This article is taken from a brochure written by David Hines that the Secular Education Network distributed to parents outside the gates of Glendowie Primary school in Auckland. The situation gained the attention of national media and was covered in an article in Stuff. The teacher’s manual that SEN was able to review is rarely handed out to parents. I have asked for copies of them many times but been either ignored or refused access. Note that this is only one of several teacher manuals. The most incriminating one is probably the year one manual (I have seen a copy from 2015) where 5-year-olds are uncritically introduced to belief in the Christian god through a series of lessons starting with the creation myth that are taught as fact. Find out more about Bible in Schools here.
What the Churches Education Commission didn’t want parents to know about Bible in Schools
Parents at Glendowie Primary School were being polled the week of May 6, 2018, about whether they wanted religious instruction programmes to continue but the poll form doesn’t say what the programmes are about.
Fortunately, the school let parents look at a copy in their school office. Stas Kulesh took up the offer and studied the instruction booklet the Christian volunteers are using.
The Secular Education Network has been trying without success for years to get some of this material. Stas and other parents were shocked to find that…
Every lesson ends with a prayer…
Here are 10 from the Life Choices syllabus used at Glendowie Primary School:
- Dear God, thank you for the amazing story of Mary and her Bible. Please help me to decide what is really important and help me to keep on working to achieve that goal. Amen.
- Dear God, thank you for the story of the Israelites and their banners. Please help us to carry our banners well. Amen.
- Dear God, thank you for the story of Jesus and the calming of the storm. Please help us to be good peacekeepers. Amen.
- Dear God, thank you for the things we have learned about Jesus in all these lessons. Thank you that we are all unique and special. Help us to love what is unique in others. Amen
- Please God, help us to make the right choice. Amen.
- Please God, please help me to be brave when I hear and see things that are wrong. Help me to be ready to say no when I am asked to do wrong. Amen.
- Dear God, thank you for the story of Dorcas. Please help us to share and care for our friends and family this week. Amen. (The story says Dorcas may have spoken two languages and have been able to tell lots of people about Jesus.)
- Dear God, thank you for the lesson about Easter from the Bible. Help us to understand it better.
- Dear God, it is hard for us to imagine how Jesus must have felt being punished when he had done nothing wrong. Thank you that today we could learn some more about what the Bible tells us about Easter. Amen.
- Dear God, thank you that you turned two sad men into happy ones when they realised that Jesus was alive. Thank you that we can be happy when we read in the Bible that Jesus is alive. Amen.
The lessons feature rote learning about the Bible
The clues for a crossword for session three are:
3. The name of the mountain Elijah went to (Horeb)
5 The name of the Queen (Jezebel)
6. The name of a prophet who had a victory on Mount Carmel (Eklijah)
1. The name of the King (Ahab)
2 What the prophet wanted to do in the desert (die)
4. The name of the god worshipped by the Queen in this story (Baal
The stories illustrated by this crossword include Queen Jezebel killing every prophet of God she could find, and Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal in a contest of miracles on Mount Carmel.
They are spared the stories of Elijah’s supporters killing the prophets of Baal, and throwing the Queen out a window onto a street, where she is eaten by dogs, but in the Introduction Unit, session 1, they are encouraged to read the Bible for themselves and told “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s word.”
They won’t hear any positive stories about Muslim or Hindu ideas of god, nor of any non-religious values and priorities, including critical thinking. They will not be told that many Christians and Jews do not believe the CEC interpretation of the Bible.
The lessons include “values”, with a Christian emphasis
An earlier version of the Life Choices syllabus was reviewed by religious studies professor Paul Morris (Link to PDF), of Victoria University. He found that this and other syllabuses did not match the claims made for them by the Churches Education Commission since they are not suitable for use with children from non-Christian religions, or non-religious backgrounds, and even unsuitable for Christian children with views different from those promoted by CEC.
He also rejected the claim that they support the values of the NZ Curriculum. He said in important respects they are actually opposed to those values.
He also offered to review the latest version of Life Choices, once a copy can be made available.
Does the Secular Education Network oppose all mention of religion in state schools?
A few members do, but most are in favour of children learning about main religious and non-religious views as part of social studies, art and history.
However, we believe Bible in Schools is discriminatory and leads to bullying. Even children who do not attend are treated as second-class citizens.
A number of us are taking a case to the High Court asking for the laws that permit Bible in Schools and other forms of evangelism should be ruled inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.
We also want the Education Act amended so that teaching about religion in schools is monitored to ensure it is neutral, and welcoming to children from all religious and non-religious backgrounds.
Our team of 25 witnesses includes parents, teachers, atheists, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and, religious studies experts, and students.
Find out more; support our campaign
Join our Facebook group: “Secular Education Network (NZ)”
Donate to our High Court legal costs: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/tanyajacob-davidhines
Contact: David Hines, SEN public relations officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 027-325-1382