Sturgeon Heights is a Christian school, first and foremost. Official school prayer, in a Christian idiom, has now been formally endorsed by the school board as the norm, with those who don’t go along are physically and publicly excluded from general school practice.

The archaic provisions of the Alberta Act, which fly in the face of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, do indeed give the school board the legal power to authorize official Christian prayer in all its schools. But the world and the province have changed so much since 1905. Just because the board has the legal right to violate the Charter doesn’t mean it should.

That last paragraph point out the biggest problem with all of this: It’s perfectly legal.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t raise hell about it.

Here’s the contact list for the Board of Trustees of the Sturgeon School Board. Let them know this is unacceptable. If you’re Canadian, if you live in the school district, and especially if you’re Christian, let them know you will not stand for this. (Be firm, but respectful. Don’t be a dick. Feel free to post the content of your emails in the comment thread below.)

Terry Jewell (Chair)
780-973-5228
tjewell@sturgeon.ab.ca

Shelley Porter
780-939-3730
sporter@sturgeon.ab.ca

Liz Kohle
780-921-3304
ekohle@sturgeon.ab.ca

Daryl Krieger
780-923-2038
dkrieger@sturgeon.ab.ca

Wendy Miller
780-973-3164
wmiller@sturgeon.ab.ca

Tracy Nowak (Vice Chair)
780-973-3113
tnowak@sturgeon.ab.ca

Brent Gray
780-942-2222
bgray@sturgeon.ab.ca

(***Edit***: A commenters points out that Nowak and Gray both voted against this measure. Good for them.)

(***Edit***: Fevin says you can support the cause by signing this petition and keeping up with the goings-on of the controversy on this Facebook page.)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • tyler

     
    “ Don’t be a dick.”

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/FRJD66AT6LQ6CZZ46XJO43A4FM Artor

      Tell that to the Xtians.

  • http://twitter.com/Buffy2q Buffy

    I suppose we should be grateful they’re not making the non-Christians wait outside in the cold while the Christians engage in their rituals. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/theAccidentalHousewife Leah Elzinga

       oh, don’t worry, there’ll be Christian kids out there, too, if their parents have the nerve to label them “non-praying”.

  • Stev84

    Hey, at least they don’t remove the non-Christians from the regular classrooms so the Christians can pray there. How progressive

  • gski

    If you contact them it may be worth noting these, Matthew 6:5 & 6:6.

    • Au_catboy

       gski, how silly of you, everyone knows that bible verses only apply when they’re convenient for christians! 

      • gski

         You are certainly right, it’s just like the constitution. 

  • Piet Puk

    Or… they could pray at home and then use school time for teaching.

    • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

       

      “…pray at home and then use school time for teaching.”

      It’s a fucking crazy idea, but it might just work. :-)

      • Theshoves

        Wot ‘ee sed. 

        Fekking religious shite is forced on my boy in his primary school. I’ve no problem with him learning about it, but the second he’s being told to BELIEVE in that shite I’ll be over there giving a one-way conversation to the headmistress.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

      Use schools to teach things to children? That’s crazy talk.

  • davidamusick

    I’ve never understood why people feel its so important to have prayer in schools, especially when it’s clear that so many object to it.

    It seems like the main motivator is the same thing that motivates so much of primate behavior – the desire to dominate others, to have our group triumph over the other groups.

    The actual issue isn’t as important as keeping the other groups in their place and letting everyone know what apes are in charge of this forest.

    I wonder if they realize how much of their behavior is simply more evidence supporting evolutionary theory.

    • Au_catboy

      the reason christians need prayer in public schools is that their faith is far too weak to survive without  constant reinforcement at taxpayer expense.  If they were capable of promoting their faith without a captive audience on public property, then they wouldn’t need to hijack the government and steal tax money to prop up their failing cult…

  • Veronica Abbass
  • Michael

    I can see how a sane person might consider this a step in the right direction. They’re acknowledging that making people pray isn’t necessarily a good thing. Next step is to allow children to opt out, then several steps down the line they get to just not bothering with school prayers at all.

    • Ellie

      Except they’re *already at* not having school prayer, and are now *re*-instating it with a segregation option.

  • Quickcard

    Looks like Canada has caught our USA based virus, dementia trogloditica.

    • CanadianNihilist

       The problem with Alberta (and Saskatchewan I think)  is that religion in public schools in grandfathered in.  It supersedes our charter of freedoms or whatever we call it now.

  • Tonyskeptic

    Tried to send email, address does not work, keeps getting rejected.

    • Formercorvguy

      ekohle@sturgeon.ab.cadkrieger@sturgeon.ab.ca 
      bgray@sturgeon.ab.ca 
      sporter@sturgeon.ab.ca 
      All failed, the others seemed to work. I’m looking for alternate e-mail addresses now will post if I find any

      • Formercorvguy

        note that Tracy Nowak and  Brent Gray voted against this bit of idiocy, no luck finding alternate e-mail, some of them have facebook pages though

  • Tonyskeptic

    So when are they going to start pinning
    yellow stars on all non-Christian students?

    I am appalled and shocked as a
    Canadian and an Afghanistan
    vet to see a Canadian PUBLIC school segregate children based on their
    religious or non-religious beliefs, which was one of the attitudes that we were
    trying to change in Afghanistan.

    Is there not enough bullying in our
    schools? Now they want to separate kids so everyone now knows who is different,
    let the children pray at home or in their places of worship, leave schools for
    education, not indoctrination and bring Alberta into the modern
    world.

    • David Brown

      By percentage Alberta has the second highest secular
      population in Canada.

    • JohnK

      You may have mis-read the story. There was no segregation until tough guy started proselytizing his views on others.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Werst/1318164479 Daniel Werst

        wait, your definition of proselytizing is asking that the administrators of a public school NOT lead your child in reciting the Our Father?

        are you (1) stupid (2) dishonest or (3) both?

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        You may have mis-read the story.  ’tough guy’ is far from the only parent who has an issue with a 2/3 majority pushing around a 1/3 minority.  This isn’t a ‘one parent’ issue, not that the wrong thing is ok if the minority is small enough.

  • dorothy30

    i live in manitoba. this is what we have done here, too, for about 20 years. prior to that, children whose parents didn’t want them included in the morning prayers were forced to stand in the hallway outside the classroom while the prayers were being read. this topic is on the agenda for our next meeting. but it’s complicated here in canada. this is perfectly legal. 

