Tag Archives: School

A Few Truths

Why do Christians lie so much? What is this “lying for Jesus” all about. A means to an end is not always the morally right thing to do.

There are several Christian lobby groups around these days with The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and Access Ministries being two very vocal, and apparently quite powerful, examples. The idea of a Christian lobby group should worry every right thinking person, religious or not. Why Christians need lobby groups is a thing to ponder, what ever happened to religious groups just doing what they do best – sings songs in churches and do a little charity work. When did they become so powerful? Are we seeing the march to a theocracy in this country?

ACL wrote this small article titled “A few truths of the religion in schools debate” supporting a Bishop who had written an article in Online Opinion (OO) complaining about The Age’s reporting of Christian Religious Education.

OzAz wrote the following comment in reply to the ACL:

Truth? You wouldn’t know the meaning of the word Truth.

If, as you’d like to portray, Christianity is the predominant religion in Australia (at last census about 60%, BUT only about 20% actual practitioners) then how can you cry “oppression”?

Australians, by and large, aren’t fearful of religion, most just don’t care either way. What we do fear is right wing fundamentalist religious organisations using tax payer funded money (for which they are totally unaccountable for!) to promote their narrow minded view of the world based on, what many believe, to be an out-dated book.

Even adherents of the various holy books do not adhere to everything written in them, so why should the rest of us adhere to anything written in them?

Some may suspect that the only reason your group, and other groups like yours, are so keen to use tax payers and parishioners money to lobby government to spend even more tax payer dollars on allowing CRE, Chaplains in schools and other forms of ensuring you get a foothold into schools and therefore young and impressionable minds is to procure more followers. The more followers the more money you can make. Pity this money isn’t always used for good charitable works.

PS I have copied this and will paste it to various other blogs and forums as I suspect you won’t have the dignity or adhere to freedom of speech and allow this comment to be posted to your site.

OzAz has forwarded this comment to me for inclusion in my blog, as he suspects the ACL will not moderate his comment as the ACL seem to have a habit of not allowing any comment which questions them in any way shape or form.

As usual Chrys Stevenson has written an excellent response to Nicholas Tuohy’s article in OO, I recommend you read it.

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NSCP – I’ve had my say

Now have yours.

The Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations has posted an online survey requesting feedback on the National Schools Chaplaincy Program(NSCP), which Godless Business has posted about before. The survey asks 15 questions, some of which are check boxes the remainder require a short written answer.

My responses are as follows:

1 – Yes
2 – No, I think the minimum qualification should be higher
3 – Bachelor / University degree
4 – Youth work, Negotiation skills, Counselling skills, Other: Secular, Non-religious.
5 – Currently there is no requirement for chaplains to be qualified, this is a complete disgrace considering we are talking about vulnerable and impressionable children. Aside from the fact there should NOT be chaplains in public schools in the first place, school counsellors should have appropriate counselling qualifications, such as a Degree in psychology or similar.
6 – Yes
7 – Service providers should be suitably qualified to deal with all problems children may experience. They should, as much as possible, be free from any and all biases. Religious chaplains, due to the dogmas of their respective churches, carry biases, such as anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, that may make it more difficult for them to provide unbiased information to some children.
8 – Service providers should have qualifications that are recognised by applicable government medical authorities.
9 – Definitely not. The whole NSCP should be scrapped and replaced with a system that employs suitably qualified youth workers and/or psychologists. Counsellors should not be employed solely on the basis that are religious.
10 – Yes. And no. This question is loaded, in fact this whole questionnaire is loaded. It is being presented as though a chaplain is the best/only solution, and offering an option to include a non-faith based support worker is somehow being generous. You are avoiding the whole issue – it should not be about faith based versus non-faith based, it should be about employing the best people for the job regardless of their superstitions.
11 – Having support workers chosen based purely on their religious leanings is discriminatory and does not enable a school to choose the best, most suitably qualified, person for the job.
12 – An administration model that provides as many suitably qualified psychologists as possible, backed up by suitably qualified youth workers, and where requested suitably qualified pastoral care workers.
13 – Pooled funding
14 – The current system is not innovative in any way shape or form, having a system that employs religious chaplains as workers in schools harks back to the dark ages rather than the 21 century.
Computer based delivery systems could be utilised that provide guidance and information for common problems, that then link a child to a suitably qualified psychologist. For rural/remote areas, systems such as skype could be a cheap and effective one-to-one delivery system for initial consultations. A pool of suitably qualified support workers could be on hand to go to areas of need as required.
15 – Why is our government even supporting a chaplaincy program in the first place? Surely this program is both unconstitutional and discriminatory? The concept of “chaplain” implies a very Christian centred program, what about other religions and non-religious children? Doesn’t the current program discriminate against them in some way? The whole NSCP should be scrapped and a new secular program instigated that provides personnel who are suitably trained to look after the needs of all children in a non-discriminatory, non-religious, non-judgemental, non-proselytising, non-evangelising, non-biased way.

