AIMS OF FIRIS

  • Maintain an inclusive school curriculum that does not require any student to withdraw from class on account of different religious beliefs, or none.
  • Formally cease the practice of volunteer-run Religious Instruction (SRI/SRE) during school hours.
  • Follow an objective, fair and balanced comparative syllabus for education about religions and beliefs.
  • Treat all religious organisations who wish to use the school facilities outside of the school day with transparent and equitable policies.

FIRIS is a parent-driven grassroots effort.  

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The main discussion between supporters is on our Facebook Page. Read the recent discussions and remember to LIKE us!

Fairness In Religions In School

LET'S CLARIFY - ONCE AGAIN - WHO AND WHAT FIRIS IS Dear Supporters, We feel this clarification is necessary today in light of the post about Tim Wilson and due to the recent robust discussions being had on our page. Let us please be clear. FIRIS is NOT an atheist group or campaign. And we are NOT made up of atheists who want to remove religion from public schools altogether. We are a very diverse bunch. Please have another look at our main photo at the very top of our page. We are made up of Hindus, Sikh's, Jews, LGBTI representatives - and of course atheists. We are made up of people who possess a degree in Theology, who are former church Ministers, who are practicing members of their faith communities. Some of us are former Pentecostal Christians who are now atheist. And of course, we have members who are of no faith. But we all have one common denominator. We are parents and concerned individuals who disagree with the policy of Religious Instruction in public schools. Let us also say that our success in Victoria has largely been thanks to the various people of faith (mainly Christian), who have helped us behind the scenes over the years. These wonderful people have made a TREMENDOUS difference to the campaign. They are faceless and nameless, because their positions in the Church make it impossible for them to publicly stand with us. We are also at this very moment working on building alliances with people of faith in NSW whom we share common ground. Just like the Australian Christian Lobby does not represent the wider Christian community - so too for the Sydney Anglican Diocese and their teachings in SRE. Many Christians who we have shown their materials to are saddened and in disagreement with the messages and format of their curriculum. In regards to the ongoing discussions on our page, we have noticed that some have become increasingly about DEBATING the merits of religion in general and the existence of God's, etc. We would like to ask everyone to please keep your discussions centred around SRE and religious activities in public schools. And this goes for BOTH sides - the religious and the non-religious. We are sure there are lots of other pages in social media for anyone who wants to debate religion in general. FIRIS doesn't care who believes what. We respect everyone's right to their beliefs and are only concerned in changing policy around SRE/SRI and lunchtime activities. And for anyone who is still unclear about our end goal - here it is again. We want to have SRE replaced with a world class General Religious Education and Ethics program. Currently in NSW, there is only a very brief and inadequate component, which is not available to all year levels. We are very close to getting this in VIC and we know it can be done and how it can be done. Again, we thank all our supporters, from all backgrounds for your fantastic warm welcome into NSW and your continuing support in VIC. We could not do this without your daily emails and messages with inquiries, information and feedback. So please, keep it coming and know that it makes a HUGE difference. Thank you so much. ... See MoreSee Less

13 hours ago

Darrin MorganWell said FIRIS.13 hours ago

Jim Little"We want to have SRE replaced with a world class General Religious Education and Ethics program" - I'd like to see an elaborate modern Philosophy program with Ethics, Religion, & Logic as sub-components13 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolHere is a photo taken during one of our meetings with the VIC Education Minister. It features Lara Wood, the woman in blue is a former Minister of the Uniting Church and practicing Christian, and the other mother is a proud Lesbian. We are a true representative of all parts of the community. That is why we have been successful. We speak for everyone.13 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolThis statue is of George Higinbotham. The man who was responsible for making our public schools "free, compulsory and secular" in 1872.12 hours ago

Darrin MorganThank you FIRIS for doing what the respective Education Departments are not doing i.e. monitoring compliance with their own policies and procedures.12 hours ago

Natasha NagyI fully respect the diversity of faith and opinion represented by this group. Personally, I would like to see more science in schools rather that SRE. Otherwise, diverse religious exposure and broad ethics rather than just the main mob recruiting.12 hours ago

Tom RottllerAmongst the religious opponents such as John Dixon et al, they often trample on the truth, twist it to suit their agenda. FIRIS has never been an anti-religious group. Some of the supporters have expression that appear to be anti-religious however the moderator of FIRIS in the past has done well to maintain a balance.12 hours ago

Martin HorlacherThank you, FIRIS!11 hours ago

Paul ShepanskiFairness In Religions In School, perhaps you wouldn’t appear to be anti-Chrisitan if you didn’t consistently attempt to cast aspects of the Christian faith in a negative light. There are a number of clear examples just over the last couple of days; any independent observer can judge for themselves. It's clear that many of your adherents (most of your most vocal ones) are anti-Christian. Obviously, there is plenty of incentive for you to maintain your appeal to them, so no real surprise at your dog-whistling, and the inevitable barking.11 hours ago

