19 Nov 2010 – The Education Minister Bronwyn Pike has refused to allow humanist ethics to be taught in Victorian schools, as an alternative to Christian Religious Instruction. The Humanist Society of Victoria has developed a syllabus suitable for use in schools. This could be approved by the appropriate accrediting body, but Ms Pike has rejected it on the grounds that humanism’s “world view philosophy cannot be defined as a religion”. Read Full News Item …
Victorian Humanists object to expansion of school chaplaincy
12 Aug 2010 – On 8th August 2010, the Prime Minister and Minister for Education announced an expansion of the National School Chaplaincy Program by $60 million over three years for one thousand new chaplains. This is an unworthy sop to the church lobby, just before an election. It is also a backdown from Ms Gillard’s secular stance of 2008 — but admittedly shows her commendable restraint in not imposing private atheism on government policy.
Chaplains in schools become invested in student’s eyes with the full authority of the State, but are only a cheap and nasty substitute for professionally qualified counsellors. Guidelines for chaplains’ conduct are side-stepped when activities supporting group morale lead to private sessions of pastoral care and preaching of the gospel, in flagrant violation of the secular ideal for State education. Humanists are convinced that safe, sensitive counselling calls for secular professionals.
Report by Stephen Stuart, President
The Prime Minister’s unbelief
21 Jul 2010 – The following is part of a transcript of an interview between radio broadcaster, Jon Faine, and the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, on Radio 774 ABC, Melbourne, on 29th June 2010.
Jon Faine: Do you believe in god?
Julia Gillard: No, I don’t, Jon. I’m not a religious person. I was brought up in the Baptist church, as is now very well known, I think. We’re Welsh migrants, we’re Baptists, I grew up going to Mitcham Baptist church. … But during my adult life I’ve, you know, found a different path. I’m of course a great respecter of religious beliefs, but they’re not my beliefs, Jon.
3 May 2010 – This week there’s a right brouhaha over the introduction of a course in secular ethics in New South Wales state schools. Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is concerned that ethics classes will undermine scripture teaching in New South Wales schools.
Wallace fears that the introduction of ethics classes is part of a wider secularist agenda to push religious education out of schools. He’s wrong. I don’t know of any atheist or secularist who opposes the teaching of the cultural significance and literary history of the world’s religions to students – and that’s what religious education is. Read Full News Item …