Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Religion in schools

I've been sent an article from the Kapi-Mana News (a local rag serving Tawa and Porirua), about a Christian group at Tawa College which conducts services during lunchtimes in the school hall. This is presumably the sort of thing people were afraid the Ministry of Education's now-abandoned guidelines on secular education would have banned - after all, if you supposedly can't teach history, then you obviously can't have a full-on religious service either. Except that, like Seatoun School's "KidsKlub", it would fall entirely within the guidelines. It's opt-in, run outside normal school hours, and (as a bonus) completely student-led, so there's no implication that its anything to do with the school at all. I'd go even further and say that attempts by schools to ban such groups violate the right to manifestation of religion and belief affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act.

The proposed guidelines would have barred schools from using their authority to ram religion down student's throats. They would not have barred students from voluntarily partcipating in religious services and teaching. And I don't think that's anything that anyone should feel threatened by.