    • Formercorvguy

      I’m not sure it is perfectly legal, to carry this out they will have to identify the non-christians, how can they do this without forcing people to to reveal their faith.  Forcing people to tick christian or non-christian on a form could certainly be challenged in court

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I don’t get how identifying anyone has anything to do with it.  What I don’t get is how a Constitution written in 1982 missed two of the three parts of the US 1st amendment.  I mean I kinda sorta get how free speech in Canada isn’t as free as in the US.  I don’t agree, but I see how it happened.  But having lived in both of them, I don’t get how the freedom from religion is at least officially greater in the US than in Canada.

        • Ak

          The Charter only applies to the state. If this school is government run, or if the government has a large role in making decisions, then s.15  would likely apply, but if the school is a private institution I’m afraid there’s likely not much that can be done.

          • Katherinemch

            Of course it is a public school , or there would be no issue. It’s the only “Secular” school in a sea of Catholic Schools (both types are government funded) so for people around there who aren’t Christian, it’s pretty much this school, send your kid to another town’s school (where he/she won’t know anyone from the neighborhood & will have an hour commute each way), homeschool, or move.
            A tough situation to be in.  

        • Formercorvguy

          I don’t really know of course (not being a constitutional lawyer)  but would seem to me that forcing people to reveal their religious faith so they can be treated differently is inherently discriminatory 

      • http://www.facebook.com/theAccidentalHousewife Leah Elzinga

         I live in one of the school districts in this area fighting for secular education and on my daughter’s registration form for PUBLIC school there is a box to be checked: Catholic OR Other. 

        Inclusive education at its finest.

  • Trickster Goddess

    I hope that many of the Christian students opt for the non-praying classroom as well, either in solidarity or at least to escape the daily tedium of having to listen to rote recitation that sucks all meaning out the prayer.

    • Bryan Gillis

       That’s certainly possible. Back when I was in high school, Illinois mandated that the pledge of allegiance be said daily (allowing students to opt out) in response to a lawsuit about the words “Under God” in it. There was one student who was not only Christian, but an evolution-denying hardened theist, who chose not to say the pledge because he didn’t agree with the imposition of religion in public schools. But that was one student, out of around 50-60 in the two homerooms I was in in that period. Perhaps there will be more in this case, as it’s an even more blatant wrong, but we’ll see.

      • Katherinemch

          Wow, sounds like that kid made admirable efforts to figure out his opinions & follow his conscience. Props to people who can separate “what’s best for me” from “what’s the Right thing to do” like that.
          How can even parents who liked having the prayer want it so bad that they condone this system which will increase the amount of cliquiness, bullying, feelings of alienation… things that are already bad enough?
          I would love it soooo much if everyone, when they get the form to declare whether their kid will go to the prayer, whether Christian or not, just writes “My beliefs are nobody’s business” across the thing.
          

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001627228091 Alexander Ryan

    They’d save a lot of school time by just not doing it. A couple minutes a day adds up, and teachers are likely to start teaching right after the prayer and not wait for the other kids. As well as, depending on how harsh they are about the separation, it might be hard to be an in-the-closet Atheist. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/theAccidentalHousewife Leah Elzinga

       There’s no “might” about it.  It seemed more difficult for me to “come out” as Atheist rather than as homosexual.  After all, at least if I was gay I could still believe in “god”, right? 

    • Katherinemch

       Good point- nobody can stay closetted! & they aught to be allowed that privacy.  It’s not just to free kids from Christian families to “lose their faith”. What if a kid from a Sikh family is attracted to Christianity? Or a kid from Christian parents wants to follow Buddhism (like Lisa on the Simpsons!). I feel obliged to point this out because so many people seem to see this as an Atheist cause. Really nobody who likes privacy should support forcing people to proclaim their religious leanings in public.
       This segregation idea assumes a bunch of minors are just their parents’ property and their parents can label them “Hindu” or “Mormon” or “Catholic” or “Atheist”. What about diversity? Tons of people end up being of different faith than their parents, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 
        The main thing I for one did during the years from around 10-15 was try to find myself. I think that’s a natural step in adolescence. Even if the kids were allowed to label themselves rather than accept their parents’ opinions like sponges, at that age, you DON’T KNOW yet  what religion you’ll be, you’re in the process of figuring it out. Same as you’re not sure yet what career you’ll choose, where you’ll live, or who you’ll marry. It just seems to me that if there’s one thing that’s hard to put a label on, it’s the personality of a child, with all the manias & phases & learning that happen constantly.
        The bullying of minority kids is of course the main problem with this segregation idea, but the logistics of it are absurd when you look closely. How are teachers supposed to memorise the faith of dozens of their kids, to get them to the right spot for prayer time? And what will they do when what the parents want is not what the kids want?  
         

  • Hobbes

    I am from Germany… we did try seperating people who had different belief systems into certain camps some time ago. Wasn’t a good idea.
    In my opinon it’s really not a good idea to have all the students there in time, then seperate them and let the one half pray and let the other half wait.
    Praying in school is IMHO nonsense… but if they really want to do it: just let the christian students arrive 10 minutes early and pray in the gym or somewhere… and then 10 minutes later they all arrive at their classrooms together.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Most schools already have a classroom for non-Christians. In my school it was called the “gifted students class”, but different schools use different names.

    The problem here is that the school wants to let them get back together after morning prayers. I say keep ‘em separate, so the dogmatic little theists don’t hold the smart kids back.

    • Seymour

      gifted students class
      Is that the PC euphemism for the remedial class?

      What special gift did nature favour you with, apart from the obvious?

      • Ellie

        Er… no, in most places, the gifted students class is the term used for *advanced* classes, not remedial.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Well, nature favored me with a high IQ and an analytical way of thinking. My parents favored me with a non-religious upbringing and encouraged scholarship. I was fortunate to attend good schools (with gifted student programs). Beyond all these things, mostly matters of luck, the rest I did myself.

        • JohnK

          You are so awesome!!!! tell us more cool stuff about yourself!

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            I can’t… I don’t want to be responsible for blowing your mind!

            • Chazz

              Were you gifted with the ability to take a reasonable debate against discriminating based on religion and use it as a soapbox from which to discriminate against a religion?

  • DG

    I guess my question is why shouldn’t Christians be OK with this?  It appears to be legal.  The atheist in question didn’t seem to care one way or another about what anyone else wanted.  When the school changed everything for the atheist in question, without much thought about the Christians, were the atheists OK with it? 

