Religion in Public Schools, Continued

There’s been more grist to the mill in the debate around religious instruction in schools. Our Talking Point on Tuesday - ‘Should religion be taught in state education?’ - brought out some amazing responses. Several readers advocated the teaching of comparative religion - Augusta wrote, “If religion is to be taught in state schools presumably all religions must be taught with equal weight and without bias”; “why are we teaching our children that segregation is a natural and acceptable part of religion?” asks Liz, who’s studying to be a teacher; Cait said familiarity with the Bible is a cultural prerequisite like knowledge of Shakespeare; Amanda believes blanket bans create blind spots in children - “I don’t think it hurts to enjoy some fun customs that have religious origins… but mix it up!” she wrote; an anonymous reader wrote of their 6 year-old daughter being ostracised for opting out of religious instruction; and Simon writes, “I don’t trust a volunteer from any religious group not to present religion as facts to my child.”

Today’s Age reports on a working group of academics who recommend a multifaith approach to religious instruction in schools. Religions, Ethics and Education Network Australia has written to a group of Australian political leaders including the prime minister and education ministers advocating a change to the current model, in which about half of students in public education are taught about Christianity by volunteers. Three parents have lodged a complaint about this approach to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, claiming it’s exclusionary.

Thanks to all readers who’ve contributed to the Talking Point, and please keep posting. We encourage responses from all sides of the debate.

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