Australian Islamist Monitor

Islam Under Scrutiny

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Christianity scores F – Islam scores A+

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Recently there’s been outrage about Christianity being taught in schools.

Al Age’s Jewel Topsfield reported that the Victorian government’s Education Minister, Martin Dixon, planned to boost funding to Christian education classes in schools.

Mr Dixon said Christian education provider Access Ministries would receive an extra $200,000 a year for training, administration and the supervision of volunteer instructors.

The funding boost comes as Access Ministries called on Christians to take urgent action, saying its very foundation was being challenged by a court case that questioned the Education Department's guidelines on the teaching of faith in schools.

''For many children, [Christian religious education] is their only introduction to the values that underpin a biblical understanding of God, the world, themselves and others.''

Primary students must attend religious education classes, which are run by volunteers, for half an hour every week, unless their parents choose for them to opt out.

Three parents are claiming in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission that the Education Department segregates children on religious grounds and discriminates by forcing children to opt out rather than opting in if they want religious education.

One of the parents in the court case, Sophie Aitken, said her son was given Lego to play with at the back of the classroom after she and her husband chose to have him opt out of special religious instruction at Ivanhoe East Primary. ''I think he must have listened in to the special religious instruction, because I remember him coming home and saying things like ''God made the world'', said Ms Aitken, an atheist whose father was a Holocaust refugee.

''In a multicultural society like ours, I am appalled that our state schools would promote one particular faith over all other world views, and would remove children whose families have different beliefs from the class.''

She said children should be taught by qualified teachers during school time, not volunteers from a church.

Although Australia is a secular country, Judeo-Christian values have formed our worldview and brought us democracy, equality and the freedoms we hold so dear.

So to me it doesn’t seem too outrageous for Christianity to be offered to those whose parents choose it.

My heart bleeds for poor Sophie that her son inadvertently heard that “God made the world”. That would surely traumatize him for life. Maybe Sophie would prefer that ‘qualified teachers’ recited from some great atheist book, like the Communist Manifesto or Mao’s Little Red Book.

The comments were instructive. Alex of Healesville, while railing against ignorance and bigotry, revealed this characteristic in himself:

Ignorance and bigotry are the winners here. Let's ignore 70% of the world and teach our children that our religion is better than the rest. Are we afraid to discuss other ideas with our children? Is our faith in Christianity so frail that we cannot hold it up to scrutiny? I have met families from all parts of the globe and we all want the same things - a peaceful world to raise our children, to enjoy our common humanity, respect and learn from our differences. A good Christian is no better or worse than a good Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Hindu, Bhuddist, Pagan, Agnositic, Humanist or Athiest...

It's privileging one set of beliefs, without anything to objectively recommend it, other than the historical patterns of immigration to this country. (source)

Sadly, Alex is ignorant about all wanting the same thing. Most want a peaceful world to raise our children and respect differences, but Islam believes all must be subjugated under their rule and regards kuffars – yes, even righteous Alex - as less than human.

Let’s hope Alex opposes LFOA, which pushes Islam into schools, and is “privileging one set of beliefs”, just as vociferously.

Barney Zwartz has a more nuanced view:

To be anti-religion is not to be neutral on religion.

CHRISTIAN education in government schools is suddenly controversial, as secularists make it the latest battleground in their efforts to wind back what they see as the malign influence of religion.

A case alleging discrimination has been brought to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission; interfaith groups and a new multi-faith education network of academics want to end the present system.

It is in everyone's interest to have a religiously and ethically literate society. What is needed is a formal course taught by trained teachers, introducing students to the various religions and non-religious ethical theories but advocating none.

The Australian constitution forbids the establishment of any particular religion, and many religious people understand that a secular state is the best guarantee of freedoms for all, religious and non-religious alike…where no religion is privileged.

Many secularists criticise religions as ''ideologies'', as though religion were merely a set of (false) truth claims…but fail to understand that neither is secularism ideologically neutral - it too is built on certain values and presuppositions.

What worries me is the rise of a radical secularism arguing that religion must be expunged from public life. The extreme form is exemplified by Richard Dawkins's claim in The God Delusion that teaching children religion amounts to child abuse…This radical secularism teaches that believers are wicked or deluded, and in either case that they damage society. ..

