Tuesday 25 February 2014

Act for Secular Education NOW

On behalf of Sydney Atheists, the committee requests that eveyone makes the most of the furore surrounding Access Ministries in Victoria.

This is a unique opportunity to engage our own NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli office@piccoli.minister.nsw.gov.au, and our Premier, Barry O'Farrell http://www.premier.nsw.gov.au/contact-premier-new-south-wales in the discussion regarding scripture in our state. It is also wise to engage your local member in the conversation.

To take matters further, there is every reason to engage with your Federal Politician and the Federal Minister for Education, Christopher Pine C.Pyne.MP@aph.gov.au and of course our Prime Minister Tony Abbott http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm .

You can cite the inappropriate intrusion  of religious bodies such as Access Ministries into the life and spiritual  choices of our young impressionable children by scripture teachers and chaplains. You can point out that the activities of personnel from such bodies are not closely scrutinised.

You might also like to mention that cutting back on chaplains would be far better for the Australian community than cutting back on health and education.

Please act on this now, whilst it is headline news. Please also be very respectful in your communications with the politicians concerned.

Thank you,
Steve Marton

Sunday 23 February 2014

Parents have no idea how religious zealots target their children.

The Department of Education in Victoria is investigating "inappropriate and offensive" religious material distributed at a primary school. As the ABC reports, Naja Voorhoeve, whose seven-year-old child received the material from an older student, says special religious instruction (SRI) providers should be banned from public schools.

"If the SRI providers were prepared to breach our trust in this matter, you have absolutely no idea about the other things that they're doing, about instances in other schools where this material might have been handed out," she said.

"My personal position is that SRI volunteers should not be allowed in schools because their programs cannot be adequately monitored.

Sydney Atheists considers all SRI inappropriate

Fundamentalist Christians with an agenda to evangelise children in public schools are being given free reign without parents knowledge. Sydney Atheists is deeply concerned by the activities of SRI providers like ACCESS Ministries, especially given the recent exposure of distribution of various controversial documents, including homophobic material to year 6 children.

Parents all over Australia are - often unwittingly - permitting their children to attend Special Religious Instruction (SRI) which they are told is innocuous sounding “values education”. SRI service providers like ACCESS Ministries are anything but innocuous. “Learning” material is being given to children with messages such as that girls who wear revealing clothes are inviting sexual assault, and that homosexuality, masturbation and sex before marriage are sinful.

Sydney Atheists strongly advocates against making children feel ashamed about their own bodies or to instilling in them sense of ‘sin’ and inherent guiltiness. Children deserve to learn factually correct, age appropriate information about safer sex practices, not myths and out-dated gender-based stereotypes. Suggesting that safer sex practices are a "lie" is not appropriate for children at any age.

The majority of parents do not support the idea that "The Lord wants the wife to let the husband have authority" in marriage. Mandating retrograde gender roles is not appropriate for young girls, especially without the approval or knowledge of their parents.

Children are the responsibility for the whole community. It’s important that they be cherished and encouraged to pursue intellectual and reason based understanding of the world they live in. Sydney Atheists calls on all political parties to commit to implementing and supporting secular education systems in our public schools that provide an information based, logical and rational based framework for our children to develop into well rounded adults.

Anyone concerned about the indoctrination of children in Victorian public schools should sign this petition to remove SRI volunteers.Lara Wood, from the group Fairness in Religions in Schools, has written to the Minister for Education in Victoria, and her letter is well worth reading.

Secular Activism Conference

Sydney Atheists, in conjunction with the Secular Coalition of Australia conducted the first Secular Activism conference of its kind on Saturday 22nd of February. We had 65 attendees from as far afield as Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Newcastle. The speakers: Professor Marion Maddox from Macquarie University, Cathy Byrne, Lara Wood from Fairness in Religion in Schools, Joe Kelly - the Principal for Cranbourne South Primary School in Victoria- and former senator Lyn Allyson presented a magnificent array of talks that were very engaging and relevant to the quasi religious state that we find ourselves in.

The print, audio and visual media, particularly in Victoria has run very hard on the issue of religious incursion into the State School system, one of the most important topics discussed on the day:

On behalf of Sydney Atheists and the Secular Coalition of Australia, I would like to give our most heartfelt thanks to attendees and the speakers who made the event the great success that it was.

Steve Marton

Thursday 20 February 2014

Extra Speaker at Secular Activism Conference

Joe Kelly (http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/primary-school-principals-shut-down-religious-education-classes-20140216-32ty8.html) the Principal for Cranbourne South Primary School in Melbourne axed religious instruction classes from his school. He has received widespread coverage in the Melbourne media over the last few days. Joe is coming to Sydney for the Secular Activism Conference and has been added to the list of speakers .

Seats are still available. For details, please go to http://www.meetup.com/sydneyatheists/events/161265172/ and book through http://www.trybooking.com/EDQK or ring Steve Marton 0450 123 211

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Success in Victoria against Special Religious Instruction

Just in time for the Secular Conference comes a massive article in The Age regarding opting out of religious classes in Victorian schools. One of our guests, Lara Wood from Fairness in Religion in Schools, will report on that success on Saturday.

Tickets are still available
To make a booking, please go to: http://www.trybooking.com/EDQK 

Saturday 15 February 2014

February Talks

A big thank you to Teresa Russell from Primary Ethics for her talk about the history of  Primary Ethics, what the organisation does, its success and its future.

Those who would like to contribute as Ethics teachers can contact Primary Ethics via their website at http://www.primaryethics.com.au/

Also a big thank you to Bruce Long who told us about the meaning of life.

All in all a Valentine's evening well spent

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Secular Activism Conference

If anyone is able to take a billet from interstate,
please contact me.

Thank you,

Steve Marton
0450 123 211

Secular Activism Conference

Saturday 22nd February 11.00am till 6.00pm, with option to stay for social and dinner till pub closing.

Please make and pay for your bookings as soon as possible, as the event will be open to the public from Wednesday the 12th of February. Admission is by ticket only.

For details please see below or on our Meetup website:  http://www.meetup.com/sydneyatheists/events/161265172/

To book, go to:

Tuesday 4 February 2014


To watch the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate “Is creation a viable model of origins?”, please go to: http://debatelive.org/

To view the letter from the Secular Coalition of Australia to Bill Nye, please go to: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/an-open-letter-to-bill-nye/#respond