Saskatchewan told to pull prayer from schools

A human rights ruling in Saskatchewan could bring an end to prayer in Saskatoon public schools.

Several parents have been fighting for most of this decade to remove prayer from the classroom.

The parents are upset about a Public School Board policy that allows recitings of the Lord's Prayer.

Now, a provincial human rights inquiry has struck down the policy as discriminatory, and school trustees are trying to figure out what to do next.

Both the board and those who made complaints agree the dispute could be headed to the courts, perhaps as far as the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission says having the prayer said in class violates children's freedom of religion.

Retired Judge Ken Halvorson headed the commission's board of inquiry. He ordered public schools to immediately end the reading of the prayer in classrooms and assemblies.

He also asked the school board come up with a more inclusive, multi-cultural religious policy that doesn't include any prayer from the Bible.

Halvorson also ruled that he had jurisdiction to hear the case, which had been bounced between the courts and the rights commission for six years.

The judge noted that he cannot force the school board to change its policy because the right to say the Lord's Prayer in schools is currently protected under Saskatchewan's Education Act.

Halvorson therefore recommended the legislature repeal that part of the act. But the province does not need to comply because the ruling comes from a commission, not the courts.