    It seems that we are fostering an environment that says ‘I don’t care about them, I only care about me.’  That’s no good no matter which way it goes, religion or not.  FWIW, I would like to think that the Christians in the school would step up and say something to get this changed so the non-Christian children aren’t treated this way.  But then I would like to think that atheists and other non-Christians would then say ‘thanks, now how can we work this out so everyone is happy.’  But that’s just me. 

    • Au_catboy

       So, DG, you can’t bring yourself to see a problem with segregation?  If all the christan students were being herded into a separate room you would be on your way to set fire to the school.  But when people who aren’t members of your cult are treated like second-class citizens, your brainwashing makes it impossible for you to see anything wrong with it.

      YOU are the one who only cares about your own cult, not any other human being.

      • DG

        Actually, that’s sort of what happened, wasn’t it.  One atheist came up and basically said that what the rest of the people who are Christians want doesn’t matter.  One is an example of segregation, the other tyranny.  I prefer equality.  By the way, all tyranny excuses itself by declaring that the masses who are to be oppressed have it coming because of their evil ways.  So that reasoning doesn’t cut it.  

        • Au_catboy

          No, that isn’t what happened, you delusional death cultist.  What happened was, members of your cult, and ONLY members of your cult, got special treatment from the government.  When someone dared to object, you death cultists whined and screamed like spoiled little children, then proposed SEGREGATION as a solution, so they could keep hijacking the government to  brainwash other people’s children.  Then, because you’re too fucking stupid to see anything wrong with segregation, you babbled nonsense about how tyrranical it is to NOT give special privileges to your cult, and only your cult.  Of course, if any religious group other than yours tried to make hte same argument, you’d never stop screaming, but you’re such a hypocritical lying sack of shit that you can’t admit that. 

          • DG

            There is nothing in the tone or tenor of your response that doesn’t suggest that there are those who secretly pine for the good old days of Soviet approaches to dealing with ‘death cults’ and ‘brainwashing’.  Or was it the opiate of the masses?  No, it’s not religion that has been the evil over time.  It’s that too many hated those who didn’t conform to their religious dogmas.  Replacing it with a hate and contempt of all religion, as the tone of your comment strongly suggests, shows why eliminating religion from the upper strata of society didn’t lead to a utopian paradise after all.

            • Au_catboy

              Has there EVER, in the entire history of the planet, been a SINGLE religous apologist who was physiclaly capable of telling the truth? You are living proof that christianity is a religon of lies, because every single word out of your vile mouth is a lie. 

              • Katherinemch

                Catboy, I share your antipathy to religion, but I gotta say that spewing rage is NOT going to convince anyone of your opinion- people put up their walls when they’re blasted with hostility, and then nothing gets through to them. Diplomacy would make your arguments more powerful!
                The goal of the “anti-lord’s-prayer-in-public-school” crowd is to make schools a place where kids from ALL belief systems feel equal. People like you (and your opponent in this most recent thread) framing it as an atheism-vs-christianity thing are misrepresenting the cause. We want religion to be left outside the door of Public institutions not to spite the faithful, but because debate over religion’s a divisive and distracting thing to add to a situation, and it’s just simpler if people keep their thoughts on it to themselves.
                We want tolerance.
                If you aren’t interested in tolerance, then I wish to emphasize that you DO NOT speak for the rest of us. 

            • Au_catboy

              DG, I know you’re incredibly stupid and a pathological liar, but did you really think anyone would fall for your bullshit red-baiting and forget that you are demanding government endorsement for your religion?  Are you willing to admit that your faith is too weak to survive without government-enforced segregation of anyone with a brain?

              • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

                This has gotten a little carried away. I can concede that his original point has at least some merit. I don’t ultimately agree with it, but it mirrors conventional thinking. He has since digressed. You have called him an incredibly stupid, hypocritical, lying sack of shit, cult follower.  Also, you have used up your daily ALL-CAPS limit.

                • Au_catboy

                  Which of his points do you feel has merit? The point that there’s nothing wrong with segregation?  The point that christians should have special privileges over everyone else?  Or the point that  it’s okay to lie if you’re doing it for jesus?

                • Stev84

                  The point is that you’re going a bit overboard in your insults. DG is an idiot, yes, but insulting him all the time loses its impact. Save it for when he says something truly silly and outrageous.

                • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

                  “Which of his points has merit? “The intuition that when a group of people have benign ritualized traditions, sometimes it seems more polite just to leave it alone. I didn’t say I agreed with him, but some of his arguments are defensible, and understandable. My main point was that you were being  overly aggressive. When my child comes to me with religious nonsense, or odd, counter-factual views, I don’t call her a stupid, hypocritical, sack of shit (At least, not right away). I give her my opinion, and back it up with facts. Even the way you phrased your questions to me was an incitement to aggression.  For the record; I consider christian privilege, segregation, and dishonesty to be bad things. 

        • Stev84

          In your world black is white and up is down. In reality tyranny is allowing the majority to rule over the minority, i.e. allowing Christians to subjugate everyone else.

          You are NOT oppressed. Get off your damn cross

          • DG

            Then let me try another term.  Dictatorship. Either/or.  The results are usually the same.

            • Stev84

              Christians are NOT being oppressed in the western world. You have absolutely no idea what oppression is like.

    • Formercorvguy

      I’ve read your post several times but I’m not sure what you are saying, why shouldn’t christains be OK with this? I suppose a fair minded christian would see the obvious discrimination involved.  

       ”when the school changed everything”  They hardly changed everything they removed a bit of christian privilege that shouldn’t have been there in the first place and now they are replacing it with an equally obnoxious “solution”.  Just because one atheist was the one to complain doesn’t mean the change is to accommodating one person,  this person is the one with the courage to stand up.  Check the stats for the number of young people in Canada don’t believe in the christian godfrom http://www2.canada.com/story.html?id=6421919″ belief in God was lowest (56 per cent) among the youngest group of respondents ” Maybe Alberta is different? No”Belief in God was expressed by 71 per cent of women and 64 per cent of men. Seventy per cent of respondents in both Ontario and Atlantic Canada said they believe God exists, while agreement on the question was slightly lower in Alberta (67 per cent).” They are promoting religion in a public school, there is no place for this schools should be open to all faiths.   People can go the church if they want to pray together, why does this need to be in the school at all?  Don’t tell me tradition, just because it is traditional for public schools to indoctrinate students doesn’t make it right. How many of the so called christain students are actually not and afraid to come out to their parents?  They are forcing people to out themselves as not belonging to the majority faith and therefore opening them to abuse.  If they were segregating black kids I think nobody would have any problem seeing this as wrong, how is this different?

