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Prayer decision part of democratic process

Posted on June 10, 2015 by Taber Times

This letter is in response to the article featuring Glenda Richards and the Letter to the Editor written by Audrey Swap regarding the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at Dr. Hamman School as printed in the Times issue of 27 May, 2015.

First of all, the decision to reinstate the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer was a result of the majority of parents requesting that this practice be implemented according to the policy set by the elected officials of the Horizon School Division. All was done according to democratic principles and practices.

In a democracy such as ours the majority on any issue overrules any minority preferences. However, there is provision made to rectify any regulation that unduly tramples upon the rights of any person or group of people. In the case of the Lord’s Prayer any parents may request that their children either leave the classroom or stand silently while the prayer is being offered.

My experience in the classroom showed me that children who chose not to be present during the prayer were never teased, taunted or ridiculed by their decision to leave. Some parents requested that children not be present during the singing of our national anthem or participating in Christmas or other Christian celebrations. No child to my knowledge suffered any put-downs or embarrassing questions about these actions. In fact, the children always supported those who withdrew from any of these activities even to the point of respectfully reminding the teacher why certain children were away for any activity.

However, it is the parents’ right and obligation to protect their children from anything that would harm them physically, emotionally or psychologically. It is also their right and obligation to help their children learn how democracy operates in their lives to provide them and others with the greatest freedoms for inquiry, expression, religious beliefs and conscience.

So what can a parent do? She or he can teach them a profound respect for democracy and acknowledge that it is not a perfect form of government. But once a decision has been made we must honour it and find ways legally to challenge it or live within the parameters it prescribes all the while not being disagreeable in our disagreements if we feel it is patently unfair.

There are many causes that require a determined, sometimes passionate and always a knowledgeable understanding of the issues and complexities of the cause. Some that beg for a resolution that our two proponents for just answers could tackle are pornography and child pornography, child sex-trade, abuse of children, child labour, child soldiers and homelessness, hunger and poverty that negatively affect millions of children throughout the world. Standing for one minute once a day or excusing themselves while the Lord’s Prayer is being recited pales into insignificance in comparison to these more alarming and grievous abuses of children throughout the world.

RAY SHEEN

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