No longer to be given daily Lord's Prayer

13th August 1999 at 01:00
CANADA: CHILDREN are no longer to listen to the Lord's Prayer at the start of the school day, on the grounds that it could cause them psychological harm.

The ruling, from the Human Rights Commission of Saskatchewan, brings to an end a century-old practice. By sanctioning the reciting of the Lord's Prayer to pupils, the Saskatoon school board has relied on "antiquated thinking" that offends the religious and multicultural guarantees in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, according to Mr Justice Halvorson.

The case began six years ago when Rosanna Langer launched a complaint on behalf of her daughter who was then in kindergarten. Ms Langer charged that her daughter was being discriminated against because she was Jewish and that the options of not standing for the prayer or leaving the class were not an answer.

Supporting the Saskatoon school board, the Province of

Saskatchewan argued that the recitation of the Lord's Prayer was protected by the Canadian Constitution.

This was because the agreement which brought the province into Canadian Confederation said that the schools would have a "religious character".

In addition, the province noted that the Education Act authorises the Lord's Prayer or some other Bible reading.

Mr Justice Halvorson ruled that these arguments were not strong enough to justify the discrimination in having the prayer of one religious group as an authorised part of the school day.

He accepted the arguments advanced by B'Nai Brith Canada, that forced recitation of the Lord's Prayer could be psychologically harmful to both the minority and the majority groups.

"The minority may feel a lack of self esteem fostering identity crises and rejection of their faith. Even the majority dominant group can suffer adversely. A feeling of superiority can lead to school-yard bullying, demeaning of others, and later, even totalitarianism," said the judge.

This decision follows similar ones in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now