Fight to Retain Scripture Classes in Schools

‘So how many of you are going over to the Ethics Class?’ I asked six of my Year 5 scripture children after Easter Assembly last term.

“Oh! What is the Ethics class?!”

“*Ethan is going to do it..”  *(name’s changed)

“Not me!”

“We both are, Miss..” answered two other girls.

From my scripture class of twenty-five Year 5 children, I spoke only to six. As you can see, I’m already losing 3 scripture children to the trial of the Ethics Classes.  I wonder how many children will be left in my class next Wednesday?

The trial Ethics Classes start next week in 10 primary schools when school resumes. The ABC TV station has asked permission to film this course inside classrooms. There have been lots of heated media debates/editorials in major papers like the Sydney Morning Herald throughout the course of this week. See http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/churches-have-nothing-to-fear-from-clear-thinking-20100413-s7dj.html

PRAY NOW to Save Scripture:

‘Why do the nations conspire and the people plot in vain?…The One enthroned in heaven laughs;… and scoffs at them.’ – Psalm 2

I God will over-rule all satan’s plans & schemes. This will be the start of a long battle.

I Christians to be stirred up to urgently share the Gospel in schools & elsewhere before the doors are closed.

I We will communicate articulately to all opposition/negativity portrayed in the media/ pro-ethics groups in a godly, rational, & loving way.

I Christian lawyers to come forward to support us by clearly defending & confirming legislation & government departmental policies.

I Christians of every denomination to stand up & make our voice heard as a united front.

I Christian parents to actively show support by writing/speaking out, be an active member of the Parents & Citizenship Association, & by lovingly communicating the value of scripture classes to un-churched parents.

I Scripture teachers to raise our bar of standard & professionalism in our teaching.

ACT NOW to Save Scripture:

For those of you who want to help take positive actions to support scripture in schools from this threat, the Australian Christian Lobby has launched an online campaign call ‘Save our Scripture’at:

http://www.makeastand.org.au/campaign/index.stw?campaign_id=32where

Please go to this website and see how you can take some practical steps to support us. THANKS!

Some of us might still wonder, what’s all the fuss about the Ethics Classes? ‘Isn’t it better that non-scripture children learn ‘something’ which is better than nothing?’

Here’s my 7 points of personal reflections on this:

1) I totally affirm that parents have every right to choose whether their children attend scripture or non-scripture.

2) The word ‘ethics’ itself sounds right and moral. But a closer look of the teaching content reveals children are taught in a context where there is no absolute right or wrong. See the following example from the session titled ‘Lying’:

“In this session they are asked to make relative judgments. They will be dealing with a range of cases in which people have told a lie and they are asked to judge to what extent that is acceptable as well as to figure out why one lie is either more acceptable or less acceptable than another.”

I wonder how many parents will be happy that their child can justify ‘lying’ as acceptable in one context and not the other. This Ethics Class should be rightly called ‘Atheistic/Secular’ Ethics Class’.

3) For children who do not attend Scripture, it is the school’s administrative responsibility to make sure they are adequately supervised and not ‘left to their own devices’, or ‘twiddling their thumbs’ as some claimed. Speaking to a primary school teacher, I am told children in primary schools today are already loaded with a packed curriculum with plenty of school work. For non-scripture children, 30 minutes of free time while others have Scripture can be a welcome change.

4) In instances where non-scripture children are not adequately supervised, it is not Scripture classes

(or Special Religious Education- SRE) that marginalized non-scripture children, it is unfortunately the lack of resources within schools’ administration to provide adequate care. See Box below paragraph 11.

5) Scripture teachers like myself are fully supportive of public schools and parents’ right of choice. What makes me personally ‘indignant’ is that the NSW Government clearly breached its own Dept. of Education policy guidelines by allowing ethics classes to be held at the same time as Scripture classes. See Box below paragraph 11.

Extractions from the NSW Dept. of Education own policy guidelines paragraph 3 and in particular paragraph 11 for the “Implementation of Special Religious Education” (or SRE, commonly known as ‘Scripture classes’):

A.     Responsibilities of schools

3.      Schools are to support SRE by ensuring that no formal lessons or scheduled school activities occur during time set aside for SRE. Such activities may create conflict of choice for some parents and for some students attending SRE.

11. Schools are to provide appropriate care and supervision at school for students not attending SRE. This may involve students in other activities such as completing homework, reading and private study. These activities should neither compete with SRE nor be alternative lessons in the subjects within the curriculum or other areas, such as, ethics, values, civics or general religious education. When insufficient teachers or accommodation are available, the school’s policy on minimal supervision will operate.

Allowing Ethics Classes clearly breached this policy ‘activities should neither compete with SRE nor be alternative lessons in the subjects within the curriculum or other areas, such as, ethics, values etc.

Source: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/policies/religion/implement/implement/index.htm

6) The Ethics Classes were initially meant to be offered to only non-scripture children. Quoting Dr. Simon Longstaff of the St James Ethics Centre ( the secular organisation (despite its name) who came up with the ethics course) :

“Ethics classes will only be available to students whose parents have chosen for them not to attend a class of SRE. That is, the pool of potential participants will be limited to those who would otherwise be spending time ‘twiddling their thumbs”.

But this is not true as the classes are now offered to ALL children and consequently we are losing enrolled Scripture children to the Ethics course as I have shown.

7) If our scripture classes keep on reducing in sizes down the years, there will be a real possibility that scripture classes will eventually ceased to exist despite the Education Act 1990 Section 32, where there is a legislative requirement that “In every government school, time is to be allowed for the religious education of children of any religious persuasion”.  We have already seen how legislation can be so easily breached.

I hope the personal reflections above help explain what is in my heart & the grave concern shared by all who wants to see the continuation of the ‘ripe’ & ‘plentiful harvest’ that is in Scripture ministry. A great thank you to those of you who have faithfully prayed, signed petitions and publicly shown support by writing in to the papers. Praising God for His Sovereignty & in His Confidence we can rest. Love & Blessings to you, PP Pauline Pang
Children of the World
Campus Crusade for Christ Australia
02 9585 2029    (h)
61 414 580 986 (m)
Connecting Everyone to Someone who truly Follows Jesus

LATEST PRESS RELEASE

See below today’s Sydney Morning Herald has the latest
development
: Complaints put brakes on ethics class trial

April 17, 2010

HEATH GILMORE EDUCATION

VERITY FIRTH is refusing to guarantee a 10-week trial for secular ethics classes will start next week in state primary schools as expected, after a flurry of complaints from religious leaders. See http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/complaints-put-brakes-on-ethics-class-trial-20100416-skfy.html

I am not putting too much hope on newspaper headlines or Government assurances. Even if it is true we need to keep on battling on our knees. This could be only Round 1 of the many to come!

Email  from Pauline Pang

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