Religious teaching review ruled out

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 08:36 25/07/2014

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Education Minister Hekia Parata is not considering a review of the law allowing religious instruction in state schools.

Christchurch mother Tanya Jacob, along with the Secular Education Network (SEN), is leading a fight against the Education Act sections that permit volunteers to teach religion after her son felt discriminated against and was made to wash dishes for opting out at his school. They are asking for a review of the Act.

Parata said she was not considering a review of the Education Act .

"I'm more concerned to ensure that parents have the opportunity to express their views." It was up to individual boards of trustees to decide whether religious instruction was offered to pupils, and members were chosen through a democratic process.

"Parents have choice. If they don't want to have their children going to a school that offers that, then choose another school." Christianity was where the country's "traditional history" came from.

"The country as a whole at a public national level still has a view about the place of that in our society." She predicted the role of religion in education could eventually change, as the population "decides that that is what it wants to happen".

It would have to be a problem among a majority of schools before she considered any kind of review of the ability for schools to provide religious instruction.

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said religion in schools was a "vexed area" and he would be open to a review.

SEN spokesman David Hines said the people being hurt by bibles in schools were often in a minority. "But that's what human rights is about, caring for minorities." Christianity was being taught as superior to other religions, and that people with no religion were morally inferior.

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