This is a conversation I had with a Bible in Schools teacher ( I use the term “teacher” loosely) in response to the Newshub article about the Human Rights Commission supporting a court case to rule on religious instruction in secular state primary schools.
It is rare that a church volunteer is willing to discuss what they do or defend it any length on a public forum. The sense of moral superiority and entitlement still comes across very strongly in this conversation and there is little attempt from her to understand my views, consider the evidence or even respond to questions or points I raised. However, it still gives an interesting insight into how they see it. Basically, it is for our own good!
The conversation is as-written. The only thing I changed is to remove comments from another person who entered late in the piece and didn’t add anything.
BIST: Absolutely ridiculous. I’m a Bible and schools teacher. We are using a new curriculum that requires us to be extremely careful what we teach. We focus on teaching children good values.
Why should you be able to teach your religious faith in a non-religious state primary school? Why should we have to remove our daughter from her own classroom to avoid your religion?
BIST: BIS is optional. It’s not being forced. From my experience the children enjoy it. I’ve found most parents are happy for their children to be taught good values.
That is not an answer to my question. It’s more like saying “but I really want to impose my religion on your kids school because some people agree with me”.
I’ve found that Christians who promote bible in schools have spectacularly appalling values. They are so incredibly arrogant that they don’t even show respect to people who are telling them they are sick of being discriminated against by them. Giving me the option to remove my daughter from your religious indoctrination class while she’s in the non-religious school we chose for her is not “good values”. It is Christian bullying. It’s like taking someone’s money without asking and then expecting them to be grateful that you’ve given them the option to ask for it back!
We do not need your religion to teach values.
BIST: You sound like a very angry bitter man. You need Jesus.
And you sound like someone who resorts to personal attacks when you have no answers to difficult questions.
That’s a good example of the type of Christian values I was talking about.
BIST: Says you who calls Christians arrogant, bullying, appalling, disrespectful, and paints them all with the same brush lol. In all seriousness the Lord can take that anger away from you
In all seriousness.., answer the question, stop being patronising and evading the issue. You are demonstrating exactly the kind of “values” I am accusing you of.
I can demonstrate many, many cases of Christian arrogance, bullying and lack of respect due to bible in schools. In fact, there is a court case coming that has a ton of evidence to prove it.
I am telling you that parents get pissed off that they have to remove their kids to avoid you teaching them your religious faith in their non-religious school.
I personally know people who leave their kids in bible classes because they are afraid of their kids being stigmatised by other kids if they are opted out. My own daughter has [been] harassed by kids continually asking her why she doesn’t believe in god. So yeah, thanks for your bible classes.
You’ve obviously made no attempt at all to understand how we feel about this issue. If you really do care, then find out more. https://religiouseducation.co.nz/opt-out-kids-treated-badly/
BIST: And judging from that expression you could do with some joy in your soul.
I’ve given you the opportunity to discuss a serious issue that is important to a lot of people. One that affects young children… and you choose to be patronising and evasive instead of engaging.
BIST: If you don’t like BIS opt out of it, simple as that. The fact is many parents do want it. Not being patronizing just have a sense of humour. If you’ve taken that the wrong way your problem. You clearly aren’t willing to discuss anything. Your questions were full of insults. I bet you have never even looked through a BIS curriculum. Sit through a lesson before you judge, and we can talk later.
BIST: Lighten up. Have a beer, take a chill pill or whatever you need to do to calm down. For me it’s Jesus. Have a good day sir.
If you like religion, go to church, simple as that. The fact is that many parents don’t want it. If you don’t like that, stay out of our kid’s secular state schools.
I’ve asked two questions that you say are “full of insults”. Let me know where the insults are…
1. Why should you be able to teach your religious faith in a non-religious state primary school?
2. Why should we have to remove our daughter from her own classroom to avoid your religion?
I’ve read a few of the teacher guides that I’ve been able to get hold of. It’s quite difficult when the Churches Education Commission refuses to release them.
I don’t need to sit through a lesson to know that closing a secular school to promote religion is wrong. I suspect that you would agree with me if it was Islam and not Christianity. It’s all good if it’s your religion, right?
I would stand up and defend your right to your own religious beliefs and I would fight anyone that wanted to indoctrinate any religious view in primary schools – and that includes atheism. A shame that you are not willing to defend children’s right to freedom of and freedom from religion.