Feel free to use my responses as an aid in responding yourself, additional responses can be found at the AFA Forum on this thread, which can also be used to assist you in writing your own responses.

H/T to askegg from Godless Business for the opening paragraph and information about the NSCP and ideas for answers to the survey.

Now go and fill in the survey yourself.

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NSCP – Have Your Say

The Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is conducting a survey into the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). Please take a few minutes and have your say, you have until 18 March 2011. There’s 15 questions with about a third of them just ‘tick a box’, the rest require comments but you don’t need to write a lot if you don’t want to. As long as they get a lot of replies indicating school chaplains should have some sort of minimum qualification, and those qualifications being relevant to youth counselling rather than belief in imaginary beings then we have at least tried to ‘do our bit’ in the campaign against the NSCP program.

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What is it good for?

To paraphrase Edwin Starr’s song War:

NSCP, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing

Today @ChrysStevenson tweeted about an article on the sunshinecoast.com.au site titled: School Chaplains programme could end. Written by Liberal National Federal Member for Fisher Peter Slipper who warns that “a valued school programme could be at risk under Labor.” That “valued” school program? The totally wasteful, dangerous and delusional National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). Slipper warns that under a Labor government Gillard may cancel funding to the NSCP, he states that:

The Liberal National team has committed to keep funding part-time school chaplains for at least another three years.

As if that’s a good thing!

Apart from a few deluded religious people, and obviously the churches as they see this as a great, taxpayer funded, way to proselytise to a captive audience, I don’t accept that there really are that many people who think the NSCP is a good idea?

Slipper tries to argue

“Even the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described school chaplains as the ‘glue’ that holds school communities together.

Well Rudd would, he’s a deluded religious nut too.

Slipper’s final statement

“A lack of continued support for this project would simply be another Labor backflip.”

Should be worded:

“A lack of continued support for this project would simply be the right thing to do.”

The only possible reason I can see that some school principals and teachers see the NSCP as a good thing is that it provides government funding for some sort of counselling. The problem is that this funding is going to unqualified and unskilled religious ministers. What the government should do is provide the same amount of funding to fully qualified, trained, experienced, secular counsellors such as the Australian Psychological Society has recommended in their submission (pdf).

I posted a comment on Peter Slipper MP’s article, under my twitter OzAz name, and also sent the MP an email, this is a copy of that email:

Just read your piece on the mysunshinecoast.com.au site. I for one, and there are very many like me, would be more than happy to see the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) end. It is a total waste of taxpayers money and appalling that taxpayer funds are used to promote religion in public schools.

I have posted a comment on the site, I trust you will bother to read it and the other comments deploring the NSCP. In case you do not have the time to read all the comments, I posted this link: http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/APS-Submission-School-Chaplains-July2010.pdf I strongly suggest you read it, take your obvious religious bias out of the equation and decide if the APS has a valid point.

