Suggestions for T. Baklinski

Dear Thaddeus Baklinski,

This is Christina Stephens, Awesome Editor of Reasonableness. Thank you for taking the time to submit your article, “Principal stops students from saying Lord’s Prayer in Alberta public school after one complaint” to me so that I may offer up my editorial suggestions.

I understand your passion for reason, and I especially resonate with your passion for the importance of freedom of religion. As such, I would like to offer up the following suggestions to improve your article. Let us begin:

TABER, Alberta, November 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A single parental complaint has resulted in Christian prayer being removed from a school that has a long history of saying the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of classes each day.

Students and staff at Dr. Hamman Elementary School in the tiny southern Alberta town of Taber (population approximately 8,000) no longer pray because Melanie Bell, mother of two children in the school, voiced her concerns in a letter to principal Darlene Peckford.

“It is the only public school in Taber that still recites the Lord’s Prayer,” said Bell in an interview with the Lethbridge Herald the day after the decision banning prayer in the school.

My suggestions for improvement:

A public school in Alberta has been violating the religious freedoms of schoolchildren for what may have been years until one concerned citizen had the courage to stand up for her country and for her children.

Melanie Bell recently discovered her children were being subjected to “The Lords Prayer” at their school. Concerned, she penned a letter reminding the principal Darlene Peckford that forcing children to recite “The Lords Prayer” at the beginning of classes each day ostracizes them and violates their religious freedom.

Continued...

Bell, who describes herself as an agnostic, claims that prayer in the school causes her children anxiety, and they have come home crying because of it.

“I feel religion has no need in the public school system,” said Bell, adding that hearing the Lord’s Prayer over the school’s P.A. system is a violation of her children’s human rights of freedom of religion.

While the school tried to accommodate Bell’s children by allowing them to leave the classroom during morning exercises or to simply not say the prayer along with the other children, Bell responded that “my kids would be likely picked on or bullied because we do not participate in the Christian faith.”

“As a society and a school community we strive to teach acceptance of others and the importance of diversity, but where is the acceptance of others who do not practice the Christian religion,” wrote Bell in her letter to Principal Peckford. “Everyone has the right to practice their religion. But not in a public school.”

In the end the school capitulated to Bell’s request.

My suggestions for improvement:

Bell, an agnostic, says that prayer in the school causes her children anxiety, and they have come home crying because of it.

“I feel religion has no need in the public school system,” said Bell, adding that hearing the Lord’s Prayer over the school’s P.A. system is a violation of her children’s human rights of freedom of religion.

When the school attempted to implement a blatantly discriminatory “accommodation” by forcing her children to say the prayer, listen to the prayer, or be isolated from peers by waiting outside in the hallway, Bell responded that “my kids would be likely picked on or bullied because we do not participate in the Christian faith.”

“As a society and a school community we strive to teach acceptance of others and the importance of diversity, but where is the acceptance of others who do not practice the Christian religion,” wrote Bell in her letter to Principal Peckford. “Everyone has the right to practice their religion. But not in a public school.”

In the end, the school realized that forcing children to listen to sectarian prayers violates their human rights, and forcing them to wait out in the hall is not accommodation, but segregation.

Let’s continue…

Other parents, however, are determined to have the prayer reinstated at Dr. Hamman Elementary School.

They are upset that the decision was made unilaterally.

“We want to get at least an opportunity to vote, because it was just one person who made the request and there was no warning for the rest of us,” said Tonya Torrie, a concerned parent of three children who attend Dr. Hamman.

“We aren’t mad, but we want to have the right to say what we want to say. I just don’t think it’s right for one person to make a decision that affects everyone else,” Torrie told the Lethbridge Herald.

Torrie said that the school board, Horizon School Division No. 67, has always been supportive of parents’ input into the education of their children and believes the board will continue to act appropriately.

She suggested the school may be able to “find some middle ground,” such as saying “the Lord’s Prayer once a week, or the Lord’s Prayer before school.”

Here are my suggestions:

Other parents, however, are determined to force their religion upon the minds of children in a public school, a place which is supposed to be free of such sectarian trappings.

They are upset that the school has chosen to remain nonsectarian.

“We want to get at least an opportunity to vote, because it was just one person who made the request and there was no warning for the rest of us,” said Tonya Torrie, a concerned parent of three children who attend Dr. Hamman.

“We aren’t mad, but we want to have the right to say what we want to say. I just don’t think it’s right for one person to make a decision that affects everyone else,” Torrie told the Lethbridge Herald.

Torrie said that the school board, Horizon School Division No. 67, has always been supportive of parents’ input into the education of their children and believes the board will continue to act appropriately.

She suggested the school may be able to “find some middle ground,” such as saying “the Lord’s Prayer once a week, or the Lord’s Prayer before school.”

However, she fails to realize that the real “middle ground”  is not having prayers in public schools at all.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. If we cannot be neutral in the language we use when reporting issues, we may as well be correct.

Sincerely,

Christina Stephens

P.S. you may consider changing the title, “Principal stops students from saying Lord’s Prayer in Alberta public school after one complaint” to, “Mother gets public school to stop forcing children to recite Lord’s Prayer”.

Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

 

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