Queensland Government –
People’s Question Time:
10 November 2010
It would be great if as many Queenslanders as possible could submit a short question relating to the intrusion of religion into Queensland state schools. The Premier, Anna Bligh and Education Minister, Geoff Wilson will be available to take questions from the public. Please make your question is short as this gives it more chance of being aired. A question from your own experience would be great, but as ‘inspiration’ here are some issues worth considering in relation to the Premier’s response to questions on religion and education in a previous question time:
The Premier lied when she said that Queensland has a secular education system. In fact, the word secular was expunged from the Queensland education act in 1910 and the Education Minister, Geoff Wilson, wrote to the Australian Secular lobby on 15 June 2009 saying: ‘… the government currently has no plans to re-introduce the word “secular” into legislation.’
The premier assured listeners that religion in state schools is voluntary and yet the ASL has repeatedly produced evidence to the contrary to Education Queensland and been ignored. We know for a fact that a large percentage of parents who have marked ‘no religion’ on enrolment forms have found their children were put into religious instruction classes without their permission and some parents who have explicitly requested that their children not be exposed to RI have found their kids have been seated at the back of the RI class!
How ‘voluntary’ is religious exposure when chaplains wander around the school grounds handing out religious material, say prayers on assembly and at school speech nights and invite kids to lunch-time Bible studies and religious school camps? How ‘voluntary’ is religion when in order to participate in a school wide ‘non-uniform’ day, kids have to make a donation to support the school chaplain?
Education Queensland allows Hillsong’s Shine and Strength programmes into state schools and represents them to parents as secular, despite ample evidence that these programmes are used for proselytising and to impart ‘Christian’ values. Even Anna Bligh admits in the video above that Shine is a Christian programme. The video below explicitly reveals the aim of the programme is to provide “influence from a godly perspective” and to fill a “gap” in the children’s lives.
“… it gives the church to have an opportunity to have a foot in the door … and to give them those principles … that they may not get if they’re not in a Christian family … I want to see these young girls come to a knowledge of salvation … to get to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.”
The Premier says that intelligent design is appropriately used in senior science classes to encourage ‘critical thinking’. One wonders whether she also advocates that the ‘flat earth theory’ should be introduced into geography classes for a similar purpose.
The Queensland Government supports the National Schools Chaplaincy programme despite opposition to the programme from teachers unions, mental health experts, and parents and citizens groups who believe the programme short-changes our children and would prefer trained mental health professionals instead.
In 2008 the ratio of school counsellors to children in Queensland schools was 1:1300. Why is money being spent on chaplains rather than qualified professionals?
The more questions received on this subject, the more likely at least one or two will be put to the Premier and the Education Minister. Let’s let them know that this is an issue that’s not going to go away or be swept under the carpet.
High Court Challenge (to National Schools Chaplaincy Programme)