A life size Noah’s Ark, built in the Netherlands and now operating as a tourist attraction. (IMAGE: bert knottenbeld, Flickr, courtesy New Matilda)
Just over a month since the kids went back to school, and it’s the easily distracted adults having conniptions over the curriculum. Fact-resistant back of the class blowhards, such as George Christensen, demand a parliamentary enquiry into the Safe Schools anti-bullying program.
Outrage has been manufactured out of the program’s allegedly ideological agenda – that is, ideas and beliefs which are contested. The schoolyard is once again the battleground of our ongoing culture war.
Meanwhile religious instruction (RI) classes commenced again. These involve faith-based groups presenting the ideas and beliefs of their religion. That these involve contested ideas and beliefs is demonstrable by the large numbers of parents opting out their children.
If there’s a parliamentary enquiry into Safe Schools, by the same irrevocable logic, there must be one into religious instruction.
It’s undesirable to divide classes so that some receive RI and some do other non-curricular activities. Consider the absurdity of an “overcrowded” curriculum containing countless hours of squandered class time due to contested beliefs.
Given religious instruction isn’t acceptable to all, we should question what its benefits are.
According to the Queensland Government policy statement, RI encourages “students to develop as a whole person, in particular, in beliefs, values and attitudes”.
Notwithstanding the idiotic and discriminatory claim that we must entertain religious ideas to be “whole” persons, the very next statement is startlingly at odds with it: “State schools respect the background and beliefs of all students and staff by not promoting, or being perceived as promoting, any particular set of beliefs in preference to another”.
Well may we wonder what theological gymnastics are employed to help students develop beliefs, without promoting any beliefs.
How many parents know what their child is taught in RI? Despite the requirement to provide parents with detailed information, most schools leave parents in the dark.
Most are Christian classes using teaching materials developed by evangelical Christian groups, promoting a “sin and salvation” message.
Many students will have no awareness that they stand guilty before God… They will probably have little understanding of just how seriously God takes sin and how greatly they, personally, have offended him.
I’ve no doubt many parents, Christians included, would have serious reservations about telling their children they’ve “personally” offended God.
It may be helpful to refer them to the story of Noah and how seriously God dealt with the sinfulness of the world then.
Students are encouraged to learn that the Bible is God’s word: that it is historically reliable and still relevant today.
Note the befuddling of beliefs and facts happening before our children’s eyes.
Is the preposterous story of Noah’s Ark “historically reliable”? Paraphrasing biologist Richard Dawkins: how did those marsupials hop from Mt. Ararat en masse, and settle exclusively in Australia leaving no trace anywhere else?