By: Kate Stewart

It would appear that the old argument of religious education in public schools has flared up again.

One may have thought that making the classes optional would be sufficient to appease the critics, but apparently not.

It’s only an assumption on my part, but I imagine that these very same critics are all too happy to participate in the statutory holidays that come their way courtesy of the Christian calendar: holidays and celebrations like Christmas (excuse me using such a politically incorrect, exclusive and dirty word) and Easter (and I’m hoping it’s still okay to use that word, for now anyway).



That would be a double standard if ever I saw one. Criticise, belittle and denounce the parts of a faith system you don’t like, but celebrate the bits that give you something that benefit you on a personal level? It smacks of hypocrisy.

If the naysayers of the current system want to be taken seriously, they should lead by example – not just by refusing the religious education but by denouncing the associated public holidays and refusing to partake in and celebrate them.

They should just treat those days as ‘weekends’ and not have gifts to open and Christmas stockings to explore. Their kids should not be exposed to the forced trauma of a Christmas Parade, and hot cross buns and Easter eggs should never pass their lips.

No Christmas crackers, Christmas cards or Christmas cake … let’s see if their precious kids will thank them then.

The entire issue is a bit of slippery slope – if opponents are successful in their bid to end all Christian-based teaching in schools, does that not open the door for fundamentalist Christians to ask that their children are exempt from being taught the theory of evolution in science class?

And are Christians forever protesting and banging on about the mention of other faiths and cultures that may arise in, say, history or geography classes? And why is it that the Christians are almost always the only ones that are singled out for such scrutiny? Should they also have the right to request that any curriculum involving Māori gods be halted? Or are we okay with only picking on one faith and belief system in particular?

Once you start with one group, you have to ask who or what will be next and where will it all end.

As I said when writing about immigration a few weeks ago, you simply can’t have one rule for some and another for everyone else.

It’s all or nothing.

You either wipe all education of cultural gods, no matter where they come from and who they represent, or you allow – on a voluntary basis – the teachings of many.

And if one belief system is deemed mandatory learning in schools, then in fairness, they all must be.

Philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche believed that without things like the Ten Commandments, which have become almost a moral compass for acceptable and unacceptable human behaviour, we would have utter chaos and anarchy in society, and I tend to agree.

Sadly, there are many kids today being bought up with few or no values, often times their only hope of being introduced to them is in the school environment, and if the only thing they learnt was the Ten Commandments, would that really be so bad?

So to all the critics out there, I say either step up and practice what you preach – walk the walk, the whole walk and not just the smooth, flat easy bits – or shut the hell up and go back to your Christmas shopping.

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Source: Wanganui Chronicle

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