This radical version is slowly and steadily moving into the mainstream of political discourse. As Anglican Bishop Tom Frame said, it ''represents a veiled form of political tyranny and ideological oppression. It is yet another closed belief system with little capacity for self-criticism, sustained by an absolute conviction regarding the necessity of its own ascendancy''.

Therefore the secularists cannot be let loose to devise a compulsory religion/ethics program for schools. If no religion should be advocated, neither should atheism.

Australia is not a Christian country - the constitution says so. But Christianity has had a long and profound influence on Australia's politics and values, and Christians are entitled to require that this influence be fairly taught in government schools. (source)

Let’s hear from other stakeholders:

BUDDHIST community leader Dr Sue Smith has complained of the ''Christian bias'' in religious education in Victoria, saying if her group had access to government funding, they too could expand to hundreds of schools.

And social commentator and Muslim Waleed Aly said it was a ''logical necessity'' to ''get proselytisation out of the classroom''.

Public debate on the issue was sparked by a Sunday Age revelation that the Education Department was forcing schools to host Christian religious education…and when Education Minister Martin Dixon, a Catholic, granted $200,000 in extra funding to Christian religious education provider Access Ministries.

The move sparked anger from groups representing other religions, who said Mr Dixon had not consulted them.

''We were requesting a meeting with the minister and have not even received a reply,'' said Anna Halaffof of the Religion, Ethics and Education Network Australia, which promotes religious tolerance and respect.

The leaders of Access Ministries say their syllabus gives children an introduction to spirituality and values, and they insist that they do not proselytise.

Mr Aly asked whether ''the providers of Christian education feel equally comfortable if the religious education spot were handed over instead to Jewish teachers, or Buddhist teachers or, shock horror, Muslim teachers?

''If they're not comfortable in that, then it's clear that there's a bias in the teaching that they would wish to preserve.''

He said children in state schools should be taught about all religions.

Scott Hedges, a parent involved with the ''Fairness in Religions in School'' grassroots campaign, said that the Christianity taught in his daughter's Hawthorn school was missionary in nature.

''The only difference between my daughter's class and an African village to these people is that we have cleaner water and shoes.'' (source)

 

Wal believes it is a ''logical necessity'' to ''get proselytisation out of the classroom''. So do we, which is why we oppose LFOA, which forces Islam into every aspect of the school curriculum (see AIM: Reporting on "Ban LFOA" Petition and other articles).

Wal asks whether ''the providers of Christian education feel equally comfortable if the religious education spot were handed over instead to Jewish teachers, or Buddhist teachers or, shock horror, Muslim teachers?

No, we are not comfortable that all aspects (not just religious education) of the curriculum have been infiltrated by Islam and that our teachers are required to spread da’wa.

It seems Wal was not so precious about religious bias when he and his wife went to Malaysia as the guests of the Malay Muslim Professionals Organisation, which seeks to ensure that Muslims are insulated from Christian teaching. This Islamist organisation often features speakers like Dr Azzam Tamimi:

“The day HAMAS won the Palestinian democratic elections, the world's leading democracies failed the acid test of democracy. Rather than recognise the legitimacy of HAMAS as a freely elected representative of the Palestinian people, the US and EU threatened the Palestinian people with collective punishment for exercising their inalienable right.
Our esteemed guest, Dr. Tamimi, exposes the hypocrisy of the "democratic west" and unravels the web of misconceptions and fallacies about HAMAS. (source)

Charismatic and eloquent, his passion almost always leaves his listeners completely enthralled. Having personally experienced the plight of the Palestinians, his commitment to this cause is unquestionable, often forthrightly calling for the dismantling of Zionism just as Apartheid was. “

Ganesh Sahathevan writes:

Both Susan and Waleed have repeatedly refused to answer queries concerning their links to and funding from Malaysia, and in particular Dr Abdul Rahim Ghouse, a known associate of the Al-Qaeda financier Sheik Yassin Al-Qadi” (reference)

But who cares if funding to spread Islam is coming from Islamic countries?
We all know that Islam is good – not like evil Christianity!

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 April 2011 15:36  

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