Bible classes cut after campaign
An Auckland school is cutting bible lessons following pressure from parents and a public campaign against religious education.
Torbay School announced the decision in its latest newsletter, saying it was based on "what's best for the children's learning" rather than external pressures.
"The Torbay School Board of Trustees has made a decision based on parent feedback, volume of responses and other considerations"
Parents were asked whether they supported religious education. Of those who responded, 60 per cent supported religious education and 40 per cent voted for it to be cut from class.
The Secular Education Network launched a campaign earlier this year to scrap religious education from classrooms.
Public schools are secular, but a loophole in the rules allows schools to close during class time to allow volunteers to teach Bible-based values.
Parents can opt out if they do not want their children to attend.
The network was celebrating the school's decision as a victory for their campaign.
Spokesman David Hines said it represented a turning tide against religious classes.
"It doesn't suit a multicultural society. That's my basic objection," he said.
The North Shore is home to many different religious groups including Muslims and Buddhists.
Even Christians are now opposing religion in schools - Hines is one of a dozen Christian members of the Secular Education Network.
The network plans to step up protests and run pamphlet drops as others schools look at their programmes for 2013.
Hines said he estimated about a third of schools were reviewing their religious education policies.
The network is focusing on two schools considering Bible programmes: Red Beach is asking parents whether to continue its programme, and Mayfield in Otara is asking them whether to start one.
The Churches Education Commission, the biggest provider of Christian instruction in schools, earlier defended the Bible classes as value-based learning.
A CEC spokesperson said the classes were a way to make people aware of Christianity and teach values, rather than convert children.
Individual boards of trustees decide whether to allow Christian education in their schools.