Emily McAvanIt's not anti Christian to want to keep schools secular. As a Jew I feel this protects my kid from Christian prosletysing - a phenomena that FIRIS has documented well. Secular schools secure the rights of all, not just Christians.11 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolThank you Emily McAvan. Yes, we have several families from the Jewish community who are impacted by this policy. And we also have children from same sex families who have been affected.11 hours ago

Louise MelbourneYou forgot to mention another thing that you are. You are great. Keep up the good work.10 hours ago

David ZyngierAs an education adviser for FIRIS may I contend the incredible work that had led to such ground breaking changes in our public schools. Thanks to a great team10 hours ago

Lara WoodWell said FIRIS :-)10 hours ago

Sebastian SardinaFIRIS was never against religion or atheist in any way, that is more clear than water. Maybe that's part of the problem for those defending SRI; they would like FIRIS to be something else?10 hours ago

Carolyn AttwoodI believe in freedom of religion and freedom from religion (these are both wonderful things). What I don't believe in is entities thinking they have the 'freedom to impose religion' in our society. Our communities, our schools and our legal system should represent us all equally and in unity. To do anything otherwise is to live with segregation, judgement and inequality. Kids are going to school and being segregated into different classrooms based on faith, they are being taught that kids with a mum and dad are different to kids with one parent or kids with two parents of the same gender, or children with divorced parents. They are being taught told that their own sexuality is bad or wrong in the eyes of god (especially kids who are transgender, homosexual). Many kids are being shamed in religious sex ed, especially young girls. It's not as simple as saying if you dont like it 'just opt them out' . The kids are being split up into two rooms and one room of kids are being told the other room of kids are some how bad or wrong or abnormal and I will never understand why anyone (from either side of the fence) could think that this is ok.10 hours ago

Jim LittleGood point, Sebastian Sardina - it seems the proponents for SRI seek to misrepresent FiRiS and its aims, and attack those misrepresentations ie. strawman fallacy.9 hours ago

Phillipa ToiaHmm I was booted out of the Australian Christian Lobby for congratulating the Uniting Church for their stand in support of equal marriage. So much for diversity within some of these groups.9 hours ago

ExposingReligion Australia Freedom from religionWe support the work you do and the achievements so far. Good luck in eliminating the need for your continued vigilance. We look forward to the day when neither of us are needed.9 hours ago

Polly Seidlerif NSW SRE were replaced with GRE ... ponder the child who has spiritual or specific religious questions, but her parents are not believers (and are unwilling to take their child to church) but are happy for their child to attend Christian SRE at school. i have had such children in my Christian SRE classes in NSW . SRE in NSW is a chance for children to ask their specific spiritual questions and find out more, even if their parents are not followers of that religious tradition - as long as parents consent to that child attending SRE. These children are the particuar ones who will miss out if SRE in NSW is abolished. Another parent (i spoke to on a holiday vacation) was relieved that her child was getting some religious instruction in NSW SRE as she admitted she did not go to church. The trouble with what FIRIS proposes is that school teachers teaching GRE cannot be expected to be able to handle specific questions of a particular religious faith - so cannot address these children's queries like a SRE teacher who is someone with particular special knowledge of that religion (and has done some training to teach in age appropriate ways to children in SRE).9 hours ago

Clive R. BondThis atheist/humanist congratulates you on your work.9 hours ago

Paul FosterI totally agree with FIRIS stance on this. I support FIRIS and I support the human right of freedom of religion.9 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolSorry Polly Seidler, but government cannot be in the business of promoting faith formation in secular public schools.8 hours ago

Kevin MeehanRules are rules, but it's still an interesting philosophical position, given that both freedom 'of' and 'from' religion are touted as being equally secular and of equal merrit, where it would be reasonable to expect that the arguments and reasoning in support of freedom 'from' religion be given equal opportunity, air time and consideration to those that support freedom 'of' religion.. Here, and often elsewhere - and perhaps for calculated, logistical or whatever other reasons - the 'from' arguments and reasoning are perhaps considered an inflamatory, or certainly an unecessary element, and where the 'of' arguments carry more favour and remain relatively immune from criticism.. This of course in no way undermines the intrinsic value of the reasoning and arguments that support a freedom 'from' religion point of view. In fact considering that it is both more holistic and predominantly evidence based in nature, it is surely a vital inclusion to any balanced, constructive, and perhaps most importantly, an informed debate when it comes to the teaching about - or the students indroctrination into - religion in schools, particularly when the option of improving science literacy and its superior unifying/uniting concepts is allowed at the table..8 hours ago

Greg DaleyThe proseletyzing of Evangelical christian doctrine doesn't even meet all christian requirements. Traditional anglicans, orthodox and catholic students have enough doctrinal differences that the emphasis placed by the most fundamental groups runs against the instruction they receive in their homes and churches. Scripture based groups should not claim broad support from the christian community, as they don't represent it.6 hours ago

