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Swedish school criticised for prayer service
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Swedish school criticised for prayer service

Published: 25 Nov 2010 14:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Nov 2010 14:30 GMT+01:00

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) has criticised Borås municipality in western Sweden for breaching regulations banning religious services at end of term celebrations.

Pupils at Gånghester school in the municipality attended an end-of-term service in June at the local church in a service conducted by a pastor. One of those in attendance filed a complaint with the inspectorate after pupils were encouraged to join in prayer.

"It is important that schools shape the end of term so that all can take part in such a happy occasion - pupils, parents and staff," inspectorate lawyer Anna-Lena Olsson told The Local on Thursday.

"Parents should be able to trust that when they send their children to school, they are assured that children are not affected in one or other [religious] way of thinking."

The inspectorate has established in several rulings that holding end-of-term celebrations on church premises is not itself in breach of the curriculum or the constitution, nor is the presence of a religious leader, but it has stipulated that the occasion should not be an expression of a particular religious faith.

"The line for when end of term celebrations are to be considered an expression of religious faith has to be drawn on a case by case basis, and here we decided that prayer has to be considered to be a confessional element," Olsson said.

In its defence, Borås told the inspectorate that the programme for the end-of-term celebrations had been discussed and decided upon within the school council, on which parents from each class are represented.

Meanwhile, the school confirmed that all religions are taught during the school year and argued that this negated the possibility that pupils could be influenced in any particular religious direction.

"The main ingredient of the end-of-term celebrations was that pupils in every class are given the possibility to express their joy and create a pleasant atmosphere by singing summer songs," the municipality wrote in a submission to the inspectorate, arguing that the prayer element of the proceedings was "short and well adapted."

The inspectorate bases its decisions on a series of legal documents, including the schools law, as well as the national curriculum.

The Swedish constitution stipulates that public services should work against discrimination on the grounds of, among others, religious faith. The constitution protects individuals from being obliged to reveal their position in political, religious or cultural matters.

The right to freedom of religion, as is the right not to follow any religion, is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (1994), to which Sweden is subject.

The schools law stipulates that all children of school age must participate in organised activities and according to the school curriculum end of term celebrations are to be considered part of regular teaching. The curriculum requires that compulsory schooling should be "non-confessional...objective and comprehensive."

The inspectorate has thus criticised Borås, calling for the municipality to submit a report by February 2011 detailing measures taken to address the issue as a result of the decision.

According to the local Borås Tidning, Lena Sundbaum, the recently appointed principal of Gånghester school, confirmed that the celebration at the end of the autumn term will be held in the school's sports hall.

Independent faith schools are permitted in Sweden and while they are able to adopt a more distinct religious character, teaching is subject to the same requirements and the schools are subject to the oversight of the inspectorate.

"Schools can have religious elements and profiles - there are a number of schools in Sweden with Christian and Muslim profiles - but teaching has to be non-confessional and objective," Olsson told The Local.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:47 November 25, 2010 by Georguis
I bet that the one who submitted this complaint is muslim as they think of christians as infidels and their prayers are attended by devils. If muslims think they are forced to convert to christianity just because they followed a tradition and attended an end of term celebration in a church, what would they said about christians being KILLED every day in Egypt and Iraq by muslims just because they are christians?? Muslims in Europe and US are much more fairly treated than they treat christians in the muslim countries.

My word to leaders of schools: turning your back to our jew-christian traditions and culture and admitting the intolerant and terrorist islamic culture in schools curriculums will result in loosing everything and destruction of our country.
19:36 November 25, 2010 by reason
Don't bet too much on it Georgie. Much more likely that the complaint comes from a parent who would like to see a school system that encourages reason and resourcefulness and doesn't encourage thinking that invisible spirits and wishful thinking are in any way helpful. Regardless of the particular form the superstition may take.
20:39 November 25, 2010 by StockholmSam
Could not have said it better myself, reason.

Georguis, take your fear-mongering and stick where the sun don't shine. Your prejudices are not welcome here. And neither is your religious indoctrination (aka brainwashing).
21:09 November 25, 2010 by Georguis
@ stockholm sam

I guess you are out of history same like some ignorant swedes who have no idea about what is going on in the world. You and your coward party (the appeasers of terrorists and quran lovers) have no identity and consequently you do not have a case to defend in life.
22:14 November 25, 2010 by Da Goat
This is a good start now we just need some students to complain about having the fraudulent religion of evolution shoved down their throats in the name of Pseudo-science .

the religion of scientism is based on lies and assumptions and is very resourceful but not very logical or reasonable.

everyone says teach what is based on reason when they actually mean bias and lies!

the Dogma of this religion is ruining and fettering real science! and our futures.
23:35 November 25, 2010 by locaxy
@Georguis

C'mon now! Islam is a silly cult, but you're bordering on a conspiracy theory whereby the almighty Muslims shape the political scene, control global finance and drink baby blood.

The secularist/humanist/naturalist/atheist lobby is very strong in Sweden and I expect it to speak up against prayer services and other superstitions when conducted in public schools. School is about reason and science, not myths and imaginary friends.

Now...if we could stop funding mosques and churches with taxpayer money, I'd be very happy.

