Religious education faces judgement day in Queensland state schools
Jun 10, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
The Queensland government will review religious education classes in all state schools following claims a widely-used program is being used to persuade children into Christianity.
The move follows a complaint to the state government by the principal of Windsor State School, Matthew Keong, about the Connect syllabus used for religious education at his Brisbane school.
Queensland education minister Kate Jones this week ordered a departmental review of the material taught in all state public schools.
“I am concerned content outside the guidelines of this long-standing policy may currently be being provided in state schools,” she said.
“Any materials found to be in breach of the policy will be removed from schools.”
Mr Keong says the program contravenes government policy which specifically prohibits “proselytising” - a term defined as attempting to convert someone from one belief to another.
“Connect’s lesson materials go beyond imparting knowledge of Biblical references, and extend to soliciting children to develop a personal faith in God and Jesus to become a Christian or ‘Kingdom Kid’,” he said.
“The whole program appears to be based on that premise of trying to solicit them for a decision to become the kind of Christian prescribed in the materials.”
The minister’s decision has won backing from Scripture Union Queensland, which supports chaplains in two-thirds of the state’s schools.
“Children and young people should never be coerced or manipulated about their beliefs,” said its chief executive, Peter James.
“But they should be free to explore belief if they choose to.”
The Queensland Christian Religious Instruction Network has expressed dismay that the review follows a complaint by just one principal and was launched without recourse to the providers of school RE classes, including Christian, Muslim, Bahai and Buddhist instructors.