Religion in Australian Schools

An interesting discussion on Television on the morning of 21st December 2009, following these comments from Tony Abbott, the Federal Opposition Leader:

“I think everyone should have some familiarity with the great texts that are at the core of our civilisation,” said the Federal Opposition leader.
“That includes, most importantly, the Bible.”
“I think it would be impossible to have a good general education without at least some serious familiarity with the Bible and with the teachings of Christianity.”
“That doesn’t mean that people have to be believers.”

The TV segment included a discussion with an Anglican Minister, and an Atheist, and the highlight to me, was when the Atheist, who is against the bible being read in school, said that the bible does not encourage discussion, which prompted the Anglican to explain that it actually does, and that the Atheist should read it to better understand what it actually does say.

The atheist responded by saying that she did read the bible when young, as she was in a Presbyterian family.

My conclusion to this segment was that both of them seemed to be very intelligent people, with a solid ability to discuss the subject sensibly and calmly.

Both of them have also read the bible when young…

My opinion: After realising that both these people have read the bible, it does seem to give more strength to the argument that it is a good idea. Especially when you compare those two people against people who have never read it.

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All schools have compulsory book reading classes, it is part of English, what would be wrong in using the Bible for this, instead of books such as “The Outsider”, which is my child’s current book for year 9.

Islamic advisor Dr Ameer Ali, talking about Mr Abbott’s remarks said: “It’s one thing to say every child needs a good knowledge of history and geography or science, but it is something else to say all children should have a knowledge of the Bible. That might hurt other people who have their own holy scriptures.”

My opinion on this

Australia is a predominantly Christian country, it therefore makes sense to follow Christian teachings. Both Jewish schools insist that their faith is taught in their schools, so do Muslim schools, and other specific religious based schools.

What is wrong with a country having a little Religious Education in the national syllabus ?

We had Religious Education when I was growing up, and I am sure it did me no harm. I am sure I learnt some things from it, and I am sure that the Atheist mentioned above, also learnt from it. And I can count on one hand the number of times I have been to Church in the last 30 years.

Australia’s Religious make-up

1996 Census

  • 77.92% Christian 12,582,800
  • 1.24% Buddhism 199,800
  • 1.24% Islam 200,900
  • 0.42% Hinduism 67,300
  • 0.49% Judaism 79,800
  • 0.42% Other Non-Christian 68,600
  • 18.26% No Religion 2,948,900

2006 Census

  • 72.50% Christian 12,685,800
  • 2.39% Buddhism 418,800
  • 1.95% Islam 340,400
  • 0.85% Hinduism 148,100
  • 0.51% Judaism 88,800
  • 0.62% Other Non-Christian 109,000
  • 21.18% No Religion 3,706,600

The above percentage figures exclude those that gave no answer to the question.
Source: ABS – 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Table 1. Change in religious affiliations.

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