Bible Society protests Lord’s Prayer decision in Saskatchewan

Published September 1, 1999

The Anglican Church won’t be joining a Canadian Bible Society protest against a human rights ruling that declared reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Saskatoon classrooms discriminatory.

Bible Society national director Rev. Greg Bailey wrote to leaders of Christian denominations across Canada asking them to join his protest of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal decision handed down at the end of July. Retired judge Ken Halvorson ruled that students’ freedom of religion was violated by being asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer and study the Bible in some Saskatoon public schools.

Nine parents had challenged the practice.

In his letter to church leaders, Mr. Bailey urged them “to do everything within your means and conscience to encourage the elected governments of Canada to restore God’s written Word, the Holy Bible, to its rightful public exposure.”

He said banning the reading of the Bible in the public forum further reduces the possibility of exposure to higher ideals, such as the quality of love, mercy, the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.

The Bishop of Saskatoon, Tom Morgan, has no plans to join the Bible Society’s crusade. Nor does he align himself with those who worked to remove the Lord’s Prayer from classrooms. He said while he understands the objections of atheists, he can’t fathom other religious groups’ problems with the Lord’s Prayer.

“I’m unaware of anything offensive to Jews, to Islam,” he said. “The things prayed for in the Lord’s Prayer are bigger than the Christian church: the need to be forgiven, the need to be sustained by daily bread; these are all universals. People say it’s imposing Christianity. But some things belong to humanity. The roots of the Lord’s Prayer are in the Christian tradition. But it is bigger than the Christian tradition.”

That being said, the issue “doesn’t get my blood pumping too much,” Bishop Morgan added. “I personally don’t know how helpful it is to rattle off the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of the school day. But I won’t say it should be banned because of its Christian tradition.”

The national church generally does not comment on local issues unless asked to do so by the local church, said a spokesman for the Primate, Rev. Gordon Light. If national church leaders feel a need to make a statement on a particular issue, they tend to do so through bodies such as the Canadian Council of Churches, where statements are drafted and agreed upon, Canon Light said.


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