Parents in Australia Campaign against Special Religious Education in Public Schools


Leader of the Campaign Lara Wood says “Scripture classes push messages about sin, death suicide, sexuality and female submission onto children without the knowledge of their parents.”

In Australia, parents are worried about the Special Religious Education (SRE) program being implemented at public schools. SRE is a religion subject but is noted to be focused on the introduction of Christian and other faiths depending on the curriculum at schools. Parents are mainly concerned about their children being indoctrinated with a certain religion especially that Australia is home to a diverse, multicultural and multi-faith population.

The lobby group Fairness in Religion in Schools spearheads the campaign against SRE. To publicly denounce the program, the group is setting up a huge billboard in the major suburb of Sydney. According to the group’s leader Lara Wood “Scripture classes push messages about sin, death suicide, sexuality and female submission onto children without the knowledge of their parents.” Additionally, Wood criticizes the New South Wales government for its failure to regulate the SRE program.

In response to the growing public clamor, the Department of Education ordered an audit of the program including the curriculums being implemented at schools. According to the agency, it wants to see SRE and scripture classes to be “sensitive, age appropriate and of a high standard.” Additionally, it also proposes for the revision of enrollment forms which will give parents the opportunity or option not to enroll their children to SRE classes.

But the Archdeacon of the Anglican Church at Central Coast thinks of a slightly different solution. He suggests that SRE focusing on a specific religion should be replaced by a general religious education subject that will reflect the country’s multicultural and multi-faith society. He stressed that “If parents want their children formed in a particular tradition they should take them to a place of worship”. This essentially means that religious education and choices is basically on the hands of the children’s parents.

On the other side, South Sydney Anglican Bishop Rob Forsyth defended the Special Religious Education program claiming that it is not aimed at proselytizing children but merely provides basic education in Christian faith. The Bishop argues that “If these parents don’t like it, no one is forcing their children to attend SRE classes. They don’t have to go. It’s as simple as that. But they should not be trying to stop other people from sending their kids to SRE if that’s their choice.”

Last week, Victoria’s government announced they would be removing religious instruction from curriculums and instead teaching classes on relationships, which would focus on world traditions, family violence, and diversity.


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