Special Religious Education

Sue Sneddon, in her opinion piece in Monday’s Herald, speaks of the Christian attributes of compassion and kindness taught in scripture. Does that compassion extend to those children whose parents have chosen not to expose their children to religious evangelisation in school, therefore requiring them to be segregated from their peers? Is the compassion she speaks of different to the compassion and kindness taught by class teachers in an inclusive and tolerant regular classroom environment?

Ms Sneddon quotes research showing that “Religious education is good for communities…it allows children to make better-informed decisions about religion.” There is a vast difference between education and instruction in religion and those of us that Peter Dolan calls the “anti-scripture brigade” feel very strongly that general religious education provided by the class teacher as an integral part of the curriculum is far preferable to the myopic and partisan view espoused by Christian volunteers.

As for her claim that prayer helps students to cope with adversity, I would argue that access to professional counsellors and mental health workers outweighs any benefits that children get from believing that Jesus is listening to and answering their prayers. Having children “explore faith and spirituality” in a public classroom setting is as inappropriate as exploring astrology or any other superstitious belief system.

Peter Rowney
Lemon Tree Passage

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