Thursday, July 07, 2005

A victory for freedom of religion

The Board of Trustees of Seatoun School has finally come to its senses and reversed its ban on a lunchtime Bible-study group. It's a victory for freedom of religion and for sanity. While our school system is, and should be, secular, that does not prevent voluntary religious meetings outside of school hours. Its just a shame that it has taken Seatoun Schhol almost a year to recognise this.


wow. we actually agree on something.

on another topic:
Free AZ or give him a free trial?

Time to update the site methinks.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/07/2005 11:12:00 AM

I/S: Once again I must take issue with your (mis)understanding of the nature of freedom, secularism and the facts in this particular case.

1. According to this article in Hawkes Bay Today :
" A typical session, run by parents and community volunteers, would include a song, a Bible story, a craft activity and a discussion about a virtue or value."
So it is parents and adults/cult workers running these things not the kids themselves.

2. It is at lunchtime and is most definitely during school time despite any slippery arguments to the contrary.

3. These cult indoctrinations are going on inside the school grounds (from what I understand) that is obviously unacceptable during school hours.

4. They claim the students have "permission" from their parents. So what!? The Mongrel Mob could get permission from their parents for a group too - certainly doesn't make it right.

These things are not "volunatary". Get that straight. Children with cult parents who try to force it on their kids by organising it with adults is light years short of voluntary.

These sickly degenerates often worm their way into primary schools and make them "officially" close while they conduct half an hour of bible-bashing a week (as at my old primary school) and the students who did not want to attend had to go through the rigmarole of getting permission NOT to attend! At least that presumption has apparently reversed - but that is always just the beginning with these sorts of people.

We must keep our State schools secular. Adults coming in and pressuring students is the last thing anyone needs.

Posted by t selwyn : 7/07/2005 02:36:00 PM

Anon: as I've said before, while Zaoui is out on bail, there's still no prospect of a fair trial. After two years of litigation, the Zaoui case has come back to exactly where it started: the issue of open proceedings vs secret evidence. And the government has shown no sign of backing down on that score. Until they do, or until the Security Risk Certificate is revoked, the banner stays.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/07/2005 04:26:00 PM

Tim: A secular education system is one which does not attempt to dictate the religious choices of its students. The Education Act provides for this - but it also recognises that religion is an important part of many people's lives, and so allows voluntary religious education on school premises outside of school hours. While you may disagree, lunchtime is considered to be outside school hours for this purpose (in fact, class time can be as well, if the school technically "closes" for the duration).

There's absolutely no evidence of compulsion here. Approximately a third of parents have given written permission for their children to attend, but most of those children do not attend each week. What we have is exactly what the Act envisages: those who want to learn about religion can, and everybody else can get on with their lives.

I would not support any school operating an "opt-out' system or pressuring students to attend religious education - but that is not what is going on here.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/07/2005 04:26:00 PM

I/S: "A secular education system is one which does not attempt to dictate the religious choices of its students." But that is exactly what these schools are doing via these cult groups. The school endorses the parents' choice about religion, not the child's choice about religion in the first place. Secondly, the presence of the cult group itself, especially if it is the only one there, is most definitely an attempt to dictate a religious choice.

You admit the farce of "technically" closing the school to allow for religious instruction from outside groups as if that were a good or tolerable thing. You say that closing "for this purpose" (ie. indoctrination of religion) is appropriate and then also say it is consistent with being secular! You cannot have it both ways. Under your definition the school can "technically" close for prayers at any point during school hours: thirty seconds before every lesson, a couple of minutes in the middle of assembly etc. That is what you are justifying. Is that secular?

I am telling you from my experience that it is an insidious practice that flies in the face of any notion of secularism. You cannot have cult groups demanding and recieving rights to carry on indoctrination inside a school and inside school hours and then claim it is secular. It simply is not.

"those who want to learn about religion can, and everybody else can get on with their lives." No. Those parents who want to have a member of their cult group indoctrinate their children inside a State school can. It also operates as a base to lure in other children. (KidzKlub sounds symptomatically creepy of these sorts of operations.) These people are by nature prosyletisers, spreaders of the word. That is their agenda. It is their function, that is why they do it. Their purpose in enforcing religion at school is to ensure their cult has a base and that means more children. When the bell rings and the school magically "technically" closes and the cult guy comes in and starts the lesson who are the children who will leave? Especially if their friends are in the cult and are instructed by their parents to remain their knowing they have a "note from mum" saying they have to. That is how these things end up in practice - which is why they must never be allowed a toe hold.

These little bible thumping pied pipers rounding up their flock and encouraging others to join in is what they do. Schools esp. State schools should be a sanctuary from the cults and the pressures they put on children.

Posted by t selwyn : 7/07/2005 06:04:00 PM

Tim: Parents will inevitably attempt to influence their children's religious beliefs. Some would consider it to be their right as parents; I consider it to be mostly a waste of time. Unless they're physically dragging people into the room and tying them to the desk to be instructed, I don't think there's much of an aspect of parental compulsion in the school environment. And in this particular case, a large proportion of those with permission don't actually go, and there doesn't seem to be an environment of peer pressure discouraging people from not attending. Really, I don't see it as an issue.

While a school could technically "close" for 30 seconds at the begining of every lesson, I expect the Ministry of Education would come down on them like a ton of bricks.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/08/2005 12:11:00 AM

It was most certainly a victory for freedom of religion, but it's not a good day for sanity.

I'm of two minds about the subject; I like freedom of religion because I like freedom and no government should tell you what to think.

But for chrissakes, if I had to choose between coming home and finding out my kid was doing drugs at school and praying at school - I think I'd choose the drugs. They're less dangerous, less addictive...

Sorry if I'm not in a good mood but "regular old religion" seems closer and closer to "extremist violence" every time I'm forced to take a look at it.

Posted by Brian Boyko : 7/09/2005 08:16:00 PM