TABER, Alberta, November 14, 2013 ( – A single parental complaint has resulted in Christian prayer being removed from a school that has a long history of saying the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of classes each day.


Students and staff at Dr. Hamman Elementary School in the tiny southern Alberta town of Taber (population approximately 8,000) no longer pray because Melanie Bell, mother of two children in the school, voiced her concerns in a letter to principal Darlene Peckford.

“It is the only public school in Taber that still recites the Lord's Prayer,” said Bell in an interview with the Lethbridge Herald the day after the decision banning prayer in the school.

Bell, who describes herself as an agnostic, claims that prayer in the school causes her children anxiety, and they have come home crying because of it.


“I feel religion has no need in the public school system,” said Bell, adding that hearing the Lord's Prayer over the school's P.A. system is a violation of her children's human rights of freedom of religion.

While the school tried to accommodate Bell's children by allowing them to leave the classroom during morning exercises or to simply not say the prayer along with the other children, Bell responded that “my kids would be likely picked on or bullied because we do not participate in the Christian faith.”

“As a society and a school community we strive to teach acceptance of others and the importance of diversity, but where is the acceptance of others who do not practice the Christian religion,” wrote Bell in her letter to Principal Peckford. “Everyone has the right to practice their religion. But not in a public school.”

In the end the school capitulated to Bell's request.

Other parents, however, are determined to have the prayer reinstated at Dr. Hamman Elementary School.

They are upset that the decision was made unilaterally.

“We want to get at least an opportunity to vote, because it was just one person who made the request and there was no warning for the rest of us,” said Tonya Torrie, a concerned parent of three children who attend Dr. Hamman.

“We aren't mad, but we want to have the right to say what we want to say. I just don't think it's right for one person to make a decision that affects everyone else,” Torrie told the Lethbridge Herald.

Torrie said that the school board, Horizon School Division No. 67, has always been supportive of parents' input into the education of their children and believes the board will continue to act appropriately.

She suggested the school may be able to “find some middle ground,” such as saying “the Lord’s Prayer once a week, or the Lord’s Prayer before school.”

But, she said, 96 people as of Thursday afternoon supported her position – as opposed to one complaint.

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So far, 75 percent of respondents to an unscientific poll being conducted by the Lethbridge Herald asking “Do you agree with the decision to quit reciting the Lord’s Prayer at a Taber school after a parent’s complaint?” have voted no.

The newspaper has pointed out that Alberta and Saskatchewan were granted a Constitutional exemption when they joined Confederation in 1905 that protected the right to prayer in school.


Dr. Hamman Elementary School
Darlene Peckford, Principal
6302 56 Street, Taber AB T1G 1Z9
Phone: 403-223-2988
Fax: 403-223-2999br> E-mail: via website:

Horizon School Division No. 67
Wilco Tymensen, Superintendant
Phone: 403-223-3547
E-mail: via website:

Town of Taber, Alberta
Henk De Vlieger, Mayor
Phone: 403-223-5500 ext. 5519
E-mail: [email protected]


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