Friday, January 15, 2016

Sask. legislation that would ban prayers in public schools

Dusti Hennenfent, a mother in Moose Jaw, is seeking a change in provincial legislation that would stop prayers from taking place in public schools. William Stodalka / The Moose Jaw Times Herald
 Saskatoon StarPhoenix:
  When Dusti Hennenfent dropped off her child late at Lindale Elementary School in Moose Jaw after a dentist appointment, she was “quite surprised” to hear the Lord’s Prayer being recited over the school’s intercom system. 
   “I didn’t even realize that a public school would still have that as a practice,” said the mother of two and Moose Jaw resident.
   Last year, Hennenfent raised concerns with her school’s principal and the division. In early December, the Prairie South School Division ordered the Lindale School Community Council (SCC) to consult with members of the community about whether to keep the prayer in school.
   The findings, presented at a Jan. 5 board meeting, indicated “from parent responses and SCC deliberation, the SCC determine that it was the will of the Lindale School community to continue reciting the Lord’s Prayer during opening activities.”
   It indicated 70 per cent of parents were consulted and 152 of the 166 parents were in favour of keeping the prayer.
   While Hennenfent said she and her children have a good relationship with Lindale School overall, she believes the recital of the prayer may be harmful and has started a petition asking for amendments to the Education Act.
   Under Section 182(3) of the Education Act, authorities or divisions are allowed to approve the reading of the Lord’s Prayer, but “a student may be excused from participating in these exercises or any courses of religious instruction.”
   “Honestly, I don’t understand the purpose of (the recital of the prayer),” Hennenfent said, noting while she would be in favour of a comparative religion class, she feels the prayer itself may isolate certain members of the school community.
   “Is this is a school-sponsored religion?” she asked. “Is there recognition that not all students are Christian and if there’s recognition of that, is the purpose that perhaps maybe they all should be Christian?”
   With both Saskatchewan and Moose Jaw becoming more culturally and religiously diverse, she said the recital does not respect or value that diversity...Read more>>

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