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Religious Instruction in State Schools.

Should religious instruction be permitted in New Zealand State Schools?

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The vote is already over! It ended on Wednesday, 30.April 2014 (00:00).

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An Auckland fathers case against school Bible classes has been ended by the Supreme Court. Auckland father Jeff McClintock sued an Auckland school after they persisted in placing his daughter in Bible worship classes without his consent.

The classes called "Values in Action" are taken by Church volunteers during school time and involved Bible reading and songs praising Jesus such as "Thank you Lord" and "He is King".

Read more: Bible in Schools case sunk by Supreme Court

David Hines and his team have set up a GiveALittle Donation Page to allow people to contribute to the legal costs of supporting Secular Education in a Judicial Review to be held in late April. David Hines and a group of parents affected by religious instruction have filed to join court action against the Ministry of Education. Over the last several months David Hines has attempted to bring the complaints of parents whose children experienced religious discrimination in state primary schools to the attention of the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education. After the Human Rights Commission dropped the complaints and the Ministry reneged on commitments to issue guidelines David was left with little alternative to join Jeff McClintock's action against Red Beach School and the Ministry of Education.

Opposing secular education is the Ministry of Education and Red Beach School with the Christian Education Commission providing assistance. It is a David and Goliath struggle with the highest paid legal experts opposing them. It is critical that those who support a secular school system, where children are safe and welcome regardless of faith, support and help fund this effort. 

Red Beach School’s refusal to attend mediation over Religious Instruction sessions left a long suffering dad with no option but to file for a Judicial Review of their decision by to hold religious instruction classes. The school included Jeff McClintock's daughter repeatedly in religious instruction classes against his express wishes.

Read more: Red Beach School Taken to Court

Our Recommendation

We recommend that the Government repeal clause 78 of the Education Act 1964 headed 'Religious instruction and observances in State primary schools'.

We recommend that the Education Act be made consistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights and Human Rights Act, in that they should not enable discrimination on the basis of belief, nor be seen to endorse specific belief systems, not even through the proxy of school boards.

Read more: Education Act Submission

The Secular Education Network are running a promotion to encourage parents to decline consent for their children to attend religious instruction. It is in the form of a card which can easily be filled in by parents and given to the school.

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