      • DG

        I would think they would see it as wrong.  I didn’t like it.  But then I didn’t like one person walking up to the vacant lot and telling everyone who was playing baseball that either they play their game, or nobody gets to play any game.  I would prefer an open field where everyone can voice and celebrate their diverse opinions and beliefs.  Day of reason!  Sure.  Day of prayer!  You betcha.  But keep it even, and keep it equal.

        • Ellie

          “But keep it even, and keep it equal.”

          Wow, that sounds REALLY familiar for some reason… I wonder if there was a similar policy down in the US around sixty years ago or so…

        • Formercorvguy

          If the administrators happened to be atheist and spent 15 min every morning forcing the students to chant ” gods do not exist” even though half of them did not believe that would that be fair and equal?

          Obviously not, teachers hold a position of power over students and therefore should not be pushing religious agendas in schools.  Keeping it equal means teachers and administrators simply stay out of it, anything else in unequal.

          Although only one person made the complaint it is certain there are many more non-christians in the school, almost 50% if the polls are accurate don’t believe in god.

          • AxeGrrl

            If the administrators happened to be atheist and spent 15 min every morning forcing the students to chant ” gods do not exist” even though half of them did not believe that would that be fair and equal?

            Bingo.

            Hopefully DG will able to appreciate the point with that inversion of the scenario.

        • Katherinemch

          The Christians in this school who support fairness are being bullied too if they stand up for the nonprayers, so they keep quiet. Then there are the large numbers who are actually gloating that they won and get to rule the school again, who seem to want the prayer not out of fondness for the prayer, but mostly to flaunt their power over the minorities. Your belief that there should be tons of sympathetic Christians standing up to advocate a fair solution is wishful thinking. Contrary to what you seem to think, “being Christian” has ziltch to do with “acting like Christ would”. I know it SHOULDN’T be that way, but it is. You’re naiive to expect Christians to do things like loving their neighbor or turning the other cheek. My experience is more that they do things like gossip about you because you swear, or avoid shopping at your store because your brother’s gay. Not to say they’re ALL like that, but my point is that you need to let go of that comforting thought that Christians are motivated by a desire to be nice & good.
          There’s a real mob mentality controlling the majority of parents from this school, where they lose sight of protecting children, of justice, of tolerance, and can only think of crushing the activists. They write to the paper all the time saying it should be “majority rules”. Ugh. I like to counter that with the example of wheelchair accessibility. The majority can walk. Putting in ramps & elevators is costly. But even if we voted & the majority wanted to discard wheelchair accessibility laws, that would obviously be wrong. The disabled shouldn’t lose opportunities just because they’re not the same as the average person.  
          Or here’s an exaggerated example: say that a majority of people in a town are racists and want to drive out the new nonwhite family.  The popularity of an injust opinion doesn’t make it right. Clearly majority opinion is not what matters- what matters is fairness.
          Like you say, it all comes down to equality. Either the spotlight should move around between ALL belief systems, or NONE should get a spotlight. Absolutely agreed!
          I think one of the activist parents did suggest having it be diversity education by using a different religion’s prayer each day, or an uplifting poem or quote in honor of the humanists. The idea was not adopted. The keep-the-prayer faction seems to hate alternative faiths almost as much as they hate atheism. All they want is for the whole world to go Christian, and anything less just angers them.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

       FWIW, I would like to think that the Christians in the school would step up and say something to get this changed so the non-Christian children aren’t treated this way.  But then I would like to think that atheists and other non-Christians would then say ‘thanks, now how can we work this out so everyone is happy.’

      Like maybe replace the broadcast prayer with a moment of silence so everyone can pray or contemplate in their own way?  How would you feel about that as a solution?

      • DG

        If the policy was that silence was appropriate where the topic of religion was concerned, I could live with it.  Just make sure the door swings both ways (that is, no ‘Jesus is a myth’ shirts and the like).  Also, no ‘day of reason’ unless reason includes religion.  Keep the playing field equal, that’s what I think.

        • Au_catboy

           Oh, so now that your cult can no longer get away with trampling everyone else underfoot, NOW you pretend to want an equal playing field?! 

          • DG

            So, you’re living out the famous statement that there’s nothing the persecuted enjoys so much as becoming the persecutor?

            • Au_catboy

              So, as all death cultists do, you forgot that commandment about not bearing false witness.  You know damn fucking well that has nothing to do with anything I said, you’re just making shit up.  But I realize that making shit up and lying about everything is the only way you can keep your fragile faith from crumbling to dust. 

          • Katherinemch

            Catboy I think you misunderstand who this fellow is. He’s said he’s a FORMER christian, not current, and even when he went to church it was the UNITED Church- do you know who they are? They’re the ones with lesbian ministers & stuff. Very openminded version of Christianity. Stop treating him like he’s Fred Phelps!

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I’m not entirely sure you were paying attention to my question, but in any case, do you know who opposed the proposal that the school day start with a moment of silence so every student who wanted to pray could say their own prayer?  And those who didn’t want to didn’t have to listen to one over the school’s speaker system?

          • DG

            Based on the story above, I understood it to be typical of a student/parent who don’t share those beliefs and objecting, wishing any allowance for them in the public school to be eliminated.  Precedence, you know.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              Well, it’s not one parent.  I’m not sure how many are actively opposed as opposed to don’t care, but it seems about 2/3rd of the parents want the kids to all group pray.

              Luke (I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him here) clarifies on his FB page

              To be clear, those of us that had an issue with this over the last couple of years proposed a solution that looks like this; Instead of saying the Lord’s Prayer every day, the children together with their classmates could observe a “moment of personal, silent reflection”. This would allow those of faith (whatever their faith) to pray & those without to perhaps consider their daily goals, or “things to be grateful for”. The point being is it would have kept the children together, with their classmates. And the best part is, the children in the optional religion class (over 50% of the students) could have recited the Lord’s Prayer three times a week in the religion class. Families of faith could still pray together at the breakfast table, or in the car on the way to school, or after school, or in church. They could pray personally everyday, out loud in a group three times a week. But this was not deemed acceptable by the Christian parents.

              I though I’d read that in the school material, but my memory failed that detail.

              Bottom line, the Christian parents want nothing less than group prayer, in school, every day.  The kids who won’t want to are free to go to another room.

              Elsewhere you said you’d have no problem with a completely neutral solution.  But then you brought in private things like t-shirts.  How about government (e.g. schools) stay out of religion?

