A public primary school in Queensland asks its pupils to observe a prayer ritual each week at a whole-school assembly.
A prospectus document found online details the ‘morning prayer’ ritual as part of the weekly ‘Parade’ at Rochedale State School in Brisbane, with children required to recite that, “Into your hands O God, we commend ourselves this day”.
The prayer continues:
Let your presence be with us until its close.
Help us to see, that, in doing our work, we are
doing Your will,
And that, in serving others, we are serving you.
At the weekly assembly in the school’s gymnasium, children recite the “Verse of Loyalty” to King Charles.
Rochedale State School is an independent state school. While remaining part of the government system, independent state schools are, according to the Queensland Department of Education’s website, afforded “greater autonomy to make local decisions about how best to meet the needs of their students”.
On its website, the Rochedale State School says its mission involves developing “caring young citizens who respect their own and other cultures”.
A professionally made video by the Department of Education showcases the cultural diversity of the school.
Secular advocacy group Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools (QPSSS) revealed the prayer practice on its Facebook page earlier last week.
The group’s spokesperson, Alison Courtice, told the Rationalist Society of Australia that it was bewildering that the school’s practices at weekly assembly appeared to be at odds with its inclusive rhetoric.
“Equally disappointing is that the education department continues to fail to set and enforce a meaningful policy on such matters. Simply saying parents can have children excused from participating in a whole-school activity on the basis of religion screams ignorance of the principle of inclusiveness, and shows a worrying indifference to the effect on children of being separated due to religious differences and the message that sends,” she said.
“While public schools should be a role model for inclusiveness on all occasions, the education department is disinterested and unambitious about issues such as prayers at assembly or other special occasions.”