Well the battle continues.
You may recall an earlier piece or two on the teaching of religion in schools. It seems that as well as some pending high court action against this practice, there has also been a complaint lodged at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, that religious education in state primary schools discriminates against children whose parents opt out. Apparently, there are still many examples where the education department segregates children on religious grounds and forces them (or rather their parents) to opt out rather than specifically opt in if they want religious education.
Legal action against the department was also reported here. Interestingly, it revolves around the use of the word ‘may’ in relation to the teaching of religion. See this pronouncement by the department, and see if you agree with their interpretation of this word…
And what about that second paragraph! ‘Secular instruction may not be timetabled while students from the class are attending SRI’!!!! That’s just ridiculous – institutionalising the practice of leaving non-SRI students in the cold, as it were.
Not surprisingly, this interpretation is now being challenged.
One thing I didn’t know was that a mob called Access Ministries has volunteers in two thirds of Victoria primary schools, teaching religion of all flavours. Not surprisingly, its head, Stephen Hales was quoted as saying:
“when religious instruction was last reviewed in 2006, the community had overwhelmingly supported it.”
He would say that wouldn’t he. He also went on to say:
Christian education is like environment lessons – it was ”not just about teaching things in a neutral way,” but encouraging children to have an opinion and ”be committed to doing something”
To me, that sounds like utter nonsense. No matter how many times I read it, I can’t fathom what it has to do with religious instruction.
In fact, if you look at the About page of Access Ministries, it conveys just the opposite impression:
Victoria’s children and young people need to know God cares for them. They need positive role models and strong values. They need to develop skills and strategies to break the negative cycles in their lives. Young Victorians need CRE teachers and school chaplains, from ACCESS ministries.
Every day of the school year, ACCESS ministries CRE teachers and chaplains are sharing God’s love with over 200,000 young Victorians. They are helping students explore their lives with meaning and purpose. Well-trained, culturally sensitive and with great respect for students and their schooling, CRE teachers and chaplains are introducing young Victorians to the spiritual dimensions of life.
ACCESS ministries, formerly CCES, is an inter-denominational body which provides Christian Education and Chaplaincy in State Schools in Victoria, under the provision of the Education Act 1958 (revised 1999, 2006). It provides this service in partnership with Christian churches.
Our vision is to reach every student in Victoria with the Gospel. Join the vision and help us transform this nation for God.
How is this in any way teaching in a ‘neutral way’? Please don’t insult us with your lame nonsense. You simply want to spread the gospel, right? Just say so. Don’t give us those weasel words about opinions and commitment and so on, as if you’re encouraging free thinking or rational thought.
In any case, enjoy it while you can, your prime-time gig in primary schools will be finished shortly as the courts sort out your mumbo-jumbo for us, and get those ‘heathens’ out of the corridor and back into the classroom where they belong.