I’m always a little perplexed by how offended some Christians get when they they are confronted by resistance to their “religious education” classes. Many of them really do consider it a personal attack on them, when the reality is that their bible in schools classes are an attack on others to convert the minds of our kids.
This blog is part of a story about my experience with religious education in my Daughter’s school. If you missed the start of it, you can find the beginning here.
New Zealand State Schools are meant to be non-religious (secular) but because these classes have been around for so long now, that many Christians think they have an inherent right to be there. When I’ve questioned the validity of the classes, reactions vary from puzzlement, to anger at being challenged. Questioning their right to evangelise their beliefs to primary school children seems to be the same as calling them bad people!
I have no problem with other people having their own beliefs. I know lots of really nice religious people whom I have great respect for. I’m related to a lot of them! What I do have a problem with is any religious group, Christian or otherwise, who think that it is ethical or moral to access young children in their “religion-free” school to evangelise their beliefs. I have an even bigger problem with the headmasters, teachers and boards of trustees that let it happen. Let’s not mince words; in my opinion, it is unethical and immoral to use your position of authority in a secular state primary school to further religious agendas.
I’m far from the only one who thinks this way. There are many religious people; Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and otherwise, who think the same way. The Secular Education Network has members from many different faiths who understand that school should be about education, not evangelism.
I struggled to get any unbiased, objective response when I approached the School Board of Trustees. They implied in their eventual response to my complaints that the issue was something to do with my beliefs versus the beliefs of others in the school community. Here’s what Board Chairman, Dean Adams wrote…
We appreciate that you feel passionate in relation to your beliefs but also appreciate there are other members of our school community who feel just as passionate about wanting it to continue and are equally able to justify its inclusion.
They completely missed the point of the complaint. I was not and never would try to impose my own religious beliefs (or lack thereof) on other people’s kids in a primary school. It’s just wrong. My complaint about the Bible in Schools classes is not anti-Christian, it is anti-evangelism. Ironically, they have never given any reasoning for having the classes in the first place other than murmurs about “tradition” and “status quo”.
Christian evangelism in NZ Primary Schools is a growing issue that the general public are not yet aware of. There are many different programmes and services that various organisations offer to state schools under guises such as; confidence courses, leadership courses, counselling and after-school care. It’s extremely deceptive and it’s happening all over New Zealand. Is it happening at your kids school?
Please comment below! You can read more about my personal experience of religion instruction in school here.