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.

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