I’m not affiliated with the APS at all, and not sure if their proposal is the best, but I am sure it would be better than having chaplains performing counselling services, and at least it is a secular approach. Which is the way it should be in state schools.

Regards

May I suggest you also write a comment and or send an email to Peter Slipper peter.slipper.mp@aph.gov.au letting him know that a lot of people do NOT want the NSCP.

Cheers

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Ethics and Religious Education

The St James Centre has been trialling, successfully from what little I’ve heard, ethics classes in schools as an alternative to religious education (RE) classes. Why RE is being taught in PUBLIC schools is beyond me, but that’s not the main point. The point is the religious don’t want these ethics classes. Why? Heaven forbid (TIC) that children will be taught ethics, but that doesn’t seem to be the main problem the religious have with the program, as pointed out in this article on smh.com.au

THE Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has privately lobbied the Premier, Kristina Keneally, against the permanent introduction of secular ethics classes in public schools, saying they would jeopardise the future of religious education. (emphasis mine)

Or should that last word be indoctrination? 🙂

Why is the Archbishop worried? Probably because he knows that old adage “give me the child until he is seven and I’ll give you the man” and is worried he and his cronies won’t be able to continue to brainwash young children into specific religious dogmas.

I have no major problem with comparative religion being taught in schools in a social science type class. Where children are taught the histories and beliefs of all religions as concepts not as truths. Where they can be taught issues related to freedom of religion and freedom from religion, as well as the separation of church and state; among other religious issues that impact everyone on a secular nature.

from Jason via email:

The Christian rent-a-crowd have been busy inundating NSW MLC Penny Sharpe’s inbox, pleading with the government to kill the St James Centre NSW ethics classes so they won’t compete with scripture classes. (from Penny’s twitter timeline http://twitter.com/PennySharpemlc/status/12190784832 )

We need to let Penny know that there is support in the community for the ethics classes in NSW. Please consider sending her a personalised message of support on why you think this is an important initiative.

You can contact her by email: http://pennysharpe.com/contact

Or you can tweet her @PennySharpemlc (please use twitter hashtag #nswethics )

Or send her a message on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pennysharpemlc

Government at all levels needs to know that many people approve of the ethics classes being taught as an alternative to the RE classes. Senior clergy should not be allowed to sway the decision making process as they have a very obvious bias toward being allowed to indoctrinate young children into their specific religion. Please contact Penny and other parliamentarians (particularly your local MP) and let them know that you want alternatives to RE classes and that the ethics classes should be taught in all schools. Don’t let the religious rent-a-crowd hijack another excellent program, a program which can only be a good thing for children to learn,

Media coverage of the issue and related issues (thanks again to Jason and others)

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/find-these-kids-an-alternative-for-gods-sake-20100411-s0c7.html

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/keneally-allows-anglican-church-to-vet-content-of-ethics-lessons-20100412-s43m.html

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/bishop-enters-battle-against-secular-ethics-classes-20100413-s7pp.html

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/you-cant-teach-ethics-without-referring-to-christianity-20100409-rxai.html

http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/media-releases/ethics-classes-not-attack-religion

http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/churches-have-nothing-to-fear-from-clear-thinking-20100413-s7dj.html

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2010/s2871823.htm

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/how-the-west-was-lost-a-lack-of-faith-in-civilisation-20100411-s0ow.html

http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-diary/top-cop-leads-god-squad-20100411-s0wp.html

http://twitter.com/PennySharpemlc (Penny’s twitter timeline)

There are some amazing, and a little scary, stories from parents particularly in the comments on the first link.

