This week in Australia, in my current state of residence New South Wales, our government is taking the entire state 3 steps backwards for the benefit of their christian beliefs. Over the past 2-3 years many problems with state indoctrination classes – sorry, Special Religions Instruction or SRE – have been addressed, not all, but many. Though this situation is far from perfect and change has not happened without considerable fighting and legal action, the implementation of things like opt-in rather than the old everyone-goes-until-the-parents-find-out system and the inclusion of secular ethics as an alternative were great improvements on the old system.

So now we have it, the Christian lobby couldn’t stand to loose fee tax funds when parents were given a choice and didn’t take it. This backwards step should not have come as a shock, the greatest shock should be that with so much criminal action and fraud in the party last term, with so many MPs resigning or on charges, this lot still got re-elected for another term. Now they have another term our very christian and not shy about his religion premier and his chief of staff who believes he is gods own chief of staff are showing their true colours. With the government over riding the education department and reinstating SRE books banned for not meeting the standards required by the department it was clear that secularism would be outside their limited abilities. Then things got worse when to the shame of our state, nay country, the senates balance of power was given to Fred Nile, one of Australia’s longest lasting preacher bigots and state MPs (shame NSW, shame).

Oddly enough, everywhere I have lived in Australia NSW has been looked at as a forward thinking and progressive state. With the current trend I find I may as well have stayed in Queensland and wished for the clock to go back 20 years.

“Why all the song and dance”” you say. The state government look set to try and hide any secular option and possibly revert to a new form of opt-out system for SRE in which as a parent you don’t even get all of the options presented until you opted-out of all of the religious offerings first. As it is presented on the ABC’s website “Current enrolment forms give parents a clear option for picking ethics classes as an alternative to Special Religious Education (SRE) for their child, but under the changes being considered by the Government, parents would only be asked what religion their child is”.

This effectively means all kids will get religious instruction unless their parents are wise to the loophole of not choosing a religion. I am not sure if they can offer every denomination their own instructor as Fred Nile has suggested be done. Is it possibly the instructors or schools will decide what they believe is best given to represent the various belief and non-belief options that will be registered. I have no doubt that christian SRE instructors believe they can offer a secular religious instruction to atheist kids if they need to and if the tax money starts rolling again. I’m sure jesus was secular and god loves us all, even atheist kid who will burn in hell. Maybe they can even teach the hindi and muslim kids, who will also burn in hell.

Secular Ethics already had enough hoops to jump through to even get in to the offering. Fred Nile and his ilk had their hats in the ring when ethics classes were established. They and government made a deal that suited them best when forced to offer a secular option, one that made it so difficult to get an ethics class up and running that I myself have been registered to be overseer or instructor in my region for 3 years without it happening. Finding a second person willing to undertake the hours of “volunteer” work and reporting required was not something that proved easy. With the overseer requirement it was also as if they expected us to all suddenly turn into priests and put children at risk, even the teacher in the room wasn’t going to be enough. What this meant was that ethics was harder to get off the ground than the well funded and taxpayer assisted religious options available. As it is, much harder in a small outback town of only 5000 people.

If anyone is confused at this point about what is happening Fred Nile did a wonderful of clearing the entire topic up for us on his ABC radio interview (https://soundcloud.com/702abcsydney/rev-fred-nile-mlc-talks-to) in which he insisted we parents are idiots and SRI participation went down when we had a choice because the form confused us. He also insisted that we all supported him making our choices for us and that the education charted insisted on religious education and did not including any secular options. Parents shouldn’t be offered any secular alternative until they have be forced to deny EVERY other religion on offer.

If this is the thinking behind the governments move to change the school enrolment forms I can’t see how every parent of school aged or nearing school aged children should not be deeply insulted. I for one am a parent and not an idiot. I understand quite well that I can choose not to have my child indoctrinated at school and I do not need the government hiding my options from me when it comes to my child’s education. Who do these people think they are? Fred Nile commands less than 3% of the states votes, what makes him think he has rights over my child when more than 97% of the state think he should pull his head in?

If as Fred suggests, 50% of parents (I don’t know the figures but have heard they are significant), have not opted-in to a religious indoctrination course what business of the government, regardless of votes, to force 50% of parents back into some form of indoctrination of their children. Surely 50% of parents choosing not to have schools indoctrinate their children is a clear statement of our wishes for our own children. Even if some part of this group were unable to understand the forms – possibly under 3%, Fred supporters maybe – why is it the other 47+% of us should be treated like idiots and have our options removed from view so we don’t know they are there to be utilised?

As parents we should all concern ourselves with the indoctrination of our children. We should not let the state employed evangelists to do it for us. This must be as true for me, an atheist, as it is for parents from any of the various belief systems that are truly concerned about what their children believe.

Having vented my anger at yet another government full of twats being elected in this once great country of our I will have to take my leave. Good night all and may your gods remain fictional.

The Antitheocrat

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