Human Rights Tribunal Fines Alberta Private School for Preventing Students from Praying

I don’t know how I missed the April story about a private school in Alberta, Webber Academy, ordered to pay $26,000 in damages to two students who they prevented from praying in their school.

According to the parents of the two students, upon enrollment, they explicitly asked if it would be okay for their children to pray for five minutes and were told that this was acceptable. However, the school reversed the decision two weeks later, citing that the praying was obvious to others and it made them uncomfortable. The parents state that going to the Human Rights Tribunal was a last resort.

Neil Webber, the school’s president and founder, disagrees with the ruling and justifies Webber Academy’s decision because the school is non-denominational and free of religious influences.

Although I am both a secularist and an atheist who finds prayer tiresome when observed and oppressive when forced on me, I agree with the Human Rights Tribunal’s decision and the reason I agree with it is simple: the students were not forcing their religion on anyone else. Sure, it may have been disruptive but perhaps something could have been worked out to remedy that. The point is that this is not the same as saying the Lord’s Prayer, a religious activity academic institutions once inflicted on students en masse, giving them no choice but to comply. Instead, this is the private practice of students who have a right to their beliefs and a right to freedom of religion.

You can read more about the case and the ruling here.

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