Brazilian public school accused of forcing Jewish student to say Christian prayer


(JTA) — A Brazilian father accused a public school teacher of forcing his Jewish son to recite a Christian prayer.

The incident is said to have happened last month at the Ciep Cecilio Barbosa da Paixao school in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian daily O Globo reported earlier this week.

According to the father, a teacher instructed his ninth-grade son to say the Lord’s Prayer during a group prayer on June 5 at the school in the city of Engenheiro Paulo de Frontin, north of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

“He left the group and the other students looked at him critically,” the father was quoted as saying. “The inspector called him to return and told him that the Lord’s Prayer is a universal prayer even though he told her it was a Christian prayer which does not correspond to his faith.”

The boy told his father of the incident last month and vowed not to return to school, said the father, who added that he had filed a police complaint against the school administration based on the Brazilian constitution, which grants freedom of worship to all.

A school spokesman denied that the boy had been forced to pray, saying the prayer was “a voluntary action by a group of students and faculty.”

Jayme Salim Salomao, the president of the Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro, has demanded an explanation from the school and the state’s secretary of education.

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