A St. Albert school, north of Edmonton, is struggling to find middle ground between parents who want the Lord's Prayer recited each morning and those who say it has no place in public classrooms.
"We're a public school...no official affiliation to any religion, but you taught my children that there is a god," said Luke Fevin, one of more than a dozen Sturgeon Heights School parents to attend a school board meeting Wednesday night.
"And you taught my children that that god is Christian. And you taught my children that that god listens to prayers. And you taught my children that god answers them.
"My five and seven year old believe that because your school taught it to them," said Fevin.
"You have no right to teach my children that."
The prayer has been a mainstay at the school for 40 years, until principal Garnet Goertzen suspended the practice this fall following parents' objections.
School looking for guidance
The school of 380 students is now hoping for some guidance from the Sturgeon School Board.
"It's our desire to be an inclusive school and respect the rights of every one," said Goertzen.
The board expects the school to solve the issue on its own.
"I haven't got any problem with it either way," said chairman Terry Jewell. "If the community wants it that's fine by me. If they don't want it's also fine."
Under provisions in the British North America Act, now part of the Canadian constitution, public schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan can offer religious education if parents so desire, said Jewell.
But dissenting parents said it's time the Sturgeon School Division catch up with the rest of the world.
"Just because you've always done something is not an argument for continuing to do something," said Fevin.
"The fact that we're having this argument is a little embarrassing."
Prayer could be held in gym
One parent at the board meeting suggested children who want to pray could go to the gym, while others remain in their classroom.
"It would be no different than moving my children to language arts room," she said.
While other parents pleaded with the board to remove the right of schools to recite the prayer, it's unlikey to happen.
The board said schools that want to continue reciting the Lord's Prayer must show it has community support, possibly through a survey.
The school would then be asked to propose how it would accomodate those students who don't want to take part.
The issue comes again before the board Oct. 26.