Zealotry in schools:

Henrie Ellis writes: Re. “Zealots in school … Jesus loves me, this I know, cos he gave me a Freddo” (yesterday, item 3). Chris Fotinopoulos’ angst about evangelical zealotry in government schools is nothing to be surprised about — it has been going on in one shape or form for the past 50 years.

In the late 1960s the fundamentalists-cum-evangelicals realised they could get a foothold in government schools and sadly in some instances they were assisted by staff members who had “found God”. Some older students in secondary schools exerted influence on the susceptible by targeting lonely or isolated younger pupils inviting them to meetings of the Inter-School Christian Fellowship during the lunch hour. The transformation of what were cosy congregations of mainstream protestant students supervised by a well-meaning lay preacher into seething cauldrons of hot gospelling dominated by fundamentalists impacted on the lives of many impressionable students.

The Pentecostal churches aka Assemblies of God aka Revival Centres aka Community Churches in many rural areas led the charge to capture the hearts and minds of young people. Students were invited to camps, joined prayer groups or church-based youth groups, made new friends and, in some instances, these activities filled a void in their hearts — for a time.  Other fundamentalist religious groups or evangelical arms of mainstream churches likewise saw government schools as fertile ground.

When of their own volition students chose to leave the fold, some were ostracised, sent to Coventry, or vilified.

Increasingly many teachers and principals in government schools stood up to these antics, which led in part to the rise of the so-called Christian schools in the 1980s and ’90s.

So dear Chris, nothing has changed just the tactics — a Mars Bar today, tomorrow the loaves and fish.

Asylum seekers and the Houston report:

Alan Kennedy writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. No one has explained how you qualify for Australia’s hospitality in someone else’s country, in this case Nauru and Papua New Guinea without first getting on a boat. Or is it suggested we pop over to southern India and Indonesia and issue invitations? It would seem the only answer is to lift our refugee intake and then fund processing centres in the region that are run humanely by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and us .

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Manus Island and Nauru solutions are really acts of bastardry by this smug self-entitled bogan nation. We want to make these places such hell holes of anguish despair and ultimately mental breakdown that no one will want to come here. It is a despicable  policy. Nauru was a disgusting place and will be again.

Put simply, a policy of persecuting innocent people to discourage the others is a criminal enterprise and when done in wartime is a war crime. This evil charade must end.

Defence spending:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “How much our defence spending ‘contributes to American prosperity’” (yesterday, item 1). Interesting analysis from Bernard Keane on Australia’s defence spending and its contribution to “American prosperity”. I’m looking forward to some further analysis on how the US has consistently spent vastly more on defence as a percentage of GDP than has Australia — and how this very expensive US global security guarantee has contributed to world peace and prosperity since World War II.

Perhaps Bernard could also interview a couple hundred million east Europeans who no longer live under Soviet tyranny and ask them how they feel about the decades of US (and allied) “industry assistance” that led to their current state of affairs.

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Let’s cut to the chase. Military alliances such as NATO were formed for one major reason. While it has occasionally performed well, let’s not forget that NATO was originally formed after World War II so that the US could dominate western Europe militarily, politically and economically, with the UK being merely an aircraft carrier for the US. Increases in its membership simply means more countries come under US control.

Upon joining NATO and similar pacts, members are expected to buy a massive amount of US armaments and largely do as they are told. Oh well, we were once told that it was better to be dead than red. Now the line is: it is better to be broke than something else, which is never really explained.

NATO and similar pacts should be disbanded and its roles taken over by the UN or European Union, if they can get their act together

Respect for the PM:

David Hand writes: David Thakrah (yesterday, comments) complaint about a lack of respect for the office of Prime Minister mistakenly blames misogyny.

The damage was actually done when Kevin’s (remember him?) Gen Y media advisers had all that spare time, because they only shave once a week, to dream up the new, hip, trendy, telegenic slogan, “Hello, I’m Kevin, I’m from Queensland and I’m here to help!”