    • Wittyscreenname

      There were numerous inclusive options proposed to the board including one where everyone was kept together and a 30 seconds of silent reflection was allowed for all kids to pray or contemplate in their own way. In addition, there is an optional religion class 3 times a week they could have siad the prayer out loud, but that wasn’t good enough.The atheists and non-Christians went above and beyond in trying to make this work for all.

    • Katherinemch

      DG, yours is an argument I’ve seen many times (as a person from the region of this school). I think your mistake lies in thinking Luke Fevin & his group want to force others to do something. He started fighting his school when he noticed his girl was being gradually converted against his best efforts, because she was being forced to observe Christian practices. He only wanted to shield his OWN child from indoctrination. Of course you would not want people from other backgrounds trying to convert YOUR child to their faith, right? He wasn’t trying to stop anyone else from having control over their own child’s upbringing either. His suggestion was for a minute of silent reflection as a group (no need to label or segregate anyone) where those who wanted to pray could, & those who wanted to think about earthly things like goals or promising themselves to be good could just do that. Very inclusive!  And of course the school (though there are MANY 100% christian schools in the area & this is supposedly the non option!) offers Christian indoctrination as an “Option” class, so even if the prayer were cancelled we’d still be a long way from eliminating any trace of Christianity from the school.
      Never mind that there are a lot of hours in a day, and even if there were zero church in our schools, Christian families would still be able to attend Christian events every day of the year, whether it be church/sunday school, or church social groups that do crafts or have potlucks. What does it cost the Christians if their lifestyle is not pushed in schools? Other groups practice their culture completely outside of schools, be it a second-generation immigrant kid learning her Grandma’s language; Native kids being taken out fishing to talk about “the old ways” of their ancestors; or in my family, we have some “fitness nuts” who are training their toddlers to be experts about healthfood, stretching, and exercise…everyone’s got their own path to follow! I really wish you’d answer this for me DG: We all pursue our interests in our free time- why isn’t that enough? Why are Christians so adamant that they do their Christian stuff during school?
      Since prayer’s usually silent, kids could actually be praying discretely just about all day long in school if they chose. Unless teachers are given mind-reading devices, no culture can ever truly BAN prayer in public schools. So this issue isn’t really about stopping prayer. It’s about stopping group, out-loud, teacher-led prayer. Why do Christians feel it’s their RIGHT to have this ritual? Why is it so important their kids are made to pray aloud & in unison, during school? Why aren’t private prayers enough to get a kid through the 6h or whatever they’re in school?  
      So I repeat- the goals of this battle have never been to deny christians their freedoms. It is about preventing Christianity being FORCED on families that don’t want it. 

      I actually had a favourite aunt who was an agnostic United Church member. The opinion I got of the organisation through her was positive (and I’ve faced a lot of discrimination over the years at the hands of Christians, so I’m not prone to positive impressions of any church). If you were from the United Church, you have been immersed in “Ned Flanders type Christians”, people who want to be NICE & tolerant like Jesus, so maybe you don’t know how hate-driven more fundamentalist churches are. In rural Alberta I have always encountered tons of people whose Christianity is an excuse to feel superior & heap scorn on others, much the same motives that drive racists. There’s little hope of the Christians in this school voluntarily compromising (They rejected the minute of silence- can you guess why? I can’t. It seems like such a good solution.) They’ve actually really dug in their heels, for over two years now I think, and they peer-pressure each other to ostracise not just the activists  but the activists’ kids (Isn’t that sick? The kids didn’t do a thing!) and some people have actually moved out of town because of the “pitchfork and torch weilding mob” so to speak. These are not WWJD type Christians, more like the witch-burning type it would appear. Do not underestimate how cruel they’ve been.
      The solution seemed at hand a month ago when our Minister of Education announced he’d create a fully secular public school for the area by September (likely by reclassifying one of the many religious schools in the area, but perhaps by building a fresh school). Sadly we had an election a couple weeks later, and the months this man had spent looking into the issue went to waste, as now we have a new Education Minister. Hopefully he’s not going to drag his feet. The last guy shared your view that  surely a bunch of civilized people could work this out on their own. He left it to the community for way too long before he got involved. It’s safe to say after this long, that no, the community cannot sort this out on their own.  The government needs to fix things, and looking at the precedent set by nearly every other province, it seems obvious that sooner or later, the morning prayer ritual will leave all public schools. Rather than drag out all this fighting, why not get in line with the rest of Canada right away?
       Sorry if this is too long- I wanted to discuss with you because you’re one of the only people I’ve encountered who opposes our cause who is actually calm & rational enough to provide an enlightening debate.
      oh, also: I grew up standing outside the room during the Lord’s Prayer at an Alberta Public School. At first I was in agreement with you that it didn’t scar me at all. But then I got thinking, and maybe that was the start of my feeling like an unwelcome outsider in my school. Maybe that’s why I got picked on. Maybe that’s why I’ve always felt threatened & anxious around Christians. Why until a few years ago I was too afraid of bullying to let anyone but close friends know I’m an atheist. Who knows where certain personality traits came from, but it is possible that being repeatedly banished (being sent to stand in the hall was how they punished unruly kids too) during my youth, for the “crime” of not being Christian, did indeed leave scars.  
      If it is tough on atheist kids, imagine how hard it is for immigrant families, where the kid already feels “weird” because he’s new to the culture, has an accent, looks different… and then on top of that he has to stand up and identify as being of a different faith too. If not for this prayer system that kid would be free to keep a low profile &  not advertise his differentness.

      • Katherinemch

        At the beginning when I say “your argument” I mean what you said about the school having to bend over backwards to do what the atheist guy wanted.
        I am REALLY sick of that one.
        Asking for others to NOT convert his child is hardly asking the world to revolve around him!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1283711742 Arlene Dykstra

    I’ve read this blog through a few times.  I was directed to it by my teen son who is an atheist.  I am a Christian but agnostic.  I grew up attending schools of opposite faith to myself and had no difficulty excusing myself from prayers that did not fit or remaining silent through them.

    I am not understanding the frustration shown by the writer here to this solution.

    • Onamission5

      You don’t understand the frustration of government sanctioned segregation based upon a lack of belief in one particular religion, and preferential treatment by the state for those belonging to that religion?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      That’s the problem with having things your way for so long.  You begin to see it not so much “your way” as “the way”.  And even if it’s not “your” way, it still becomes “the” way.

      I’m also curious what faith it was that was ‘opposite’ to yours.  Slightly different perhaps, but surely not ‘opposite’ if you’re a Canadian Christian.  See, that’s “the way” again.  A different version of Christianity automatically comes out as “opposite”.

