Another Hit For Religious Education


Religious Education

Another Hit For Religious Education

1 August 2012 Hits:3993

I can’t speak for every teacher of CRE but I know that in my six years of teaching I found the students (grade 5 & 6) enjoyed the lessons and discussions and that the teachers were also very much onside as they saw the benefits of CRE teaching.   The provision of a basic understanding of the Christian faith is beneficial to all students, and parents who don’t wish for their children to participate can opt out.  I found that many parents were more than happy for their children to participate – children from different religious backgrounds or no religion at all.

Rather than Access Ministries overstepping the mark, the furor has the hallmark of yet another attack on Christian influence in the public square.  And now here comes another one.

“Parents Victoria (“PV”) will be voting this Thursday and Friday at their AGM on a motion to remove Special Religious Instruction from schools.  The motion originates from, and has already been passed by, the teachers’ union, Victoria Branch of the Australian Education Union.  If it passes at PV, then the PV Executive will support the teachers’ union and lobby for the removal of SRI as well.” – That was the correspondence sent out recently by Parents Victoria.

The Motion that will be voted on reads as follows: “Parents Victoria endorses the motion passed by the Victoria Branch of the Australian Education Union May 13, 2011, and joins our teachers in calling for Special Religious Instruction to be moved outside of the normal school day by directing the Parents Victoria Executive to lobby to move SRI outside the compulsory school day.”  That is, that CRE or SRI would be an afterschool activity much like singing, dancing and some sports.

Part of the reasoning for such a move is that schools are secular and so no religion should be taught.  It could also be seen to be unfair to people of different religions – even though over 61% of Australians still classify themselves as Christian compared to non-Christian religions at 7.2% and those who don’t identify with any religion at 31.7%.  But it just seems that there are some people with an anti-Christian agenda who want us all out of the school system no matter what.

The bizarre twist in this latest move against CRE is that there is another motion being put forward at this AGM.  This states: “That Parents Victoria lobbies the Department of Education for all government schools to receive specific funding to allow them to provide expert continuing Cybersafety programs to their students and parents.”  While I’m all in favour of education for Cybersafety it strikes me as shortsighted that Parents Victoria seem to fail to see the inconsistency. Instead of trying to remove Christianity from our schools they should instead embrace it because the basic tenets of the Christian faith lead a person to lead a moral life and be loving and kind to others – qualities, I would have thought, would go along way to increasing the effectiveness of Cybersafety for our precious children.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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3 replies on “Another Hit For Religious Education”

Darren Hsays:

Great article Rob. People tend to forget their historical roots. I think SRI should be taught as part of our history. It’s fairly obvious that the majority of first world nations of today all have Christianity in its history. There is nothing to fear people…

Martin J Cowlingsays:

Hi Rob
I was going to reply privately but I thought what the heck. I am an ex RE teacher over many years – and I believe I was a very good one but I have some questions about SRE.
Has the Church ever examined the real effectiveness of what was taught? Of the millions of Aussie school kids who have been exposed to 100s of hours of RE teaching why are they not all Christians? Because I believe you cannot teach Christianity.Its a relationship. I accept that I may have sowed many seeds but I also wonder how much RE has inoculated people against the Gospel?? of the friends of mine from my school that became Christians, not one did because of RE. They did it because of the witness of peers.

The real test is the grace and dignity with how Christians approach the reality of the secular world we live in. The reality is that schools and parents do not see the value add of RE. Worse they see Christian behaviour that is appalling. They see and hear the news about the many Churches have been responsible for harm to children. Christians are seen as unloving, not united, not accepting and deceptive. Not a good list and for good reason I can see why people dom not want to see us in their kid;s classrooms.

We can act like petulant children and demand that we be kept in the curriculum but what will our effectiveness be when we are acting as an unwanted guest?

The real questions for Christians are How do we witness in a secular world? What value add can we give schools? How can we Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us? How can we show we are loving of God and humans.

If we get that right, I think the loss of Christian RE from schools will not be that significant.

Hope you dont mind the alternative viewpoint here.


Steve Cioccolantisays:

In a Buddhist country, there is no debate about Buddhist RE.
In a Muslim country, there is no debate about Muslim RE.
Is it effective? Does it make people believe? Would “living a good Buddhist life” be better instead of teaching Buddhism? None of these are ever questioned, every child learns a religion in other countries.

Why should we doubt the value of Christian RE? Why not have both: train Christians to live better lives in the marketplace as well as teach RE? “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works” (Matt 5:16) has to be balanced with “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom 10:14) Different people come to Christ different ways.

Today I taught in a school and 50 hands raised to ask Jesus to wash their hearts of sin and be born again. 2 came up to me to know about the Holy Spirit, and both received their prayer language. 1 was in need of healing and received. That was a one hour visit. I’m sure good RE teachers make a more lasting impression than I could.

Rob, love the irony you saw in pushing for internet safety while dismantling all moral structure in our students! GBU

Ps Steve

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