Bahai News - Teach all religions in school
Teach all religions in school
RELIGIOUS education in state schools has come under fire from two
academics who say children should learn about a wider range of faiths
instead of focusing on Christianity.
Paul Morris, professor of religious studies at Victoria
University, says a broader approach has become even more pressing
since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Threats against an Auckland Sikh temple in the belief it was a
Muslim place of worship "indicates the need for education about our
non-Christian neighbours. We live in a region with millions of
Muslims, and Pacific and indigenous religious traditions".
Morris says it's vital schools teach cultural history and religion
is part of that. But it is equally important that they look at
religion in general, rather than pushing a particular faith.
Canterbury University religious studies lecturer Michael Grimshaw
says the name "religious education" is a misnomer. "It's not
religious education, it's Christian education. We really need to
cover things like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam."
By law state schools must be secular but primary school boards of
trustees can close schools for up to an hour a week for religious
instruction and parents can withdraw their children.
The Churches Education Commission (CEC), an organisation
representing 14 denominations, runs religious education programmes in
about 60% of state primary schools.
CEC national co-ordinator Hilary Baskerville is aware of
criticisms that the programme, often known as "Bible in schools",
fails to recognise increasing cultural diversity. But she says there
is no reason why other faiths can't run classes and knows of Bahai
lessons running in a Kerikeri school.
Administration manager of the New Zealand Federation of Islamic
Associations Qaiser Iqbal says Muslim parents are happy for
Christianity classes to continue in state schools as long as their
children don't have to attend. "They would rather attend Sunday
classes at the mosque."
- Amanda Cropp
Losing religion: Focus C1
©Copyright 2001, Sunday Star-Times - Wellington
Page last updated/revised 122101
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