St Matthew's in the City, proud purveyor of the above billboard, has come out in favour of secular education.
Tally ho I say.
As a product of a partially-integrated, fundamentalist, ‘it’s okay to keep people as slaves during lunch hours’ high school myself, these issues grate me to no end.
Mr Clay Nelson of St. Matthew's is from the US, so no prizes for guessing where his secular attitudes come from. Despite taking a knife and fork to American politics for its coma-inducing inanity, the U.S. will always be admirable for the separation of Church and State.
Not so New Zealand. There exists a loophole wherein public schools may ‘close’ for up to 20 hours a year in order for religious education to take place.
One of those loopholes was stretched at the edges when our entire Sixth Form was pulled from classes in order to attend a lesson in Intelligent Design (a paradoxical idea and a contradiction in terms), though it was never referred to by name.
Mr Nelson is also fantastically on the ball when posed with the question of parents or students opting out of religious classes. He cites the castration that those students may face from their peers – something I experienced time and time again despite Jesus’ insistence not to judge others, nor to persecute them for their lack of faith.
Not satisfied with indoctrination and the stifling of free expression (or even physical contact with the opposite sex), the school decided, in order to fleece the NCEA framework, it would shave and sacrifice credits (grades) from other subjects in order that Biblical Studies could be workable.
Not content with its official standing as only partially-integrated, staple subjects such as Classics and English were infused with Biblical hair-splitting and dubious parallels.
This is the school that insisted, on my admission, the Catholicism of my upbringing was ‘man-made’ and yet their Christianity was ‘God-made’.
This is the school that banned Harry Potter, citing the usual ‘suffer a witch to live’ line, yet allowed The Chronicles of Narnia to be distributed freely. Because a magical, talking lion is obviously a metaphor for The Almighty.
People in favour of religion in schools point to its ability to teach ‘values’ – yet what are these values?
On paper: to be kind, to love your neighbor, to be charitable to those in need, to be humble, and so on – but these are commonly held beliefs and are not rendered useless without a Godly context.
They’re all fair and admirable. But in real life, these things are accompanied by other attitudes.
Love thy enemy? What an absolute suspension of logic! An enemy is an enemy for a reason.
Consider women in the same category as property? This came over all too well during my school years, and it was no typically-chauvinist kitchen-joke affair, but a fully-fledged and deeply entrenched sense of misogyny that perforated my male schoolfriends.
Then there are the misunderstandings of doctrine: judge not lest ye be judged? I never knew one student who did not live in a glasshouse, yet insisted on clutching a pile of stones, ready to throw.
Humility? No, every Monday morning, assembly was brimming with braggadocio and posturing. ‘Look at how blessed we all are with the glory of the Lord!’ they cry, yet this is nowhere near as distressing as hearing the jeers and tropes against ‘God-less’ people. It’s all bound up with a cynicism not usually found amongst a supposedly faithful selection of believers.
The arrogance is hard to avoid.
Mr Nelson believes keeping religion in public schools is “an imposition on the religious freedom of others”, and I agree wholeheartedly.Common moral attitudes can be found everywhere throughout our public education system – they don’t need to be taught from a makeshift pulpit.
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