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Can God be ousted from the singalong circle?

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Today was meant to be the day that God was shown the door at 1,400 public daycares across Quebec. But a group of angry parents are fighting the province's move to temper the role of religion from daycare. The Globe's Ingrid Peritz explains the new rules in a piece today:

"The government's directives lay out a complex set of dos-and-don'ts: It's okay if a three-year-old initiates a religious act individually, but an educator can't do the same if it's aimed at children. A priest or imam can visit a daycare but not offer religious instruction."

While this fight reflects serious questions about the role of religion in public institutions and how much religious parents can influence public care, it also creates some very awkward cultural moments in the singalong circle or during story time.

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The rules seem murky. It appears you can play Noah's Ark, but teachers have to leave out the part about God speaking to Noah. Christmas trees are okay, but angels and religious ornaments are a no-go.

A coalition of mostly Jewish and Catholic parents has requested a court injunction based on Charter rights, Ms. Peritz writes.

"The group, Quebeckers for Equal Rights to Subsidized Day Cares, argues the government directives are vague, a bureaucratic headache to apply, and discriminate against parents who believe daycares should be an extension of the family home," Ms. Peritz writes.

Songs are being scrubbed of God references: Au Clair de la lune, for instance, will need its last line, "Pour L'amour de Dieu" dropped in order to be sung.

Many parents may be checking their mental files: How many other songs that we routinely sing have religious overtones that we barely notice?

Then there are lullabies that include lines like, "May your slumber be blessed," or other oblique references to God that we sing without considering them much at all.

Quebec parents, will new secular daycare rules affect you? And for all parents, how many rewrites would your go-to song list or story roster require under the new Quebec rules? Would it matter to you?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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