I suppose many readers might assume that I would be for the continuing teaching of bible classes in state schools. Of the type where the school "closes down" for a little while so that the class can be taught out of school time. Except I don't support this sort of thing at all.
The whole notion of closing a school down so a subject can be taught is ridiculous. Either the school has the mandate to teach something or it doesn't. In other words, Bible class should be made part of the curriculum, and then the fight is with the Government, or the school not teach it at all. Any parents that want Bible class need to get together and create some sort of Sunday school.
So, in that way I am on the side of Jeff McClintock, who is taking his 7 year old daughter's school and Attorney General, Chris Finlayson to court. From 3 News:
A parent fighting bible lessons in schools admits he's feeling a weight on his shoulders as his High Court battles begins.
Jeff McClintock is taking a case against Red Beach School north of Auckland, and the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson.
He says it has become a David and Goliath battle that could set a precedent for other schools.
What I find interesting, is this Bible in secular schools is really a hang over from when every one in New Zealand was Catholic or Protestant. The Catholics had their own religious schools and the Protestants had the state schools.
From the 3 News article, Massey University History Professor Peter Lineham says:
"We've had this system of bible in schools for 100 years or more now and it came about because there was consensus at the time that those who hadn't gone off to Catholic schools were very happy to have some kind of religious education, but there was always a right for people to opt out. Now the opters-out are claiming that this is a terrible prejudice against them."
I'll ignore Peter Lineham's ideas that he puts forward in the article, because I disagree with them.
Another option, could be that the Bible classes need to be at the beginning or the end of school, so that parents who don't want their children to attend just take them when school officially starts or pick them up early. This is how the Catholic school my youngest son went to a number of years back dealt with objectors, such as myself, to schools teaching sex education to pre-teenage children.
I personally find that with religious education, it's pretty much pointless if the person teaching it does not live it or believe it. In fact, it's a good way of creating little atheists if it's not taught well. I've seen enough of that sort of thing in Catholic schools where the religious education can be trivialised or dumbed down.
Also, from the Catholic point of view, a parent's right to have their child taught what they believe, even if it is atheism, is paramount. God gives atheists children and expects those atheists to raise those children in the best way they can. So even if I disagree with atheism, I side with the father in his case against the school, for no one has a right to teach children anything that is contrary to their parent's beliefs.
Compulsory schooling, for too long in countries such as NZ, creates a belief that the will of the state is supreme with regards to education. It's good that this idea is being challenged.