Have a read of this. The quotes from the Churches Education Commission are very enlightening. https://religiouseducation.co.nz/bible-in-schools/
BIST: Primary schools consist of religious and non-religious families. Most people affiliate with some kind of religion. BIS teachers are not trying to push their faith on anyone. We are STRICTLY forbidden to do that. An OPTION is provided for BIS teaching that helps to instill good values in children and focuses on building their self esteem, compliments what most parents are probably doing at home. Parents are welcome to sit in on BIS classes. Maybe in the future there will be options for other religions and atheism to be taught. At present most parents are happy with BIS and haven’t found it at all indoctrinating, going from the surveys. For children who don’t attend BIS there are other fun options. It’s not like they are sent to a concentration camp. I really don’t know what your problem is. Judging from the insults I received..arrogant etc, my guess is that you have had some bad experiences with Christians and totally hate them. It’s amazing how rude people can be on the internet, saying things to people that they wouldn’t normally say face to face.
BIST: Recently the whole BIS curriculum has been totally changed to be very neutral and ‘watered down.’ I have often thought I’m just teaching good values and nothing else. I’m not allowed any songs that mention Jesus as Lord etc. The phrase ‘Christians believe…’ is used rather than ‘You must believe..’ I’m also required to tell the children there are many different beliefs in the world, and it is entirely their choice what they choose to believe. Perhaps in the past there have been ‘pushy’ teachers. I certainly don’t agree with this, and as a BIS teacher I treat the children and their families respectfully.
Yes, primary schools consist of people with diverse religious views. That is why they have been secular since their inception in 1877.
This is a very simple issue. Either it’s about values or it’s about evangelising and it only comes down to 2 things…
1. If it’s about values, we don’t need church volunteers. We have teachers.
2. If it’s about evangelising, we don’t want church volunteers. Our schools are secular.
The reason our schools were created to be secular at a time when over 90% of NZ was Christian is that they expressly tried to remove the ability of competing religious factions to get access to children. That sounds like a group of enlightened Christians to me.
I have a copy of the current teacher guide for the CEC Life Choices introduction unit and I also have a copy of the previous version. It’s not so much “watered down” as “covered up”. Simply adding the words “Christians believe” at the beginning of a whole lesson does not make it educational. The rest goes on to teach everything as if it were a fact the same as the previous syllabus did. The really ironic thing about it is that the crux of Christianity is not taught. ie; Transmission of responsibility for sin from humanity to Jesus. So children are learning to believe in your teaching without even an understanding of the fundamental belief behind what you teach.
None of the beneficial things you teach require your religion to be taught. Not. One. Thing. So why should we segregate children on the basis of parent’s religious views? Gosh it would just be so mugh easier if everyone was Christian…
You’re now bringing up the old straw man argument of “Because you disagree with me, you must have had a bad experience and unreasonably hate Christians and because you disagree with me, you must be wrong and mean”. No, I didn’t and no I don’t. You’ve still given absolutely no reason why a secular state school should be closed so that you can come and teach from the bible.
This is nothing I wouldn’t say to your face. It IS arrogant to expect a non-religious school to close for bible classes and for the kids who don’t want it to have to stop their studying and shuffle off somewhere else! How woud you like it if I interupted the kids in your churches Sunday School classes with a 30 minute lesson every week about how there’s no such thing as god? Giving bible classes in secular school is not respectful of our rights to differing beliefs!
I don’t expect or need you to respect my beliefs or lack of belief, I simply want you to allow my children to grow up before you try and spread your beliefs to them. Glossing over the fact that there are other beliefs but not teaching about any of them is disingenuous.
Little kids simply do not have the maturity, status or knowledge to critically assess what you are telling them. There is no criticism whatsoever of Christian beliefs in what you teach like there would be in a genuine academic lesson. And why wouldn’t they believe it? It’s taught uncritically, repetitively, and from a position of authority. That is the definition of indoctrination.
Did you know that Crown Legal have told the Ministry of Education that religious instruction is a form of direct discrimination? That was 17 years ago and they have done nothing about it. I’ve included another link to prove it.
BIST: Again I’m not imposing my beliefs upon anyone. You won’t listen to me so I don’t see any point in this conversation continuing. I have kids to go and see to. Goodbye.
