Recently released documents obtained by an Official Information Act request show that the Ministry of Education has been hiding the fact that they knew religious instruction classes were not compliant with the Human Rights Act 1993 and that they discriminated against children and parents on the grounds of religious beliefs.
Section 17 of the report says; “…the provisions [for RI classes] could be challenged on the grounds of direct discrimination, for which there is no such defence.” (ie; a good reason for the discrimination). Both the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education know this but neither of them have made any public statement disputing it. In fact, they ignore anyone who questions them on it, skirting the issue with irrelevant responses.
Read the document from the Ministry of Education legal division (relevant areas highlighted) This is only 6 pages from a total of 34 pages that were released.
The documents were originally requested two years ago by Tanya Jacob of the Secular Education Network but were only released with large areas of them redacted (blacked out). Repeated requests finally succeeded in having them released in full. They show that the Minister of Education, Trevor Mallard, approved no changes to religious instruction, even though his own legal experts said that religious instruction has no defence on the grounds of direct discrimination.
Oddly, when this damning news was sent to the media, the NZ Herald decided to release an article about it on a Sunday afternoon and not share it to their facebook page either. So today, on Monday morning, the article is buried beneath today’s news.
It will be interesting to see either the NZ Herald or other media pick this up and make more of it. It’s hard not to wonder if people within the NZ Herald, who are sympathetic to religious instruction, are deliberately trying to undermine the chances of this news being brought to the attention of a wider audience.
There’s certainly plenty of evidence for people in positions of power allowing their own religious bias to affect their decisions. Why shouldn’t this have been released in full two years ago?
This should quash some of the excuses that have been used to continue providing religious education classes in primary schools. Now we have a clear legal opinion that they are a form of religious discrimination, how will Boards of Trustees continue to justify bringing them into schools?
Should be interesting! Let me know what you think below!