Published 17th March 2014
Dear Letters Editor,
Religion in schools is a public debate that’s long overdue, and one that might hopefully be sparked by Susie O’Brien’s column (Don’t ram religion down throats of all schoolkids, The Advertiser yesterday).
The Australian Christian Lobby, and others, have been campaigning aggressively for their supporters to flood the National Curriculum Review panel with submissions to extend religious instruction throughout the public school system.
Included in this push is a demand to have creationism taught alongside the proven science of human evolution. The incredible situation already occurs where the literal truth of Genesis is taught in many private schools.
Dr David Zyngier from the Faculty of Education at Monash University is just one among scores of education professionals who oppose Special Religious Instruction. He says, “SRI is an outdated and flawed model of segregated, unaccountable and unprofessional religious instruction, which caters to the interests of religious organisations and not the needs of students, educators or families.”
In 1870, Australia introduced uniform secular education but it was overturned in 1963 by prime minister Menzies. The 1870 debates by church and state remain in parliamentary libraries, and which explain in detail their sweeping decision to make education “free, compulsory and secular”.
The prevailing view was that segregated religious schools were “damaging” to social cohesion by “dividing children on religious lines, and limiting access to good education to only those who could afford to pay.”
That bold statement is no less true today!
Prof of Politics at Macquarie University, Dr Marion Maddox, opens a Pandora’s box with her new book “Taking God to School”, which lifts the lid on the whole escalation of religion in schools and the danger and divisiveness it causes.
As Susie O’Brien rightly states, Sunday school is the place for religious instruction. One can only trust the National Curriculum Review will deal with genuine educational matters and resist the push by fundamentalist Christians — as they’ve said in their literature — to “make disciples” of Australian school children.
Director, Plain Reason