      (I really should settle on a “quote” ‘pattern’)

      • Arlene

        Opposite was the wrong term.  I started school well 0ver 40 years ago when the two predominant faiths were Catholic and Protestant. At different times we lived in predominantly Catholic communities, and therefore attended Catholic schools as that was all that was offered, but were of the United Church. They are very different in their beliefs and prayers.

    • Au_catboy

       Well, maybe you’d understand if you could put aside your religious brainwashing for an instant and try a little empathy.  Christians have spent centuries robbing, raping, murdering, and torturing anyone not in their cult any chance they got.  There have been a multitude of recent stories of christian bullies driving children to suicide.  And now, christians want to hijack the government and use instructional time in a public school to indoctrinate children into their cult.  And when people dare point out that not everyone in the world is a christian, the only solution offered is to continue offering official government endorsement to christians and segregate the non-christians from the class, making them targets for christian bullying, intimidation, and terrorism.  So, Arlene, can you imagine why someone might object to their tax money being used to promote someone else’s religion and make their children targets for bullying?  Or are you really THAT devoid of empathy? 

      • Joshdcarp

        …So if you were forced to go to a high school that started every day with prayers to Allah, and your only options were either to silently endure every day, or be segregated like cattle into a separate group, you wouldn’t have a problem with that? Really?

        • Arlene

          Joshdcarp, in answer to your question, no I would not.  I have attended worship with people of other faiths, including Buddhism, and have no difficulty with that idea.  If I was in a community where the prevailing faith was Muslim I would stay silent as those who wanted to pray said there prayers.  I believe that is what shows respect for anothers faith. I learned to do that at the age of six.  It is not that hard. 

          With regard to comments about brainwashing I’d like to know what kind of brainwashing someone has who has lived her life as an atheist for a decade and is currently agnostic. 

          Au-catboy, the most vehement bullies I’ve known have been atheists who are adament in their non-faith.  

          Our constitution has enshrined within it the idea that gov’t has to be inclusive of all religions, not exclusive. Recognize and acknowledge differences but also live and let live.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Our constitution has enshrined within it the idea that gov’t has to be inclusive of all religions, not exclusive.

            Exactly!  So instead of having one prayer come over the speakers, when not let each student pray (or not) in their own way with 30 seconds of silence?

    • Au_catboy

      What *I* don’t understand is why christian faith is so pitifully weak that it can’t survive without constant government endorsement. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Kozak/687285844 Eric Kozak

    Just want to point out that unlike the US, Canada does not have a separation of church and state.  And, the opening line of the Charter is: “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law”

    Just pointing this out.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Most developed western countries don’t have separation of church and state codified in their constitution, yet most manage to maintain a greater degree of separation in actual practice that the U.S., which does.

      What will be interesting in this case is how it’s resolved, not so much that it happened in the first place.

    • Stev84

      Even without a strict separation of church and state and its anomalous school system, Canada is still a far more secular country than the US. So is almost every other western country.

  • Clare45

    How many teenage kids would actually get to school 10 minutes earlier than the non-Christians just to say the Lord Prayer?  If this was the rule, then I expect there would be many more in the non-Christian group. When I was a kid  I would say the prayer but not say “Amen” as a compromise. I am sure there are lots of Alberta kids who feel the same way.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is an astonishingly stupid idea. It seems to be deliberately spiteful,  consciously intended to cause difficulty for the children and their parents who don’t want to pray in public school.  I think it’s an attempt to get the secular parents to give in, shut up, and/or take their children elsewhere.

    This will create a faction of in-group and out-group, with a strong message to the kids in both groups that the other group is not fit to be in their company, that they’re dangerous and inferior, and must be avoided, even repulsed. It will tell the kids that differences in religious viewpoints are what we should use to divide us.  The non-praying group will most likely be the minority, so they will become the subjects of bullying by the praying group, all with the implied approval of the school faculty and administration.

    Once the social ostracizing and bullying starts, this will bring a long line of angry parents waiting to complain to the Principal about how their kid is being mistreated, and then a series of expensive lawsuits against the school district. 

    When you do something stupid and destructive just to be spiteful, it comes back to bite you in the ass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chriswarr78 Chris Warren

    I actually quite like the Lord’s Prayer. I enjoy how the classroom or gymnasium takes on the character of a Borg cube, as it resonates with mindless solidarity. It is really charming.

  • Atheist

    you made me ashamed to be a Canadian. congratulations you ignorant cunts….

    • Eclipse

       Dude, my vagina had nothing to do with this piece of awful privileged nonsense.

  • http://twitter.com/Pross182 Pross182

    “Daddy why do we have to go to a different classroom?” “Because son, those people have to talk to their imaginary friend”

  • Jerry Steinberg

    When I was a kid in school — PUBLIC school, I should add — many years ago, a
    minister/priest frequently came into our classroom and preached to us. I felt
    completely alienated by this activity — both from the activity, and from my
    friends.

    I told my teacher how I felt, and was told that I could leave
    the room when the preacher visited. To me, that was just exacerbating the
    alienation.

    I have no objection to religious schools — as long as they
    are privately funded, and follow the prescribed curriculum.

    I wouldn’t
    object to an Ethics and Comparative Religions course being taught in all schools
    – public, private and religious — as long as it included Agnosticism and
    Atheism (as one billion of the world’s 7 billion people do not profess belief in
    any religion), along with all 21 of the world’s major religions, and all of the
    hundreds of minor ones, as well.

    I actually find it interesting (and
    often amusing) when I learn what is required of believers of various religions
    (such as entering a bathroom on your left foot only, paying money to the church
    in your neighborhood even if you don’t even visit it, swinging a live chicken
    around one’s head to transfer one’s sins to the chicken — animal cruelty?,
    fasting during the day for an entire month, not making love during a woman’s
    period, believing that its practitioners possess the ability to diagnose and
    cure human suffering and the ability to control the weather and interpret
    dreams, forcing women to cover themselves from head to toe — leaving only their
    eyes visible (through a mesh screen), having many more children than you can
    afford and tolerate, and much more).

    If a religious person is good, it’s
    because they think there’s a supernatural, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful
    deity watching and judging them.

    If an atheist is good, it’s because they
    respect others and they live by the Golden Rule.

    As one of my best
    friends often said, “Religion is nothing more than some people’s way of
    controlling others.”

    Every religion claims that they are right and everyone
    else is wrong. If it’s true, they’re all wrong.

    Jerry Steinberg

  • Jerry Steinberg

    If you don’t pray in my schools, I promise not to think in your churches.

