Help! – Bible Class in Primary/Intermediate Schools

Aug 8, 2013


Discussion by: BornAfterTV

I live in New Zealand and this country is by and large secular but we have our dose of faith cancer here too. While the cancer tends to be benign it has recently flared up and I was hoping to generate some ideas as to how to treat the disease.

In the paper today (link below) it was found that many Intermediate schools have Bible (Christian) lessons and that many schools do not know the provider of the lessons or what the content is. The lessons are taught by way of a skirting around the law of not teaching religion in schools in that schools are able to "close" for half an hour during school hours and during this time Bible class can take place.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10906245

Politicians have no interest in talking about this subject so I don't hold my breath for a legal fix to the loop hole described above and there seems to be very little in the way of public awareness techniques to get this subject on the agenda and talked about more.

I don't suppose Richard that you have any plans to come and speak in New Zealand anytime soon? failing that publicity does anyone else have any ideas on how we can get these encroachments on the public radar and talked about more?

 

16 comments on “Help! – Bible Class in Primary/Intermediate Schools

  • 1
    SaganTheCat says:

    not being from NZ I can’t advise but I’m interested to know what this rule of closing for half an hour is about? for what purpose is this? does holding bible classes violate the purpose or can you suggest giving up some of these slots to other activities? i think having someone give kids a talk on how to get by in this modern world, you know, how to spot fakes and liars and other critical thinking tools.

    the other quesion is are these lessons mandatory? in other words do the students have to attend? if not are staff available to look after them? (if not then that effectively means they are having bible classes forced on them). if they are entirley voluntary, i’d be very suspicious of any child who chose to miss a half hours kickabout to listen to someone whine on about the bible.

    I would write to my MP regardless of if you think they’d do anything or not, just to get some sort of answer. If it’s solely christian then it violates freedom of religion, if not you need to get someone in there to spread the word of the FSM



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  • Well think about it logically. Just because the school has Bible classes taught on campus doesn’t mean that the school is representing it’s beliefs in the classes.

    Any person who is off the clock is aloud to do what ever they want. IE: If you are paid to receive money from people at a toll booth and you are caught giving money to a person who didn’t pay you, you will be fired. Especially if you give out money that does not belong to you. However if you are on your break and on location at the toll booth and some one comes up to you and you are off the clock and you give then some of your money, nobody can fire you.

    You can also do whatever you want while on the clock however a logical person will not because they understand the limitations of the duties and understand the need for an income.

    You then would be fighting a pretty seemingly useless fight. So… pick your battles. If somebody wanted to read there bible, tora, or Qur’an in a government funded park but they are not Representing the Gov. at the time nobody can say a word to them, with rational thinking.

    SO, with the school closed for a half hour students and teachers are aloud to do what ever they please because they are not representing the school for that half hour.



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  • 3
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #2 by Zieber:

    Well think about it logically. Just because the school has Bible classes taught on campus doesn’t mean that the school is representing it’s beliefs in the classes.

    SO, with the school closed for a half hour students and teachers are aloud to do what ever they please because they are not representing the school for that half hour.

    This s imply wrong. They are still using a publicly financed building, and if the teachers are being paid that adds to their responsibility to adhere to legal requirements. Schools can rent out rooms to other organisations, but that is not the same as using children as a captive audience.

    There is also the question of the credentials and motivations of the “providers”. If religions are to be studied in public schools, (as in the UK) they should be studied without biases toward any particular religion or denomination.



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  • 4
    refuteist says:

    Surely if the school is “closed” at any time then the responsibility for the children reverts immediately to the parents, as at the end of the normal school day? If so those who wish to stop their children from being indoctrinated surely have the right to take the children away for the duration of the closure. If this is refused then the children are in effect being held “hostage”.
    If you are a parent and could find others who are like minded then you could disrupt this activity at source.



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  • 5
    bluebird says:

    Rationalist David Hines conducted the survey which revealed the stealth operation. ‘Keep religion out of school (NZ)’ has a facebook page.

    I remember reading a RD.net article about a father who found his daughter “in the naughty corner, on the floor”, after being excused from bible study. I was furious – gratifying to see him posting comments on the fb page.



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  • 6
    polishd007 says:

    wow it is my belief that your place of residency could really use some religion. If your able to draw a likeness to cancer in your mind, you may want to hit the nearest clinic to be checked out. This site i thought was here to offer intelligent life force, and a unity for common ground discussions, not some one sided cast off of people offending others beliefs. If you don’t want to learn about God that is most definitely understandable, but you shouldn’t stand between others chance of discovery that in which you are too ignorant to consider. To each their own, live and let live. Let those words manifest in your closed mind.



