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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Public School will segregate students based on religion this fall.

I can't believe that a public school is moving forward with a decision to segregate students on the basis of religion this fall. This is 2012 for crying out loud! Canada is susposed to be a multicultural society, not a christian one. I just don't get it.

Luke Fevin - one of the leaders in trying to promote the removal of christian prayer from classrooms at Sturgeon Heights - has exactly captured what this form means.
Dear Parent, could you please indicate which room of random students you would like your children to be with each morning when they sing "Oh Canada" & get publicly acknowledged for their birthdays & achievements.

Please ignore the fact that the majority will be praying & to select non-praying may have your family judged & ostricized, or your children stigmatized & separated from their friends.
You can read more about the issue here.


  1. If I'm not mistaken, this was a response by parents who wanted the Lord's Prayer put BACK into this particular school because it had been removed.

    From my perspective, this would be segregating the religious, not the non-religious in an attempt to not offend the sensibilities of the non-religious in the school..where there clearly have been issues in the past.

    I am interested though in this idea. Instead of stripping away things, maybe we should accommodate EVERYONE. Perhaps in public school we should embrace EVERYONE instead of stripping everything to the base, in order to try to avoid offending ANYONE. Could we allow some time in school for Muslims to pray and bless the classroom each morning? How about a school break for Hanukkah? But it's about religion isn't it...this issue? People don't want religion to be in the public schools. Even the Catholic schools are having their mandates stripped away. To go even farther, school programs like LOGOS, who have specifically separated themselves from the mainstream Elementary programming are offending the non-religious. It's a lose-lose for anyone that wants to be religious in schools.

    It baffles my brain why it is OK for one group to dictate the experiences of everyone else. You don't want religion in schools? Well they do. How does that justify stripping all religion out of the school system? And why aren't we allowing the non-religious the opportunity to a curriculum that suits them? So how about we cater to BOTH groups? Why does it always have to come down to one or the other??

    Personally, I think this is an AWESOME solution and it's all at how you look at it. Clearly there will be those who are offended, and others like me might think it is the perfect solution to TRUE inclusiveness.

    1. Kris, you keep saying that some people want religion in school & some don't so why can't everyone get their way... but that's the whole point of having a separate school system! those who want religion should go to religious school, not try to turn public school religious.
      I have not heard anyone complain about the LOGOS program, as in fact the secular fight is not about being anti-faith, it is about wanting to keep schools focussed on SCHOOL rather than dragging controversial private information out of kids. THAT is the ostracism worry. When the school is offering ONLY CHRISTIAN PRAYER, it sends the message that Christianity is the government religion or the "normal" culture, which encourages the kids to label themselves accordingly, which is unhealthy. Kids often don't even understand religion yet, and many of us grow up to NOT share our parents' beliefs, so making the kids go to different rooms based on religious affiliation is asking them a very private question (one they may not be comfortable answering or not yet have an answer to) in front of their peers, their bullies & crushes & rivals & BFFs. This will be nervewracking for kids who are from a nonchristian family, as well as any kids who secretly believe something different than what their parents think. You say the Christians are the ones segregated & I see your point, but really any segregation acts on everyone, on both sides of the division. Whenever people are sorted & one group's way bigger, the smaller group is sort of put in a spotlight & made to feel self-conscious.
      Schools are already rife with peer pressure and cliques and bullying. The thing about the TRULY inclusive options that WERE proposed- do all religions & make it a learning exercise, or do a nonreligious statement ("I promise to try my best to be kind & fair, and to work at my studies out of respect for myself" etc, for example) to set the desired tone, or have a minute of silence where people can think or pray silently without it being a performance- the point of all these options is that they wouldn't "out" any kid who wasn't comfortable letting the whole school know his or her religious situation. Once people have to go to different rooms, nobody can keep the very personal issue of their beliefs to themselves. This encourages the type of bullying and exclusion that happen whenever a schoolkid is noticed by his or her peers to be "different". It sets the kids from nonchristian backgrounds up to be outsiders, while it points out to the Christian-families' kids that they're the majority, with the power of being a majority.
      This will create a school where religion-based conflicts are inevitable. Of course the minority will be hurt, not the majority, so it is the nonchristians' kids we worry about.
      I will close with another reminder that this region has a TON of Catholic Schools for those who can't get enough religion in their home & church. This situation is in a PUBLIC school, where no faith is supposed to be endorsed. Yet here they are, clearly endorsing Christianity (by refusing to do anyone else's prayer).
      Anyone who was weird in any way as a kid (even just having glasses!) should be able to put themselves in the shoes of the minority kids who the segregation system outs as being "other" or weirdos. This puts unnecessary stress on kids over an issue they shouldn't have to deal with at their age (it's their parents' faith, not really their own faith yet for young kids), and increases the odds of bullying.

    2. The religious debate really sucks maximum suckage. There aren't any options for non-Catholics in any school system. And the non-religious and religious groups won't ever be able to find a happy medium, not EVER.

      It's maddening, and ridiculous to the point where I think human kind is actually devolving when it comes to this issue.

      I don't see why having the religious kids excuse themselves from the rest of the group to pray is a problem any more than taking all the "enrichment" kids out of regular class to go to their *we're smarter than you* special programming every day. But that's just me. MEH.

      I used to work in a LOGOS program. The in-fighting for that programming is just as bad.

      Like I said, I weep for humankind...there is no good solution. I just have to keep remembering 'you can't make everyone happy 100% of the time'...and boy is that ever true.

  2. Actually the group that opposed this christian prayer proposed two more inclusive solutions - one included a moment of silent reflection where everyone could do as they wanted silently and another where they rotated the type of prayer said, or a reflective thought about shared values. As well, there is an optional christian course offered 3 times a week in which students pray - why isn't that enough? But no, this response is about promoting a christian prayer over all others. It's not about tolerance or inclusion at all.

    The christians were the ones dictating their preference on everyone else initially - there was no way to opt out as the prayer was said over the intercom. Someone proposed a more inclusive option, it was denied, and this monstrosity was drawn up as an acceptable option. This is a case of the majority infringing on the rights of the minority.

    Personally, I think it would be more fair to allow for a more multi-cultual experience in public schools if possible, but I think that accomodating all religions in a public school may be too draining on the public purse, and the way its done now heavily prefers the christian religion.

  3. I'm so glad that this isn't an issue at my children's school. The idea that children have to be segregated to avoid religious indoctrination in a public school is very upsetting. As an atheist I'm not offended by the Lord's Prayer but I sure don't want my children to have to learn it by rote and repeat it on a daily basis any more than a Christian parent would want their child praying to Allah every morning. Think about it, would you be okay with your kids repeating something like this every day?

    "Praise is only for Allah, Lord of the Universe.
    The most Kind, the most Merciful.
    The master of the Day of Judgement.
    You alone we worship and to you alone we pray for help.
    Show us the straight way,
    The way of those whom you have blessed.
    Who have not deserved your anger,
    Nor gone astray."

    If religion is such an important part of your lives as a family then pray together every morning BEFORE school, pray together every night, go to church every Sunday, go to church events during the week. Fill your boots. No one is going to take that away from you it's your right and your choice but it doesn't belong in a public school. Public school is for everyone. It should be a welcoming place for all children in the community and not only the Christian ones.

    I would have no problem with a world religions/comparative religion unit in Social Studies. But daily reciting the prayer of one religion isn't anywhere near to doing that.


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