A Moose Jaw public school is changing how it tackles the divisive subject of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in the mornings.
Lindale Elementary School announced in its newsletter that it will no longer broadcast the Lord’s Prayer in the mornings.
From the newsletter:
“A decision has been made that we will, instead of broadcasting the Lord’s Prayer, offer a brief moment of reflection each day to students … Some may continue to contemplate the Lord’s Prayer and others not. It will be a ‘mindful moment’.”
The change came after Dusti Hennenfent wrote to the principal asking the school get rid of the prayer.
She said this change is another step the school has taken to ensure all students feel included.
“Lindale school works terrifically hard to be inclusive and supportive and a really welcoming environment,” Hennenfent said. “For the most part, they have done a terrific job of that. So I am really thrilled that they have added this in as yet another way to be inclusive, supportive, and respectful of all the students.”
Hennenfent thought having the Lord’s Prayer recited every day in the school “didn’t recognize the students’ right to freedom of religion.”
The decision was met with mixed reactions according to Hennenfent.
“I’ve gotten messages and phone calls and texts and those kinds of things of support, as well as people who are not happy with me for even bringing this to fruition. Any time you have something like this there are passionate opinions on both sides.”
Hennenfent also said she is glad kids will no longer have to choose to leave the classroom during the prayer due to their different religious beliefs.
The School Division
On Friday, the chair of Prairie South Schools, Dr. Shawn Davidson, wrote an open letter with a different take on what the change means.
The letter stated the Lord’s Prayer was not being taken out of the school. Davidson wrote the change is that the prayer is no longer being broadcast over the public address system in the school.
“Students … can most certainly still recite the Lord’s Prayer out loud during the ‘Mindful Moment’.”
In the letter, Davidson said the broadcast of the prayer was discontinued because it was not expressly authorized by The Education Act of Saskatchewan.
“There was no direction from the School Board or Administration requiring silence during the ‘Mindful Moment’, but rather the option for anyone not wanting to recite a prayer or meaningful passage out loud to remain silent if they so choose.”
Davidson went on to write that the opportunity to recite the prayer has not been taken away from students, it’s just that the way they can enjoy that opportunity has changed.