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Prayer in Schools Across the Globe: Where Key Nations Stand on Issue

Image: Prayer in Schools Across the Globe: Where Key Nations Stand on Issue
State flags (L-R) Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, top and Italy, France, bottom row. (wikepedia/commons)

By    |   Sunday, 30 Nov 2014 07:43 PM

The topic of prayer in public schools has been a pervasive issue not just in the United States, but throughout much of the world.

Here is how the debate about religion in schools is playing out in some key nations of the world.

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Germany

In 2011, German courts ruled that students may be banned from praying if it causes a conflict. The case stemmed from a Muslim student in Berlin who demanded a separate prayer room.

German law protects freedom of religion, so students are allowed to pray outside of lesson times on a case-by-case basis as long as it doesn’t cause a conflict.

Canada

Reciting the Lord’s Prayer was once common in Canada, but the practice has come under increased scrutiny, leading more and more school districts to abandon the practice.

Compulsory prayer in public schools ended except in Alberta and Saskatchewan with a 1988 Ontario court ruling

Public schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan are allowed to recite the Lord’s Prayer because of an exemption to the Constitution made in 1905. The issue remains a topic of debate in those provinces.

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United Kingdom

Under the 1944 Education Act, schools in England and Wales must provide collective worship each day. The law has drawn increasing scrutiny in recent years, with many schools failing to comply and the National Governors’ Association, which represents more than 300,000 school governors across England, recommending the law be abolished in non-religious schools.

Italy

The European Court of Human Rights banned crucifixes in public classrooms in Italy in 2009, finding that the symbols violate students' right to freedom of religion. The government had argued that the crucifix is a national symbol of culture, history, and identity, tolerance and secularism, but the court rejected that claim, saying that the crucifixes in classrooms were a “violation of the right to parents to educate children as to their own wishes and a violation of liberty of religion of pupils.”

France

Since 1905, France has enforced a strict separation of church and state. In 2013, the country’s education minister, Vincent Peillon, introduced a “Charter for Secularity in School” to be displayed in schools. The document outlines 15 secular principles, including a 2004 law banning pupils in state schools from wearing any "ostentatious religious symbols." The move was controversial among Muslims who say it is directed against Islam.

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The topic of prayer in public schools has been a pervasive issue not just in the United States, but throughout much of the world.
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2014-43-30
Sunday, 30 Nov 2014 07:43 PM
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