Published: 13:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 29 September 2011
Australia: School bans Lord’s Prayer after parents’ complaints
A government school in Western Australia (WA) has banned students from reciting the Lord's Prayer before assembly in response to complaints from parents.
Students at Edgewater Primary School, Perth, will stop saying the Lord’s Prayer, despite its having been said there for 25 years, after some parents said it contravened the WA Education Act, which stipulates that schools cannot favour one religion over another.
Edgewater principal Julie Tombs said that although most students' parents favoured the tradition, only 36 per cent had responded to a survey asking for their views.
"We acknowledge that of the parents who did respond to the survey, many wanted to retain the Lord's Prayer and it is right that we continue to recite it at culturally appropriate times such as Christmas and Easter, as part of our educational program," Ms Tombs said.
"However, at this school we have students from a range of backgrounds and it is important to consider all views and not promote one set of religious beliefs and practices over another."
Parents have received a letter saying the prayer would no longer be recited before each fortnightly assembly; they will, however, continue to recite the school creed, which includes a reference to God.
WA Premier Colin Barnett said that although it was "desirable" for students to recite the prayer at assembly, it was ultimately the school's decision. He said:
My own view is that WA is basically a Christian-based community and I think it’s desirable to have the Lord's Prayer said.
[But] that decision rests at the school level. Certainly schools can, and I would encourage them to, have the Lord's Prayer.
I don't think it offends anyone; it just simply reflects the values and backbone of our society.
Mr Barnett said it was part of Australia's "culture, our history and it's reflected in our institutions and laws".
The Anglican Dean of Perth, John Shepherd, said that although religious demographics had changed in recent years, there was still a place for the Lord's Prayer to be recited at government schools.
I think there is a place, just as there is a place for exposing children to the full knowledge of other faiths. I do acknowledge that it's not simple, [but] it does embody values to which we all ascribe. I think it is a valuable addition to the educative process.
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Read The Sydney Morning Herald article Primary school bans Lord's Prayer
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