On his first point, that the Christian teaching programme in schools is concerned with moral principles and values and not religious doctrine, if the "spiritual" issue included in the example given - that "God can comfort us in our sorrows" - is not religious doctrine, what is it?

And I'd like to ask, what comfort could the Christian God give that human individuals can't give each other? I have a feeling the answer would open a big can of doctrinal worms.

On his second point, the high standards set for the teaching of the Christian programmes, one would expect no less for any New Zealand's classroom, but that's got nothing to do with my and others' opposition.

Having a Christian-based values programme in schools is repugnant to me for two reasons: first, that it implies these values are somehow special to Christianity, whereas they are in fact human values.

They are espoused as worthwhile for human life as much by people outside of religious affiliation as those within it.

Secondly, the teaching of a fairy story as fact in our education system can't be justified on any level. As far as I'm concerned it will remain a fairy story until the second coming, until born-again Jesus turns out the loaves and fishes in front of my very eyes, water into wine etc. I'd be willing to rethink things at that point.