The primary motivation behind the Keep Religion Out Of Schools campaign is to support parents who have approached us with their experiences and concerns.
Often parents are not informed of religious indoctrination classes at all. When they do discover their children are participating they often find that the classes have been linked with 'Values' classes, thus forcing them to make a decision between having values and religion taught, or no values taught at all. Opting young children out means they are being separated from their classmates, and often have little comprehension of the reasons. Often they think they are being punished. Parents who are not religious are pressured into allowing religious indoctrination in order not to stigmatize their children. In some cases children opting out have been given degrading tasks such as picking up rubbish while religious classes are in progress. Some schools also make it onerous and difficult to opt out by insisting on written notices periodically.
The following are some observations of parents:
"Even though we opted out of the programme on our daughters enrolment form on her first day of school she come home excited to show us her first ever piece of homework it was a colouring in page entitled "God Helps Noah". Needless to say I got straight on the phone to the school office to ensure that indeed we did not want our daughter to attend bible class."
"My school stealthily renamed Bible Studies 'Values' education (we all like values yes?). Your school may use a similar trick. We just re-read the last 2 YEARs of school newsletters...ZERO mention religion OR of our right to opt-out. How can you opt-out if YOU DON"T KNOW IT"S HAPPENING?"
"...on occasions she has come home feeling unhappy that she comes from a family that is different form the rest of the school, this feeling of estrangement is what is motivating me to speak to the school. In my opinion it is wrong for the school to promote a programme which incites these feelings in children."
Clearly the time has come for the NZARH to step up and speak for the parents that are being discriminated against and stigmatized in their own communities for simply not wanting to indoctrinate their child with Christian doctrine and dogma.