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  • 7
    BornAfterTV says:

    In reply to #1 by SaganTheCat:

    not being from NZ I can’t advise but I’m interested to know what this rule of closing for half an hour is about? for what purpose is this? does holding bible classes violate the purpose or can you suggest giving up some of these slots to other activities? i think having someone give kids a talk on h…

    The closing for half an hour Idea spawned from a law being passed to say that no religious instruction was to be conducted by public schools. Being taught about religions, belief systems, legend, etc is perfectly OK and something that I would encourage but what caused the idea of “closed” to be introduced was a way of skirting that law to teach just the christian bible. The government not willing to have the hard conversations allowed school boards to decide if they wanted to close and “rent” the school grounds for bible instruction.

    It’s worth noting that this is not part of the national curriculum but an issue of school boards using the the school grounds to push one religion by out-sourcing this teaching to another organization and turning the other way so much so that many schools don’t even know who the providers are of these classes or what the content is.

    Children can opt out as can their parents on their behalf however I think it is important to acknowledge that this closure is in the middle of the day during the school week, so much so that now schools are being forced to give children an alternative rather than just have them sit in another room(not so long ago another article in the same paper ran about a child who was made to sit in the corner because she opted out, an extreme I suspect but something that wouldn’t have happened should the situation not have been present in the very first place).

    As for freedom of religion, I don’t believe NZ has equivalent laws to ban or enforce these concepts, we have God mentioned in our national anthem and in various occasions in parliament/court etc. By and large though these things are hangovers from the past, most people in NZ don’t believe there is a God according to recent surveys.



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  • 8
    BornAfterTV says:

    In reply to #2 by Zieber:

    Well think about it logically. Just because the school has Bible classes taught on campus doesn’t mean that the school is representing it’s beliefs in the classes.

    Any person who is off the clock is aloud to do what ever they want. IE: If you are paid to receive money from people at a toll booth an…

    There is no way in earth that I’m going to accept that.

    First and foremost if we just look at you’re example of the tollbooth operator, if they were sitting having their lunch and someone gave them money and they took it then they should be fired. People don’t just randomly give out money to tollbooth operators this employee was clearly commiting fraud, stealing money from their employer and misleading an innocent person to believing that the payment was genuine.

    Interestingly enough this is exactly the problem with the actual case at hand in that these are secular schools that have student who are not yet in a position to make these hard calls on their own but instead place reliance on the wisdom of their educators to steer them in a positive direction. The fact that school boards punch out their time clocks for half an hour will be completely lost on primary school kids and amounts fraud.



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  • 9
    BornAfterTV says:

    In reply to #5 by bluebird:

    Rationalist David Hines conducted the survey which revealed the stealth operation. ‘Keep religion out of school (NZ)’ has a facebook page.

    I remember reading a RD.net article about a father who found his daughter “in the naughty corner, on the floor”, after being excused from bible study. I was f…

    I didn’t even know there was such a rationalist/humanist website, nice link, will have to get involved. I remember the original article in the paper, the issue has basically come back to life after a journalist uncovered that 1 in 3 schools had these classes and about half of all these schools that had them didn’t even know who provided the lessons or what the content of them was.



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  • 10
    BornAfterTV says:

    In reply to #4 by refuteist:

    Surely if the school is “closed” at any time then the responsibility for the children reverts immediately to the parents, as at the end of the normal school day? If so those who wish to stop their children from being indoctrinated surely have the right to take the children away for the duration of t…

    Agreed from the point of view of stopping your own children and children of like-minded parents from having to attend, but this doesn’t address the fact that schools are being allowed to partially close in the middle of the day on a school week to waste time which could be better spent educating everyone at school nor does it respect the values and culture of people that don’t come from a christian background nor does it acknowledge that as schools are technically closed then there nothing to inform parents about.

    I think it’s important to note that this is not the school renting out the hall to a church after school has finished or over the weekend. This is a lesson in the middle of the school day.



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  • 11
    ShadowMind says:

    It seems things have gone backwards. RI dried up before I finished primary school (Dunedin, late ’80s), and didn’t happen through the rest of my schooling.

    2 Points:

    1. Make sure kids know that they don’t have to be in class during the religious crap, and get them to tell the rest of the class the same thing. If the whole class walks out to play in the sunshine (which, as the school is “closed”, they are entitled to do), the religious crap leaders might get the hint.
    2. If the government don’t seem to care, maybe school trustees, PTAs, or the local newspapers need to be notified. Once enough people (that care) know it’s happening and borderline-illegal, things will hopefully start to change. Unfortunately, most people here in NZ will be “meh…”, and not see the problem for what it is.



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  • First off it is worth noting that NZ does not have a formal written constitution. So while it would be nice to have it clearly stated somewhere that we have church-state separation this is not the case.

