‘Oust evangelism from our schools’
Schools are not places of worship. If parents want their kids to be religiously indoctrinatated, then they should take them to a church, synagogue or mosque.
That’s the view of Australian Lara Wood, Chief Executive of a parent-run lobby group, Fairness in Religions in Schools, which, according to this report, has paid for a billboard attacking Special Religious Eduction (SRE) classes in public schools.
It is part of a FIRIS campaign urging families concerned about religious evangelism in public schools to opt out of scripture classes.
Wood said the billboard was in response to what the group sees as evangelism in public schools which it claims is poorly regulated by the NSW government.
Scripture classes push messages about sin, death, suicide, sexuality and female submission onto children without the knowledge of their parents.
The Department of Education has no control over the program and it is time these classes were removed or at least regulated by the government.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said it works with scripture class providers to ensure the material is:
Sensitive, age appropriate and of a high standard.
Green Party education spokesman John Kaye said parents were becoming increasingly concerned about religious groups pushing “dangerous ideas” into public schools.
This is the beginning of the backlash to an enrolment form that obscures the existence of the ethics alternative.
It is not surprising that community groups react by trying to warn parents about the messages their children might be exposed to in scripture classes.
The billboard quotes from an Anglican SRE text stating:
God says you are stuck in your sin and need to be rescued from his judgment.
Fairness in Religions in Schools appears to have the support of the Anglican Archdeacon of the Central Coast, Rod Bower, who said SRE classes should be replaced by “a quality general religious education program” in public schools to reflect “this multicultural, multi-faith society”. He agrees that:
If parents want their children formed in a particular tradition they should take them to a place of worship.
But the Anglican Bishop of South Sydney and chairman of the Sydney diocese’s SRE taskforce, Rob Forsyth, said scripture classes did not proselytise but provided education in Christian faith.
If someone signs their kid up for education in the Christian faith, that’s exactly what that kid should be taught.
If these parents don’t like it, no one is forcing their child to attend SRE classes. They don’t have to go. It’s as simple as that. But they should not be trying to stop other people from sending their kids to SRE if that’s their choice.
FIRIS says on it website:
The groups seeking to use our schools to do “Special Religious Instruction” simply don’t trust that parents know how to raise their kids.
They don’t want to have to accept that in a free society, where religious diversity is held as a virtue, that they are free to invite anyone they want to worship and learn about their religion.
Instead they want to use the power we vest in our schools (ie it is a law that you must send your children to school) to conduct their programs in such a way that parents must take action to remove their children.
Parents have their reasons for wanting or not wanting ‘religious instruction’ – but no one in Australia lacks for access to a Church, Mosque, Synagogue, Temple, Gurdwara, etc … these institutions proliferate in a free society and one of the great qualities of life in Australia is that these institutions exist side by side.
This happens because none of them make the rules. They are all free to assemble and pursue their obligations as congregates and followers, but the price for this freedom is the acceptance that others choose not to.