It's time we booted God out of our public school classrooms.
That we still trust churches to be anywhere near our school-kids is bad enough; that we're happy to stand by and let them preach their propaganda under the guise of "values" is a nauseating betrayal. No wonder parents are starting to kick up. Presumably, one of the reasons they choose to send their children to public schools in the first-place is to avoid the happy-clappers. If they wanted God involved, they could have sent them to religious alternatives.
Spare me the tripe about children having the ability to "opt out" of these pseudo Bible-classes. What a cheek. Surely, if we're to continue having them, those who want their kids guided by mythical stories of an iron-aged politician should be forced to "opt in", as was proposed back in 2006. To make exceptions of those who don't believe in magic and ghosts is to get the cart seriously in front of the horse. The default setting should be secular.
Not that it's just the issue of having Team God inside our public classrooms that grates. Anyone can teach values, after all; public schools already instruct in areas such as care and consideration, empathy and tolerance. No, the bit that really smells is the promotion of the church as the arbiter of all morality. By association, kids are being encouraged to think of religion as a benevolent, responsible and credible influence.
Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. These people are just salespeople, grooming the most vulnerable members of our community for their own evangelical ends, as they've always done. They're modern day missionaries, hoping their teachings will rub off on enough of our kids to keep their church pews stocked for another few years. Giving them access to public schools legitimises not just the lessons, but their entire institution. It is a recruitment campaign.
Values? It was only a couple of months ago that Pope Benedict took time out to remind us of the Catholic Church's warped view on life; describing the steady approach of gay marriage as a threat to "humanity itself". This, from a bloke who opposes the use of condoms, is an enemy of women's rights and has described homosexuality as "evil" and "immoral". And yet we allow disciples of this nutter to chat to our kids about tolerance?
Never mind the politics. We're talking about allowing folk who are often rabidly red-necked in terms of their morality (homophobic, paternalistic and with a twisted view of sexuality education) the chance to persuade our school children that their worldview is best. It would be funny if weren't so twisted. The churches they represent have been a pox on mankind; opposing progress at every turn. Yet we still offer them a platform to spread their germs.
It's not as if they have a mandate. As a study from the Pew Research Centre demonstrated, even Americans are starting to wake up to the absurdity of institutionalised religion. And the trend has been pretty constant in New Zealand too; at every census more of us identify as having "no religion". A recent Sunday Star-Times reader poll showed more respondents against Bible-classes than for. No wonder priests want to get their hands on our kids.
Which raises a few questions. Don't you think it's time to tell churches they're no longer welcome in our classrooms; that we can see through their indoctrination plans? That we know what they represent has less to do with teaching kids values and more to do with teaching them that believing in God is normal? Shouldn't we be teaching them the opposite? I mean, as someone (who I should remember but have sadly forgotten) said a while ago, what we want to see is our children in pursuit of education.
Not education, and particularly the religious variety, in pursuit of our children.
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