    The next point of note is that the provision for religious instruction is included in the 1964 Education Act. This Act has all but been repealed apart from a small number of sections, including the religious stuff and some other stuff about when schools must be open. The reason why the religious stuff hasn’t been repealed is one of politics. No politician wanted to deal with it at the time and no one wants to deal with it now. This is not to say, however, that it is not an issue for others within the education sector.

    The Act states that a school’s board can close any class or classes at the school, or the school as a whole, for any period not exceeding 60 minutes in any week or 20 hours in any school year. They can do this for the purposes of religious instruction given by voluntary instructors approved by the school’s board and of religious observances conducted in a manner approved by the school’s board or for either of those purposes; and the school buildings may be used for those purposes or for either of them.

    As you will note, it states religious instruction and observance. This is not a religious studies class, its preaching plain and simple. Kids can opt out (and parents can opt their kids out) and teachers can opt in to be included for up to 30 minutes a week.

    My advice to anyone who wants to see this gone is to email the Education Minister and tell them its redundant and pointless. Then get a friend to email them and get a friend of their friend to email. If a Minister can see that a large contingent of people want this gone then they may be inclined to do something about it. A facebook page may be helpful to spread the word but for results those who can actually make the change need to know how people feel.



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  • 13
    downshifter says:

    In reply to #4 by refuteist:

    Surely if the school is “closed” at any time then the responsibility for the children reverts immediately to the parents, as at the end of the normal school day? If so those who wish to stop their children from being indoctrinated surely have the right to take the children away for the duration of t…

    It is unrealistic to think that parents can get time out in the middle of their work day, every day, to go over to the school, babysit their child for 30 minutes, then go back to work.



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  • 14
    Lloydy1 says:

    I am a secondary public school teacher in NSW, Australia. In NSW, the Department of Education’s policy is that the school must give local priests/pastors/parishioners access to the students for up to one hour per week. Students have to go unless their parents contact the school and opt out. In this time, these people can preach whatever bullshit they like to young minds. Just recently I had to counsel a number of upset students after they were told they would be going to hell because they were born out of wedlock or their parents were divorced. I find it disgraceful that the religious are allowed access to children in public schools to preach their bigotry and hatred. We have a long way to go before we can eradicate the poison of religion.



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  • As a child growing up in Australia in the 1960s I used Bible Classes as an opportunity to 1) draw 2) catch up on homework 3) an opportunity to write derogatory things about the obvious charlatan at the front of the class. I imagine children nowadays are no less skeptical, and with mobile phones are much more able to self entertain and distract themselves.
    It’s all over for religions – they can only stay relevant by continually softening their dogma to accommodate the modern secular world. Give it another few decades and the world’s ‘Great Religions’ will be hardly distinguishable from social clubs. It seems that repeatedly using the brain to do reasoning tasks diminishes the hold of superstition on the thinking process.



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  • 16
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #14 by Lloydy1:

    Just recently I had to counsel a number of upset students after they were told they would be going to hell because they were born out of wedlock or their parents were divorced. I find it disgraceful that the religious are allowed access to children in public schools to preach their bigotry and hatred.

    You could point them in the direction of the Bible-history the preachers do not teach – such a the origins of the Hewbrew god:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah – Between the 10th century BC and the beginning of their exile in 586 polytheism was normal throughout Israel;[9] it was only after the exile that worship of Yahweh alone became established, and possibly only as late as the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BC) that monotheism became universal among Jews.[10][11] Some biblical scholars believe that Asherah at one time was worshiped as the consort of Yahweh, the national God of Israel.[10] There are references to the worship of numerous Gods throughout Kings, Solomon builds temples to many Gods during his reign and Josiah is reported as cutting down the statues of Asherah in the temple Solomon built for Yahweh.

    http://www.biblicalheritage.org/bible%20studies/canaan-gods.htm The Canaanite mother of all the gods representing life giving and the primeval sea (the deep). She was the principle goddess of the coastal cities of Sidon and Tyre. In the Ugarit tablets ASHERAH is spelled “atrt” which is translated into English as ATHIRAT. Since ASHERAH is the consort of the creator God EL she derives from the Sumerian goddess NAMMU, the consort of the Sumerian creator god AN, and seems to be the equivelent of the Babylonian goddess of the deep, MUMMU-TIAMAT, who also has life forming ability. When only the chaotic sea (the deep) is meant ASHERAH is refered as ASHERAH-OF-THE-SEA. Her sons with EL (described as a pride of lions) are WAVES, DEATH, and RABBIM (meaning “the many” so it may represent the many droplets of a stormy sea mist.)

    ASHERAH, besides being carved in a female likeness was also symbolized by a pole. The Greek author, Philo of Byblos, states that the Phoenicians (the Greek name for Canaanites) “consecrated pillars and staves after their names” (the names of gods) (in Eusebius, Praep. Evang. 1.10.11)

    You could also make sure there are copies of “The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True” in the science section of the school library.



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