Aug 17, 2012

Religion in schools: why teachers, parents are powerless to stop it

Religious groups can enter government schools without the permission of parents or even the school. Ben Westcott talks to principals and parents about Christian groups in the classroom and the playground.

“Sometimes we have a chocoholics day and we’d just put up posters containing some good-looking chocolate and say come to this room at lunchtime,” says Christian schools worker Paul Bremner describing one of the ways he advertises his lunchtime “Student Focus” program.

It might surprise parents to learn that religious groups can enter government schools without their permission and, in some cases, without the schools’. Crikey reported on Monday of one teacher’s experience with a Baptist group entering his secondary college and giving kids chocolate while discussing matters of faith. Author Chris Fotinopoulos was shocked with the lack of permission slips and supervision during the event.

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20 thoughts on “Religion in schools: why teachers, parents are powerless to stop it

  1. Neil Doody

    Somewhat frightening…my atheist son appears better protected at his Anglican grammar school where they can tell these types to bugger off.

  2. Zjonn

    I would have thought that the chocolate/lolly trick would have been outlawed by the system. Isn’t that one of the strategies pedafiles use in luring kids into cars. Do these people have working with children permits, something I would have thought to be quite difficult to get, for anyone heavily involved with religion, as history tells us that it is usually either parents or religious freaks who are lean this way!

  3. Andrew

    Crikey, you don’t need to run an anti-SRI campaign. The Age is already doing a good enough hatchet job. The bottom line is if your child doesn’t want to attend or you don’t want your child to attend, they don’t have to. Because Christianity is the majority religious group in Australia and has had an enormous role in shaping Australia’s society, it is fair enough to have 30 mins per week where children can learn about its main teachings. If you have an issue with how the school treats children who don’t participate, ask the school to improve that – don’t blame the SRI teacher.
    Zjonn, all ACCESS ministries teachers and chaplains must have working with children checks.

  4. Jobby

    There’s a big difference between ‘learning about religion’ and unquestioning indoctrination, Andrew.

  5. Microseris

    Andrew, as a parent I object to having something for which there is zero evidence presented as fact to my kids. This is the reality. We are supposed to have a secular government school education but the rules are bent to facilitate the wishes of religious groups who lobby the two major parties.

    If you want to believe in your imaginary friend thats all well and good, but in a multicultural country if Christians want this access to the kiddies, then all the other religions and belief systems should get the same.

  6. Bryannai Baillieu

    “The Christian schools are harder to get into than the government ones.”

    Says it all doesn’t it. If the Christian schools don’t trust these people why should people in the public system?
    I presume it would also encourage parents of other faiths not to send their kids to the public system.

  7. Holden Back

    @ Bryannai Baillieu, Let alone those parents who might have a serious Christian faith, and don’t want to see it trivialised by cheap-trick proselytising.

  8. Sam

    Andrew raises an interesting point. Given the important role that the Westminster system has played in Australian history, it would be entirely appropriate for children to spend at least half an hour a week memorising its procedures and operations, all the while proclaiming why it’s so awesome. This should preferrably be done while consuming unhealthy snacks.

  9. Aaron F

    What a disgrace. In a time of childhood obesity where junk food advertising times are questioned religious groups are given access to impressional young minds who will then associate Jesus with a pleasant experience.

    Andrew, if you really want them to learn about what influenced Western Society they should also/really cover the Egyption Book of the Dead, Mithra (and a number of other deities that have the same storyline as Jesus, predating Jesus), the church endorsed slavery in past centuries, the fact that they wouldn’t be reading the Bible in English at all if the Church continued burning people at the stake like they did the first person who translated it into English (for blasphemy), the cruel, indirect and strange ways God punishes people (read punishing the Egyptian Pharoh for not letting Moses and his people go by inflicting plagues and killing first borns – perhaps plagues on the Pharoh himself would have been better), the fact that God is selectively omnipotent (re tests of Abraham and Job). They’d obviously teach intelligent design, but then have to teach how sickly Adam and Eve were considering how many human only viruses etc they would have had to be carrying for the viruses to exist today. They’d obviously teach the kids about Noah’s Arc, including how all the marsupials travelled to Noah’s place. (Though it is the Lord Howe Island stick insect that I really feel sorry for – getting all the way to Noah’s place – family planning / life cycle planning nightmare – survives the flood and gets all the way back to Lord Howe Island (dropped off by their new Kangaroo friends they met on the cruise perhaps), and now it is endangered!). Of course all the girls in the class would be sold into slavery at the end of the class just as it says in the bible.

    Perhaps we should teach the evolution of primates and their social norms etc, and then the Greek and Roman societies (before Emporor Constantine got the Council of Nicea together in 325AD to piece together the error ridden and contradictory book based on brief accounts of people who lived AT LEAST 40 years after Jesus died) instead.

  10. Aaron F

    Unfortunately too many religious people will vote for religious policies first. As an atheist, policies (like the one above) would be a lower priority that which party I agreed with on the more important topics. Not so for many religious people. Hence unfortunately an atheist PM (and in fact all politicians) to have pro-religion policies to have any chance of keeping the votes of many of the religious, no matter how good their other policies.

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