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Children in Australia's Secular Schools Told in Religious Study Class That They Are Going to Hell

Children in Australia's Secular Schools Told in Religious Study Class That They Are Going to Hell

chldren and mother walking along the beachChildren attending public school in Melbourne are being told that they will go to hell if they do not believe in God.  One parent's daughter was upset because she was told that her atheist mother would not go to heaven.

Parents say that the Education Department is discriminating against them because of the way that Christianity is being taught in the schools.

Evonne Paddison, CEO of Access Ministries, told ABC News that these types of things are not what they prescribe the teachers to teach and that the class is supposed to teach the basic morals and tenets of Christianity.

If parents want to withdraw their children from weekly religious instruction classes, they must write to their children's schools.  The children are then put in the back of the classroom or in a computer terminal or corridor during the religious instruction time and are given nothing meaningful to do. The children are basically set apart like they have misbehaved.  Parents say that it is discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and that it violates the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, which calls for freedom of religion.

Parents are suing, saying that if parents want their children to have religious education, then they should be going to religious schools and not secular schools.

Access Ministries provides 96% of the religious instruction classes in public schools in Victoria.  The class is taught at 70% of state schools.  Parents are required to opt their children out, rather than parents required to opt their children in to the religious classes.

Some school principals object to the religious education classes, with one saying that only 10% of parents in his school wanted the classes.  Access Ministries had threatened to make an example of him and his school and said it would go over he principal's head to make sure their religious program was in the school.

The families involved in the lawsuit hope that the issue will be resolved by next school year.  They say that the religious studies are creating an "us vs. them" environment at the school where children who opt-out of the religious class are treated as naughty children.  Parents who do not want their children indoctrinated believe that it would be more appropriate to have the Christian study class offered on an opt-in, not opt-out basis.  The Education Department has refused to negotiate, so the issue has now gone to the courts.

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • http://thejoyfulmystic.blogspot.com Sheri Lawson

    This is so insane. I will never understand how people can't simply look at the actions and stability of people to see if their beliefs are healthy rather than deciding that simply because someone doesn't believe in God is unhealthy.

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      I agree with the parents that if there is to be a religious class in school, it should be on the "opt in" basis. Here in the States, we're seeing all of these "bible as literature" classes being offered, but at least they are "opt-in."

      I have trouble with religion being injected in public schools, no matter what country it is.

      Deborah

  • colourmegone

    I think children should be taught about religion in public school but not just about Christianity. The class should cover all the major religions, their history and their tenets.

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      That would be a more appropriate "religious study" class and I think helpful to understand society/culture at large.

      Deborah

  • http://www.twitter.com/blamer Blamer ..

    This 1950s era SRI system is in URGENT need of an independent governmental review.

    Dixon? Garrett? Where are you?

    1.Who besides ACCESS still wants your Education Dept policy that prevents a "secular alternative" (which includes General Religious Education) during the SRI time slot?

    2.Who besides ACCESS still wants religion delivered by volunteers instead of qualified teachers?

    3.Who besides ACCESS still wants SRI to be opt-out instead of opt-in?

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/53170873/Issues-with-RE-in-state-schools

  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    That is just wrong. Children should not be forced to take religious classes. They should be taught as literature and it should be an elective course. Even if it is taught as a religion course, the students should learn a wide variety and it should still be an elective, not a requirement. No child should be singled out in such a manner, esp when they haven't done anything wrong.

  • Pingback: Religious education classes giving Australian public school children nightmares | God Discussion

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