Anti-God Police over-reach in state schools - call to action
Education Minister Kate Jones has given into the Anti-God Police by endorsing a radical policy to ban school children from talking about their faith at State schools.
What country are we living in? It's hard to believe they would even try this on but obviously they're hoping people won't speak up as the kids aren't allowed to. We must allow the kids to have a voice without this discrimination.
This new policy doesn't protect children, it makes them vulnerable to being punished by the school for simple acts of talking about their faith. The scope of the ban, under the guise of discouraging evangelizing, can cover children taking Bibles to school, giving Christmas cards, or talking with other children about what they have learned in RI classes.
I need your help to tell the Premier and Education Minister that this policy needs to be ditched so children can talk about their faith in the playground. Please write to Education Minister Kate Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org, the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at email@example.com and copy me in at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite the Minister's denials, this is a policy change which has come about as a result of a review of Religious Instruction Curricula. This State Labor government adopted the review’s recommendations and then asked principals to implement them, including recommendations which "actively discourage" children from "evangelising" in the playground.
(See report: http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/school-operations/docs/report-godspace-materials.pdf Pages 5 & 6).
This anti-God policy is so wide and vague it leaves children of different faiths vulnerable to accusations of breaching State Education policy for simply talking about their beliefs.
I've already talked to parents whose children have been affected but who feel vulnerable to speak up in their school community for fear of their child being singled out. One parent is pulling her children out of the State school system as a result.
I've asked Minister Kate Jones to produce some examples of what is and isn't allowed in the playground but the text of their current policy (and previous departmental examples mentioned above) is an extreme over-reach and puts a lot of power in the hands of a few to control the faith-life of children.
I'm still waiting for her response to my letter of July 6 asking for her to outline these examples. Her previous response of July 3 defended the new policy, and did not deny that it stretched to the playground restriction.
Mark Fowler, a Brisbane lawyer with an interest in freedom of speech and religion issues, says that in the media release on Religious Instruction (RI) Minister Kate Jones states: "No one is telling a child what they can and can't say in the playground". As a factual proposition, this simply cannot be reconciled with the following statement made in the reviews: “The Department expects schools to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in RI are evangelising to students who do not participate in their RI class, given this could adversely affect the school's ability to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for all students.”
The media release also claims that “There has been no change to the religious instruction policy in state schooling.”
“Whether a Departmental Review document satisfies the technical definition of a policy statement is irrelevant. The document amounts to a statement to the world at large (which includes principals, teachers, parents and children) of the Department's view of the law and how it will enforce that law. Notwithstanding the Minister's comments, the reviews represent a radical change in the Department's approach to the place of religious faith within our schools."