Be wary of groups who want to cleanse society to their ways

NARELLE HENSON
Last updated 12:07 09/06/2014

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OPINION: One of the more remarkable things about the world is that it's full of different people. There are big ones, small ones, sporty ones, musical ones, happy ones, sad ones, religious ones and atheist ones.

The whole seething mass of us have ended up on the planet together, and for the vast majority of the time, we get along.

History is drenched in blood at some points, but when you get to thinking about it, despite incredible differences, most people on the planet have not killed each other.

They have graciously and humbly accepted the difference around them and simply got on with life. It seems the commonsense thing to do - to me, at least. After all, there are so many people who believe so many different things that to try to control it all would certainly end in disaster.

So when a small, and militant, group emerges in society with the aim of cleansing the public space of any view opposed to its, we ought to be wary. Who, after all, decided those people were right and the rest of us wrong?

You might know what I'm taking about. A group of lobbyists is working to have Bible in Schools removed from public schools.

Yes, I've written about it before - and that's because it astonishes me so. Despite more than half the population of New Zealand claiming some religious affiliation, these people are trying to remove education about our majority faith from schools. It seems our principals and communities aren't intelligent enough to decide what is best for their children and need a little help from those who believe they know better but have no real interest in whether the outcome is better or worse for each community.

It might seem strange that such people exist in a modern world that calls itself open-minded and tolerant, and indeed it is.

Perhaps it's even stranger because the most militant of those involved in the group would have to confess that, ultimately, they require as much faith for their worldview as does the Christian, the Muslim or the Buddhist. That's because the one thing science certainly can't prove is the nonexistence of a thing, especially a thing like God. Philosophy is silent when asked to answer where we came from (except if you are Richard Dawkins, in which case you suggest we might have come from aliens).

Literature only records our arguments over the topic and history only offers answers to what might have happened inside of time and space, where we exist.

That's why, from my point of view, schools are exactly the right place for religious education.

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After all, schools are a part of that marvellous thing called the public sphere where all of us different human beings come together.

There is simply no way to ignore, once that meeting happens, the fact that we all have different beliefs, or the fact that those beliefs have massively shaped history. Quite simply, to eradicate faith from schools is censoring the public space, and robbing our children of the chance to take part is the most vital conversation of all - the conversation about what it really means to be human.

- Waikato

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