Incidentally, you might not realise that Christianity has been rapidly declining in NZ for over 50 years. The 2013 census was the first time that Christians accounted for less than 50% of the population. On the other hand, “No Religion” has been rapidly rising and is likely to be around 50% of the population in the 2018 census. It’s only a matter of time before the non-religious vote becomes more powerful than the Christian vote. Would you be happy for state primary schools to teach children there is no god after bible classes have been removed or would you prefer that state education didn’t intrude into private religious views?
BIST: They’re already teaching children there’s no God. Evolution is taught all the time. Not surprised Christianity is declining, predicted in the Bible.
BIST: Amazing how people get so worked up over the name of Jesus Christ isn’t it (Name of other Person)? His name seems to evoke such emotion and opposition…sadly the only name blasphemed.
I’m listening, I’m just not agreeing with you. You saying that you think bible classes are a good idea or that other people agree with you is not a conversation. You really haven’t addressed any of my criticisms.
Evolution has absolutely nothing to say about god. Blasphemy law is a good example of Christian’s imposing their beliefs on others wouldn’t you say?
BIST: I’m tired of his argument (Talking to another person). You can take over if you want lol.
BIST: We are now very careful that no particular doctrine is taught. Very values based, and the focus is on how to treat each other..values such as kindness, respect, consideration etc.
So what about the prayer at the end of each class?
BIST: They can pray if they want to. If they don’t that’s absolutely fine. Very short prayer, something along the lines of ‘Dear God, help us to be kind to each other this week.’ Problem with that?
BIST: No doubt there will be.
What are they for? I mean, wouldn’t it be manipulative to invite the kids to join in? Because that’s what you do, don’t you?
BIST: Oh Dave here we go again. You don’t give up do you? A nice way to finish off a lesson.
BIST: I can say a prayer for you if you like. God bless you.
BIST: He needs Jesus. (In response to another person)
I believe what you do is invite the kids to join you if they agree with what was taught in the lesson. So in effect, they would have to disagree with a lesson on say, “being kind” in order to decline the invitation the way you offer it. That is manipulative.
Back to being patronizing… you should read back through the conversation. I think I’ve responded to every point you’ve made, whereas you have ignored almost every point I’ve made.
BIST: Hope Dave finds out how much God loves him one day.
Is this another example of your values in action? I’m trying to have a mature discussion and you keep resorting to petty and patronizing gibes. It would be like me saying I hope you realize your god-beliefs are silly and you learn to think for yourself. It’s not exactly conducive to understanding others views.
BIST: I don’t mind if you do say that. Think what you want. I am what I am. If you are interpreting me a certain way that’s up to you. I just know the Lord has done amazing things for me in my life. It’s all about relationship not religion. I’ve been miraculously healed from something-no medical explanation, been freed from an addiction, known Jesus working in my life. As a BIS teacher I teach values and don’t push my faith on others. However outside of BIS I’m unashamed of being Christian and genuinely hope others come to know the God who loves them.
Teaching bible in schools is by definition, pushing your faith on others.
1. The school has to close to allow it.
2. The BOT votes to allow their preferred religion into a secular school.
3. Children are required by law to opt out.
4. Opt out children aren’t allowed to continue learning the curriculum.
I’m not sure what else you could do to push your faith on other people’s children short of forcing them to attend your classes.
Every time I talk to a bible teacher, I get the distinct impression that you couldn’t care less how you negatively affect the families and children who you’re forcing into such an unpleasant situation. We’re either forced to opt our children out and label ourselves as “anti-christian” or we have to leave our children in the classes so they fit in and hope they don’t get indoctrinated. In your zealous desire to confirm your own beliefs, you and the schools who allow bible classes betray us and our children.
That was where I left the conversation. It seemed pointless continuing further if she wasn’t willing to consider any of the points I brought up. Note that she never asked me any questions about how the classes affect children who opt out, didn’t ask about other parents, didn’t care about the legal advice saying the classes were discriminatory and she didn’t respond to my last comments, at all. I can only hope that when she reflects back on this conversation that she may ask herself the questions she was so determined to avoid in our chat.
It boggles the mind that someone can be so convinced they are doing good when people who are directly affected (myself and others in the overall discussion) were saying repeatedly that the classes cause harm. I can only assume that it comes down to the willful ignorance that is required for her to maintain her beliefs or self-image in the face of contradictory information.
Another commenter later referred to bible in schools teachers as “self-righteous prigs”. I can’t say I disagree. Let me know what you think below!