From the ABC news site 


Church accused of hijacking ethics classes debate

By Shane McLeod

Updated 4 hours 38 minutes ago

A teacher gives instructions to her pupils in a classroom

The Government's trial is proving popular and there are signs it may be expanded statewide. (AFP: Anne-Christine Pouloulat, file photo)

The argument about ethics classes in New South Wales schools is getting dirty, with allegations that powerful church forces are effectively branch stacking in an effort to thwart the plans.

It is not every day one of Australia's biggest Christian denominations is compared to a political party machine, but it is an accusation being levelled at the Anglican Church by NSW Greens MP John Kaye.

Mr Kaye says an Anglican Church organisation is trying to encourage its supporters to join Parents and Citizens associations in order to protect existing religious education classes.

He says the Church is using the same tactics Labor's right wing "is famous for".

"They're trying to stack the P and Cs with parents who will oppose the ethics trial. This is highly unethical behaviour in order to destroy the ethics trial," he said.

The ethics trial is a test run in government schools of what are known as ethics classes.

They are meant to provide an alternative for students whose parents would prefer their children not to take part in weekly religious education classes.

With the Government's trial proving popular and signs it may be expanded statewide, the church is mounting a counter campaign.

The Church's community organisation, Youthworks, has set up a website and is urging parents to get involved by joining their local P and C Association to campaign to keep religious education classes.

The head of the Anglican Education Commission, Bishop Glen Davies, says he has no problems with the website.

"I don't see anything wrong with encouraging people to be part of their local P and C," he said.

"In fact, we've been doing that for years. I've regularly done that. One of the aspects of being a Christian is actually being involved in society.

"I think at the moment it may well be the case - it would appear the debate is being hijacked in some local P and Cs."

The NSW Federation of P and C Associations is helping run the ethics trial.

President Di Giblin says the Church does not have anything to worry about and does not need to initiate a P and C takeover.

"The first part of [their] campaign's great because we encourage everybody to become part of a P and C because we need to be inclusive by nature and we value everyone else's opinion," she said.

"But I think to deny the young people who don't have a faith base to their values and beliefs and don't have the opportunity to examine them in that period of time - I think that is very unfair and it is very discriminatory in its manner.

"I think we need to look at public schools as being inclusive and ensuring that every child has the same opportunities, and by orchestrating against an ethics-based program for those kids who opt out of scripture is being discriminatory and unfair."

Making a stand

But Bishop Davies says the Church is not advocating the parents overthrow their school committees and refuse to host ethics classes.

He says parents who support religious education should make sure their voices are heard.

"Seventy-four per cent of the population, according to the ABS, have some form of religious faith," he said.

"Therefore the way in which the ethics proposal has been put forward ... I know for example there's been little consultation.

"In one P and C that I'm aware of there was a debate heard and the question was asked would they consult the SRE teachers with regard [to] the ethics trial and they said they wouldn't.

"That's an appalling breach of justice and fair play.

"People think ethical instruction - as if the ethics trial is about ethical instruction. It's not about ethical instruction at all.

"It's not about distinguishing between right and wrong. It's more about ethical inquiry or metaethics.

"It's a philosophy of ethics, and if you've seen clips of children in classes, they're trying to express their point of view and they're welcome to their point of view, but there is no education of right and wrong.

"It's just what I think in my situation."

Trial classes have been held in 10 schools across the state throughout the current school term, which ends in a fortnight.

The Education Department will then prepare a report and consider whether the program should be expanded.

So far parents' groups are continuing to support the Government trial.

Views: 178

Replies to This Discussion

Small wonder these people do not what ethics taught in schools !!!!!
Read the bible and it will come as no surprise :D
I read the bible

I went to bible classes

That was one of the main reasons I became an atheist ;-)
I watched the debate on SBS's Insight and it seemed they just didn't like the idea of kids asking questions for themselves, for who knew where that would lead them!

& even though the clergyman didn't say as such, I read between the lines that they think that secular or atheist values or any values that didn't come from 'God' have no foundation to rest apon.
Fuck the Christians and their backwards views. I would even go so far as to question whether such parents are fit to be raising children in the first place. Schools are supposed to be about education so religion should get the fuck out.

It's either a school or a bullshit factory not both.
It even gets worse because having scripture in school time means the kids talk about it in the playground afterwards. It's hard enough answering your child's questions about life and death without the luxury of being able to pretend there is a happy clappy heaven for everyone when they die. It's worse when your child, struggling with the rather depressing knowledge that when people die they are done, then comes home from school and, in confusion, says "but Jane's grandmother is dead and Jane says she is in heaven now and is happy and watching over her, and when it rains it's her grandmother saying "I Love You" to her". So, there is life after death and you even get to control the weather. Excellent.

Then you have the conversation about how Jane's parents believe different things and that they want Jane to believe them too, and so it's important not to tell Jane that there is no heaven.....and you get the question of "so we believe this and they believe something different, but which one is true (5 year old daughter VERY confused by now)...and so you start to tell her things you have already started to talk to her about...about science and how much we know now, and about how the other beliefs are based on old stories back when people didn't know how the world worked...but you know that ideally she would just like you to tell her that yes, after we die we get to live happily everafter and control the weather.

I'm no longer an atheist, I am officially an anti-theist. This stuff is seriously annoying me now.
That is a great reason why comparative religious classes should be taught in all schools so that children become aware that not everyone has the same beliefs as they do. At the same time it would give children a message that everyone has the right to their views and opinions.

Could you imagine the howls of protest if the education system told children that both religion and atheism were equal and valid belief systems and it was up to the individual to decide what they believed in !!!
I would bet good money that if there was a comparative religion class poised to be launched then the church would, in response, launch a mega letter-writing campaign insisting that atheism not be included as it is not a "religion".
Comparative belief systems would probable be a better term rather than "Religion"


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