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