Happy season of reason everyone!
23:54 November 25, 2010 by Uggla
I am a pretty normal parent, coming from a good home. My parents were well educated articulate folk. We are not Muslims nor are we racist like others here (ahem..). We do not follow the christian faith and I as a mother am keeping m child home from school tomorrow because the community I live in here in Sweden forces all the school children to go to a church and sing songs of Christ. They force your children to learn of a religion not everyone follows. It is a violation of a persons personal choice and my child's free will to chose her own belief hen the time comes for that understanding. Why are the Christians still forcing their beliefs on others after all this time? I am tired of the judging and the intrusion. My child has to stay home or go to something that is totally against our beliefs. That is very unfair! She should not have to feel different that the rest of her school mates because we do not follow the christian faith. She should not have to deal with the religion issue in the place where she is to get a good education. The only religion that should be thought in school is the basic fundamentals of world religion. Not forced christian events.

This is a very important issue.
00:14 November 26, 2010 by Kaethar
@Uggla: So forcing your kid to stay home = free personal choice? Welcome to the realities of peer pressure. You should let your children make their own choices (and mistakes) though. Luckily singing 'Den blomstertid nu kommer' isn't as bad as smoking or drinking. Using your kids to further your own agenda is probably more damaging to them in the end as well. :/
00:20 November 26, 2010 by Uggla
A typical christian reply. No her staying home is not a violation of her rights or choice. When she is old enough to choose a religion vs being brainwashed at the young age of 7 she can then choose what ever religion she likes. I have no "agenda" other than being utterly disgusted with the fact that my children are being spoon feed a religion at a young age. It's unacceptable!
00:48 November 26, 2010 by locaxy
@Kaethar: "Welcome to the realities of peer pressure. "

Euh...at this point, it's more like government-sponsored pressure. It's a public school. And to reiterate, churches and mosques are heavily financed by taxes, while clear-thinking rational organizations that promote science and critical thinking are discriminated against by the government.

Uggla is right in demanding religion be pushed through government onto his/her kids.

Humanisterna are doing an awesome job at raising awareness against cults, superstitions and the like.
02:06 November 26, 2010 by nlidukdese
Religion is like a penis

It's fine to have one.

It's fine to be proud of it.

But don't whip it out in public and start waving it around.

And please don't try to shove it down my children's throats.
02:15 November 26, 2010 by flobalob
That rules out Catholicism then.
02:19 November 26, 2010 by Uggla
"Uggla is right in demanding religion be pushed through government onto his/her kids."

That comment makes no sense. I am not demanding that religion is to be pushed onto my kids.

It's just the opposite.

I should have a right as a parent to expose (or to not) my children to religion. And to not have strangers do it for me.
03:49 November 26, 2010 by ericrufinosiah
The valuable thousand years old of Swedish Vikings' traditions are slowly ,slowly

being swapped aside and I am wondering what other Swedish customs and

cultures would be swapped aside in time to come.Sweden is a Christian country

since early time and of course there are bound to have cultures and customs

with religious theme and etc incorporated since.Now,please dont be overzealous

in swipping away valuable Swedish vikings heritage and etc.and who are to be blamed.?
04:14 November 26, 2010 by HowSwedeitis
An Agnostic Government is the best Government.

-HSII
10:42 November 26, 2010 by locaxy
@Uggla "Uggla is right in demanding religion be pushed through government onto his/her kids."

Read: Uggla is right in demanding religion NOT be pushed through government onto his/her kids

Sorry about that.
11:56 November 26, 2010 by prince T
It is a pity that Sweden is moving away from it's original root. Like someone said, religion is like a pe----. No law in the world can stamp out religion, it actulally makes it stronger.

Nobody should complain about the spread of Islam becuase when a void is left, ti has to be filled with something. Sweden can abandon chritianity but cannot stop islam from spreading.
12:50 November 26, 2010 by Alf Garnett
Time to ban the building of new religious centres, any religious building in Sweden erected after 1899 should be demolished.
06:51 November 27, 2010 by JoeSwede
a good compromise between church and state is to allow public education with some Christian teaching and some end of year celebration which might include a prayer. This represented older Swedish culture.

If you have to draw a strict line then maybe the year end celebration should have not included the prayer... but then maybe public funding for schools should be limited and funding for Christian schools should be initiated again. Being strict kills Swedish Christian culture and favors a few moraly strict athests and muslims. But in the end it kills the Swedish culture. Some would argue that that is ok, the multicultural way is better and it should win out. I say no.
22:53 November 27, 2010 by asian123
this is the future sweden.

http://politisktinkorrekt.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/fo

rstamaj.borlange.jpg
11:37 November 28, 2010 by Uggla
@JoeSwede

You really think Christianity is "Swedish Culture?" That is extremely laughable. Granted Christianity has been in Sweden for some time but it is NOT a Swedish religion from the beginning. If you want to get down to Swedish Culture why don't you take a look at what Christianity did to the old Norse religion?

Why should everyone be forced to allow Christianity in schools and upon their children. Do they teach our little children the traditions of Buddhism or Judaism in school? How about having teachings of ALL world religions from a young age? Why is it that Christians are so special that they get to rule over all other religions.

I am very tired of hearing the excuses that Sweden is a christian country. It's hogwash, and not a limited reason people have to force their religion upon my child/children. I know for a fact that These Christians doing this would be outraged if their children were being forces to learn about and partake in Wicca, Pagan, traditions or Åsatru for that matter. They would be outraged! They would not stand their children learning about these what they would call "evil" traditions. But it's quite okay for them to force it upon others children stating that its not fair the Muslims and atheists get to run the show. I call bull crap! Unless The schools are teaching world religions as a whole to children in a old enough age to conceive the teachings it is utterly unacceptable!

There should be no room for this acceptance just because it's what Sweden does. Should we still bun witches because it is Swedish Culture? How about some Human sacrifice?

Get real!
23:15 November 28, 2010 by Nora
Thumbs up for "Reason"! well said.
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