I wrote a while back about Special Religious Education (SRE) in State schools in Australia. The are problems both with the concept itself, and with the State-by-State implementation.
WA Today reports that some Victorian students may soon have access to a humanist education alternative in SRE time, instead of being sat down to do homework while their friends are eating lollies and singing songs. The course will take an applied ethics approach, covering “subjects such as the art of living, the environment, philosophy, science and world citizenship”, and will aim to ground children in the basics of critical thought, equality, and enlightened democracy.
The plan is meeting with resistance from Christian lobby groups.
WA Today: Religion in schools to go God-free [links are mine]:
The Humanist Society of Victoria has developed a curriculum, which the State Government accreditation body says it intends to approve, to deliver 30-minute lessons each week of “humanist applied ethics” to primary pupils.
Accredited volunteers will be able to teach their philosophy in the class time designated for religious instruction. As with lessons delivered by faith groups, parents will be able to request that their children do not participate.
Victorian Humanist Society president Stephen Stuart said: “Atheistical parents will be pleased to hear that humanistic courses of ethics will soon be available in some state schools.”
But the body that accredits Victoria’s 3500 Christian religious instruction volunteers, Access Ministries, says humanism is not a religion and so should not be taught in religious education time. [...]
Fundamentalist Christian group the Salt Shakers panned the idea of humanists being given religious education class time.
Research director Jenny Stokes said: “If you go there, where do you stop? What about witchcraft or Satanism? If you accredit humanism, then those things would have an equal claim to be taught in schools.” [...]
Ms Stokes said humanists could not expect to have it both ways. “It doesn’t make sense because they proclaim themselves not to be a religion,” she said.
Religious instruction in state schools should be Christian because “basically we are a Christian nation”, she said.
May this be the first step.