School fights to keep the faith

By DAVID BANCROFT

dbancroft@dailyexaminer.com.au

THERE are moves within the State Government to restrict the capacity of Christian schools to teach the scriptures and employ Christian teachers, according to one of the Valley's leading Christian educators.

St Andrew's Christian School principal Frank Bailey said he had been made aware of moves by some in the State Government that would 'prevent Christian schools from employing Christian staff and prevent some areas of the Bible from being taught in the school (eg Romans 8)'.

Christian-based schools currently have an exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Act allowing them to use Christianity as a basis for employment.

But Mr Bailey said that for some years there had been government members, most of them atheists, who wanted that exemption repealed, meaning non-Christians would also have to be considered for school positions.

"Every year it gets more support," he said.

"I think there is an element (within government) of wanting to placate them.

"If you sit back and wait for it to happen it will sneak through.

"What appears to be happening is that they are saying now they want to create a similar system to the public system where teachers are not allowed to share their faith.

"Public schools are not places where kids are taught, or should have, a spiritual input.

"We are concerned about the idea of independence." "Parents pay for independence and the value set of our schools. If parents aren't happy with it they will walk."

Mr Bailey said governments were increasingly trying to dictate what occurred at private schools.

"There are lots of areas where governments say 'unless you comply you will lose your funding'," he said.

"My concern is that slowly but surely it will come to the stage where no-one will be able to teach religious education."

He said that private schools should be able to choose their staff on whatever grounds they saw fit.

Clarence Valley Anglican School principal Chris Ivey said his school was not as strict in its employment criteria, but would be concerned if there were moves to restrict religious education or to remove the exemptions from the Anti-Discrimination Act.

He said, however, he had not heard of any moves to do so.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Education, Carmel Tebbutt, said there were no plans to change the current arrangements in relation to the teaching of scripture in public schools, or the employment of teachers.

What do you think? Email your thoughts to pellem@dailyexaminer.com.au



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