    Jerry Steinberg

  • Sue Blue

    Great.  Way to single out groups and pit them against one another, Alberta.  Why not just paint them different colors….wait, that kind of segregation was tried too, and it didn’t improve race relations one iota, did it?  Come on, the Christian kids can pray all they want at home; they can genuflect and clasp their hands together and talk to themselves all the way to school; the Muslim kids can carpet-munch at home or on public sidewalks or whatever, and the Transcendental Meditationalists can bend themselves into pretzels while waiting for the school bus…but once on school grounds everybody should just be people focusing on education.  Don’t like it?  Need more religion in your kids’ day?  Homeschool.  Send ‘em to private religious schools.  Public schools are for the public, not for your particular brand of religion. 

    • Katherinemch

      FYI, we have publically-funded schools that push Catholicism in every hour of every subject. Many of us feel that there should be ONE public school system, but that is another topic. My point is that the intensely Bible-loving folks have a choice of sending their kid to a FREE school where their kid will be indoctrinated for them at the taxpayer’s expense. The PUBLIC half of the split system is supposed to be for “the rest of us”.
      It just blows my mind that there are people fighting so hard to have Christianity play a role in the Public School when they already have the entire Catholic School System.

      Ask some of the locals on the pro-prayer side of this issue where they expect the nonchristians of their community to go if the Public School is going to be pushing Christianity. Know what they say? ”They should move. This is a Christian community.” This isn’t hypothetical- that actually is what many of them have publically said. They want to run the minorities out of town, essentially. 
      Sadly, here in Alberta we have a big problem with minority-hating rednecks. But don’t hate the whole province! There are also people here like Luke Fevin who are willing to stand up to the bullies and fight for justice! So there’s hope for the province! 

    • Still a Christian

      First you write about your dislike of segregation, then you endorse segregation for kids that like to pray. 

  • PollyAmory

    Are they only accommodating Christian students this way? What if Muslim or Jewish kids wish to pray in school as well? Do they get their own special classroom? 

    • Katherinemch

       Nope. The only reason this is legal at all is that Alberta has some century-old laws still in place that happen to permit “the Lord’s Prayer”. It doesn’t say “whatever religious practices the local parents request”, just “the Lord’s Prayer”. So it’s not a slap in the face to atheists but also to Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Wiccans, Hindus. That’s the craziest part, that it’s so biased. It seems like government run PUBLIC schools pushing Christianity as if it’s superior to all other cultures aught to be illegal, doesn’t it?
       It’s a stupid rule anyway and it contradicts some Federal laws, but nobody’s taken it off the books, and until someone fights to remove it, it’s still technically the rule, even though it’s discriminatory, uncanadian, and a dozen other tyes of wrong.

  • Mel

    I grew up in that town, and it’s not surprising they would pull something like this. 

  • Julie Cowe

    Oh, it’s just like religious instruction in our Australian schools! Kids can opt out and go do some lonely reading in the hallway, often unsupervised, while the Christian kids get to play games, learn about the bible and sing! How typically bullshit.

  • Satia Renee

    Just yesterday I watched this video in this blog and nobody seemed to comment on part of the debate:

    http://youtu.be/Wd2F5mwAWG4?t=1h18m6s

    So the same solution is being used nearly 50 years later.

    The lack of progress is exhausting.  (And if someone else noticed the correlation between this post and yesterday’s, I am sorry if I’ve repeated your observation.  I obviously overlooked it unintentionally.

  • Luke_Fevin

    First of all, a big Thank You for all the comments, tweets & facebook messages in support of our fight here regarding this issue.
    You can follow this issue by following me @According2Luke:disqus  or the FaceBook group 
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/APUPIL/  I appreciate all the support both locally & internationally.FTR: I think Hemant misunderstood the context of Paula Simons quote “It’s a step in the right direction”. She was comparing the old policy of forcing everybody to observe the Lord’s Prayer with the new policy of segregation the kids. Paula has been a great supporter of our cause and has my utmost respect.
    The issue is at heart a very simple one. We have in Canada the Charter of Rights & Freedoms which accords Freedom of religion, freedom from religion & freedom from coercion together with equality for all (relative to this issue).
    In 1988 in Zylberg V Sudbury Board of Education the Ontario Court of Appeal found that the regulation allowing the Lord’s Prayer ” infringed religious freedom because schools could use only the Lord’s Prayer rather than a more inclusive approach. It was argued that the exemption provision effectively stigmatized children and coerced them into a religious observance which was offensive to them.”

    The Ontario Court of Appeal was persuaded by the argument that the need to seek exemption from Christian exercises is itself a form of religious discrimination. The judges described as “insensitive” the position of the respondents that it was beneficial for the minority children to confront the fact of their difference from the majority.So it is clear, it has been ruled to deny children their freedom from religion and as such the practice has ceased across Canada. Except in Alberta, where this provision from the 1905 School Act still allows for it. It got rolled into the Alberta Constitution and as such supersedes the Canadian Charter.

    So the issue is not that it is illegal. It appears it is (Although there is the potential for a Charter challenge on the grounds that they can still perform the prayer, but the process must still meet the Charter. We will see.)

    The issue is that given a panel of senior Canadian judges ruled this way on this issue, why would a Public school board then go and enact such a policy. And this is our frustration. We are not trying to remove the optional Christian religion classes from the school. We are not trying to remove Christmas. We don’t even want to stop the Christians from praying.

    We simply asked if we could not segregate our children for the purpose of worship, and specifically so that only one faith could pray. We suggested an inclusive moment of personal reflection 5 days a week & that the Christians could pray out loud in a group in their religion class a further 3 days a week. It is sad that this seemingly fair & inclusive option was rejected.

    Apparently, only Christians praying 5 days a week out loud in groups is the only acceptable solution.

    Again, I Thank You for your support & encourage you to follow me on twitter @According2Luk:disqus e for further updates. We also have a petition at 
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/inclusive-secular-public-schools.html 
    Sincerely, Luke fevin

  • Brittlewis

    In my part of Australia, if you opt your child out of scripture classes they are herded together in a separate class to sit around watching Tele or reading. Anything more useful is forbidden lest the kids in scripture miss out. This is in Government funded public schools. The St James ethics centre, among others, has attempted to trial ethics classes for those kids and any others who wish to attend as an alternative to scripture. But of course the christian right are not playing ball. A valuable and beneficial alternative is just too big a threat.  drawhttp://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/keep-your-politics-out-of-our-classrooms-mr-nile-20110801-1i77c.html 

  • JohnK

    “How are Christian parents in the area ok with this?! ”…They’re OK with it because their kids still get to do a morning prayer, instead of being bullied by a single parent whose feathers are ruffled because his kids are exposed to prayer.

