Expelled for refusing to sing the National Anthem, eleven Hutterite children returned to school in North Dumfries Township, Waterloo County, yesterday morning under a compromise arrangement which satisfied both their religious leaders and the school authorities.
Each of the eleven affirmed his or her loyalty by standing in the classroom and saying: “I hereby solemnly declare my loyalty to His Majesty King George VI.”
The Hutterite children will not be required to sing the National Anthem, but they must stand at respectful attention while the other pupils are singing it. The children belong to the Hutterite colony near Glen Morris.
The Hutterite pupils, the girls with black kerchiefs over their heads and the boys in plain, dark clothing, prayed in unison before being admitted to class. The prayer was prepared by their leader, Julius Kubassek, and most of it was taken from the New Testament. The arrangement which permitted the return of the children was made by Kubassek and School Inspector Charles Howitt.
“In a democratic country it is not the desire of any board of trustees to offend the religious beliefs and feelings of any person or group of persons,” School Inspector Howitt said, in an address to the class. “Religious tolerance is one of the glories of a democratic country.”
“Certain children were expelled from this school because they refused to sing the National Anthem. It now appears this refusal was purely on religious grounds and not through any lack of patriotism or love and respect for our King.”
The Hutterite children were lined up at one side of the classroom as the inspector spoke. The rest of the pupils were sitting.
“The parents of these pupils have agreed to have them solemnly testify their loyalty,” the school inspector said.
When he was through he handed to each Hutterite child a slip on which was written the pledge they uttered. They repeated it in firm voice.
As they offered the prayer Kubassek prepared they started in low voice.
“Louder children,” said the bearded, bespectacled and black-clothed Kubassek.
The children’s voices rose.
It was an unusual scene as school trustees, the school inspector and the bearded leader stood as the prayer was repeated.
The national anthem, Kubassek said, was based on the teachings of the Old Testament.
“Our faith, our way of living, our prayers, are all based exclusively on the New Testament,” he stated.
—The Sun Times (Owen Sound, Ontario), May 6, 1941, p. 9.