I don’t have, and never had, children in school but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to discuss this issue and help stop the religious having undue influence over young and impressionable minds.

update 26 July 2010

Here are a few more links for all things SRE, RI (RE), NSCP and Ethics Classes .

http://www.highcourtchallenge.com/index.html

http://www.stopthenscp.org/religioninpolitics.htm

http://www.backintheact.com/index.html

http://campaign.specialethicseducation.com.au/index.php

http://parents4ethics.org/

http://www.australiansecularlobby.com/

Note that Queensland has slightly different laws when it comes to Religious Instruction (RI) (sometime wrongly labelled as ‘Religious Education’ (RE)) compared to NSW and it’s Special Religious Education (SRE). From what I gather the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) is above and beyond RI and SRE?

Religious Education – it should be taught by religious people in religious places (NOT public schools, or any other public or government institution) to people who want to learn it, not to people who have no choice (ie. children who are ‘forced’ to attend).

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There’s Hypocrites

Then there’s fucking hypocrites.

[Anyone following this blog recently may have noticed my ‘problem’ with hypocrisy. One day all may be revealed.]

Via Twitter I came across this interesting article:

Group targets school kids in atheism drive

A story (on a religious web site) lamenting that the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) in England are “targeting” children to inform them that religion may not provide the best ethical and moral guidelines.

In what is some of the most hypocritical statements (and I’ve heard plenty over the last 18 months), and some of the best cognitive dissonance I’ve seen (at least in the last few minutes) in a while, comes these pearls of wisdom:

“It is deeply worrying that they now want to use children to attack the Christian ethos of their schools.

“Many parents will also be anxious at the thought of militant atheists targeting their children.”

OMFG! Like the many and varied churches haven’t been using children to boost their incoherent, inconsistent and blatantly stupid beliefs for the last couple of centuries!! Like the churches (eg. Catholic, Anglican & Muslim) haven’t, not only setup their own schools to indoctrinate and brainwash the unfortunate  children, but have also managed to get RE into a lot of public schools. Like religion hasn’t used children and schools to attack atheism, evolution, and promote their particular narrow minded view of the world.

If it wasn’t for the stranglehold religions have on children, there probably wouldn’t be any religions. If religion was expressly forbidden to be indoctrinated or taught to anyone under the age of 18 how many people do you honestly think would believe in it?

Why do you think so many religions espouse having lots of children? Why do you think so many religions (particularly the Catholics) have problems with contraception?

Because if children weren’t indoctrinated from birth in the faith of their parents, if children were dutifully informed about religion and how it came about. If children were informed about the many and varied faiths; they probably wouldn’t become religious. Then the particular faith would wither and die a natural death.

As A. C. Grayling says [paraphrased]

Tell an averagely intelligent adult hitherto free of religious brainwashing that somewhere there is an invisible being, who was born of a virgin, performs miracles, that wants us to worship them or else they’ll burn in hell. Then ask them which of several religions, that fit this description, they wish to believe in, most likely they will say: none of them.

Hypocrisy at it’s best, religions have schools that promote a particular religion, but then have a problem with a group that wants to promote healthy positive, alternative, critical thinking.

Another, slightly less biased story is here.

What do you think? Are the religious being hypocrites? Do they have anything to be concerned about? Is the AHS on to a good thing?

What more could be done to promote critical thinking in schools?

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Paganism to be taught in school?

Why not, every other religion is, at least pagans don’t believe in an authoritarian deity. The United Pagan Church of Australia (UPCoA) wants to teach paganism in government schools in New South Wales (NSW). As the UPCoA state on their website:

In New South Wales, government schools are required to provide religious education of two types:

  • General Religious Education (GRE); and
  • Special Religious Education (SRE).

The UPCoA believe that they should be allowed to have the option for their children to receive Pagan based SRE. The UPCoA are currently putting a submission to government “to initiate the process of obtaining Ministerial endorsement to provide SRE.”

One of the interesting things on the UPCoA Pagan SRE in schools page, was the link to the NSW DoEaT page: Groups approved to provide Special Religious Education in NSW Government Schools. Wow, that’s a lot of different religions!

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