    • Katherinemch

      To characterize this man’s struggle to prevent his child being converted BY A PUBLIC SCHOOL as “bullying” is irrational. Do you also call it bullying when a company hires its first woman & then the guys aren’t allowed to leave Playboy magazines lying around in the break room anymore? Or if an all-white workplace gets its first nonwhite and suddenly racist jokes are frowned on WAY more than they used to be? I hope NOT! Protecting minorities is the right thing to do and the slight inconvenience to the majority is well worth it, for those of us concerned with equality.
      I went to my friend’s church with her once in highschool; THAT is being “exposed” to religion. What this morning prayer entails is different. It’s not just a one time thing like a field trip but a part of every single school day. It being run by the school implies that the school/gov’t endorses Christianity (and kids can be very impressed by authority figures’ guidance). This in turn implies that Christianity is the normal or right path and other beliefs are peculiar, perhaps even incorrect. This isn’t in a religious school, remember, but in a public one where every child is supposed to feel safe & equal. The original method of this school was to blare the prayer over the intercom, and they also have the habit of throwing some prayers & hymns into the assemblies, so the “atheist” kids were actually starting to get persuaded, and nobody has the right to convert someone else’s kid! If you had kids in a school that was pushing a lot of Sikh faith for example, and you realised they were starting to buy into it, would you bite your tongue and passively watch the conversion take hold, or would you “be a bully” and say to the school ”Hey guys, WTF, my kid’s supposed to be learning math & spelling here, that’s all, so leave her alone!” ? I certainly would step in if it were me. This new method where the kids go to different rooms to either pray Christian or not pray at all (Other faiths are being unfairly ignored in this, by the way.) is less offensive because hopefully nobody will be converted, but it isn’t fair to all either. Everyone can see each other going to one room or the other, so now everyone will know each other’s family religion, which really people aught to be allowed to keep private if they want. Especially when bullying and cliques are such huge problems in schools to begin with, this public “outing” of nonchristians is a bad idea, and certain to give the mean kids one more thing to pick on others about, and the insecure kids one more thing to feel insecure about. Splitting the kids up encourages an “us/them” view rather than the multicultural mosaic view which encourages young Canadians to take joy in our diversity. Why separate them? People generally have a best friend or two- if friends are of different religious backgrounds (which they may have never even noticed otherwise), they will now have to start the day apart rather than together. The splitting up will show who is what, so prejudiced parents will be enabled to forbid their kid from hanging out with another kid with a different family faith. Kids could lose friendships over this!
      The obvious solution, which was proposed by this “bullying single whiner” (actually not so “single”… he’s not even the only spokesperson for the non-prayers, much less the only nonprayer) was to have a silent prayer/reflection time. This would have kept it private what each child was saying or not saying and to what deity, as it should be. It would have been easier on teachers than trying to herd the kids around to prayer/nonprayer assemblies. It would have been a perfect solution in my opinion, but it was not accepted. Perhaps because it would lower Christianity from a privileged position to mere equality with other cultures? If you can think of any reason OTHER than Christian hubris that this solution wasn’t acceptable, I’d love to hear it.
        

  • Gus Snarp

    This is just repugnant. We may have our problems in the U.S., but at the very least this would clearly be illegal here. You guys need to amend your constitution.

    • Katherinemch

      The Canadian constitution (AKA The Charter) is just fine, actually. The problem is an old piece of legislation still alive in Alberta which contradicts the federal stand. To get it off the books would take quite a bit of fuss, which it seems we may be headed for.  I’m pretty sure our provincial leaders could ignore it & just follow the Charter but they are likely afraid to tick off all the rightwing voters in this redneck province. FYI, the wording of this archaic loophole allows for ONLY the Lord’s Prayer, so if a school is 3/4 Jews for example, they would not have the same freedom to do Jewish prayer. The only options (in a Public school- we have separate tax-funded religious schools as well which is a whole other debate) are the Lord’s Prayer or nothing! Yep, pretty unfair eh? We really need to get the stupid loophole taken OFF the books.

  • JK

    Here’s a thought, if a group of Christian students want to pray, how about they do it at home?

  • CHRISTIANSPEAKUP!

    OH but it’s ok for a school board to allow a group to use a school library during Ramadan for their rituals? BUT CHRISTIANS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PRAY IN CLASSROOMS????? I remember when I was a child we said the Lord’s prayer EVERY SINGLE MORNING!!! And if a parents didn’t want their child involved that child simply stood in the hallway while the prayer was said. There is NO reason whatsoever that CHRISTIAN STUDENTS should not be able to prayer WITH OR WITHOUT the other NON CHRISTIAN STUDENTS. We are after all in a very very mulicultural country. And  dont’ we teach our children respect and acceptance of everyone?? Where is the teaching then if we tell one group they are not allowed to pray but other groups are allowed to carry out their practices???? It’s funny we can’t call it a CHRISTMAS TREE anymore but there are many who say they aren’t CHRISTIANS but still observe CHRISTMAS. DOES ANYONE NOT REMEMBER WHY WE HAVE SUCH A HOLIDAY IN THE FIRST PLACE??????? As Adults we should look at what this is teaching our children. One minute we are teaching them to accept everyone regardless of race or religion and the next we are saying this groups ways are acceptable but the other group is not. Think about it people.
    PRAISE GOD HALLELUJAH and AMEN

  • Ellie Wax

    I am curious….is it the same in CAN as the US….if your child goes to a Private school, you STILL have to pay public school taxes?  Seem to me the solution would be, allow Christian, and other religions, to send their kids to private schools where they pay tuition, while alleviating them from paying public school taxes.  Personally, I don’t think the kids have the problems with it that the “adults” seem to!  LOL

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Nedra-Bill/100000588680699 Bill Nedra Bill

    Whether or not you believe in God, the fact is the school accommodates prayer. If you do not like your kid being apart of it, simply ask for him not to be included. WHY now that the school has done just that you are crying foul? It is OBVIOUS you have an agenda far more than your child not being ‘indoctrinated’, your agenda is to trample on the rights of those who care to believe in a god and to pray! It is a public school and just as how you pay taxes, so too those kids’ parents who are praying. It is NOT fair that the school should end praying simply because YOU object to it. What about those who want it, don’t they have rights too?