I Would Like to Offer a One-Sided View of Religion to your Vulnerable Children Please
Some bureaucratic cock wearing snazzy trousers with a sharp crease down the leg in the Victorian Education Department recently decided, with legal advice*, in the case of religious instruction in Victorian primary schools, that the word 'may', where it appears in the relevant legislation, actually means, wait for it, 'must'. Wow.
No it doesn't. Never has.
In short, the department has decided that if a religious group (as long as it's the Christian religious education provider Access Ministries) approaches a state primary school with the offer of religious instruction, it 'must' be take up by the school.
This is regardless of whether the principal, the teachers, the parents or, indeed, the students, want it or not. Irrespective of whether there are kids of other cultures, religions and backgrounds at the school which, you would have to think, would be the case 100% of the time. Christianity may well be the dominant religion in this country, but it hardly represents a cross section of society. At least those members of society that I hang with.
There's no compulsion to teach kids about any other religions, let alone teach them anything about the lack of scientific basis for the existence of supernatural beings. At least not until these kids have a dedicated science class. Even then, I doubt the average science teacher would be as passionate about atheism, assuming he/she is an atheist, as a fundamentalist Christian nerd is about Christianity.
Religious Instruction under these circumstances is to be taken in the main classroom for half an hour per week, as a normal part of the curriculum. Children do have the right to 'opt out'. But where does this leave the very few children** who do opt out? Another class is generally not provided for them. Often, I understand, they're made to sharpen pencils, run errands or sit reading books by themselves. They're made to feel like outsiders while the majority of the class remains under the formal learning umbrella.
Imagine how difficult that decision is for the parent who wants to opt their child out. The child wouldn't want to opt out. Especially at the age of 5 or 6 where all they care about is sitting next to their best friends.
This is a totally unacceptable situation. That children are given a biased view of religion. That they're being indoctrinated into Christianity regardless of background. That the parents who feel strongly enough to avoid their children undergoing indoctrination by Christians (whether it's because they're Athieists, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or for any other rational reason) are made to feel like second class citizens.
So much for our secular society and the division of church and state.
My son attends a primary school where religious instruction has apparently never been offered and, according to the principal, who is very much against the idea, is extremely unlikely ever to be. This is most likely due to the demographic of the student population***.
So for now my son is safe from such gross misrepresentation of reality and generally unfair beans. And if it does ever happen I plan to sit in on the session and ask hard questions****.
* Possibly Dennis Denuto
** History suggests that most children don't opt out
***Migrants, weirdos and smarmy artists
**** Such as "Please explain Epicurus' Paradox"