Fairness In Religions In School

The Armour Of God is an authorised SRE lesson being taught in NSW primary schools (CEP Connect B2). "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" As is repeated so frequently throughout the SRE syllabus - SIN and EVIL are a real and present force in a kid's life, and they must learn to turn to God for the only solution. This is only one of the many examples we have to share. We are working through other cases with the DEC and other groups. At present, parents have no comprehension of how extensively their child will be instructed in the concept of personal sin in SRE. Instead they are only told about "values". https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LFM4-55sKms ... See MoreSee Less

The armor of God is an allegory as to how to stand up against evil and sin in our everyday life, this is one of my favorite teachings, and originally I creat...

1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolChildren are encouraged to become an army for God. Nigel Fortesque, in his SRE training presentation for CEP said the following - "In your roles in the schools, you are now preparing other people for works of service. Yes, they're little people, five, six, seven, up to twelve, maybe thirteen years old"1 day ago

Nigel FortescueI just love how you guys overstate reality with such dramatic urgency as if you have unearthed incredibly outrageous things that the CEP Syllabus teaches (note that the syllabus is freely available on the website; can be viewed by asking your Scripture teacher or purchased if you want). Personal sin was a reality taught by Jesus back in about 20AD. Given the tens of thousands of Christian parents who enrol their kids in SRE each year, your assertion that "parents have no comprehension of how extensively their child will be instructed" in it is completely false. Perhaps "a small proportion" might be better. Personal sin is a foundational, classic, normal, Christian, biblical teaching. Again, no real need for panic here.....1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolThanks Nigel Fortescue1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolKids are encouraged to be an army for Jesus in Christian SRE - to use all the parts of their bodies for Christ (which we have in another video). What if the Islamic SRE instructed kids to be an army for Allah? Should the DEC allow it? Or should they only allow Christianity to promote these messages to children?1 day ago

Heike ReichI think you are wrong Nigel. Lots of parents who enrol their kids in CRE are just told about the values and all that nice fluffy stuff. If this information were more readily available they may well have a different opinion on the program. I for one am grateful that FIRIS is making this information available to us.1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolHow do you think the Muslim community will react when we show them what Christian SRE is doing - and that they are not allowed to do the same thing?1 day ago

Kay Clarkepersonal sin at the age of 5?1 day ago

Stephen PearceMaybe these ideas and teaching are outrageous to some people? Nigel Fortescue, why do you seem to have an objection to transparency if this is all so benign? Your reactions seem ... well... an overreaction if there is nothing to hide? Could it be self interest because your "core business" is being questioned?1 day ago

Nigel FortescueYour question is invalid. We're talking about two different religions with their own teachings. You cannot compare language for language and concept for concept. I don't know Islam well enough to comment further. Perhaps others here do.1 day ago

Nigel FortescueStephen - feel free to come to my office any day and I'll run through the syllabus with you. We offer this to people all the time. No dramas. No objection to transparency here.1 day ago

John DicksonFace it, guys. You just don't like the stuff Christianity holds dear, and are troubled that kids might be exposed to it. That's fine. That's why I support a truly secular school environment, where confessional religion is neither imposed nor excluded. It's just an option.1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolThanks John Dickson1 day ago

Stephen PearceWell Nigel Fortescue if you are happy to show me at the office and you have No objection to transparency why do you care if its posted here?1 day ago

Nigel FortescueI don't. I just care that it's posted here with clearly incorrect and inflammatory commentary. It's unnecessary and some more basic research around simple tenets of the Christian faith would really help the FIRIS social media team.1 day ago

John DicksonHappily, after the book-banning fiasco the Department is surely a little more 'eyes wide open' about alarmist criticisms of SRE.1 day ago

Stephen PearceFred Nile and the Arch Bishop are the reason your book got "un-banned" not because the homophobic, shaming content is not there.1 day ago

Fred Pilcher1 day ago

Paul ShepanskiFairness In Religions In School, I find it difficult to understand your concern regarding lessons on sin. Surely, the core of Christian belief cannot be a surprise. The relevant wikipedia entry is freely available to all; one only needs to read the opening paragraph: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity Do you really think that the 60% or so of the Australian population who identify as Christian (2011 census) - and many others - don’t know this? Christians' belief that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins and then rose from the dead are celebrated here and around the world annually on Good Friday and Easter Sunday respectively. Why the shock/horror?1 day ago

Paul ShepanskiOn what basis do you say that parents are only told about values? See: https://www.cepstore.com.au/beginning-with-god-1-1 and https://www.cepstore.com.au/connect No subterfuge here!1 day ago

Stephen PearcePaul Shepanski is being an army for God today!1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolPaul Shepanski - in the overview for parents on the CONNECT website, it tells them that the teachings of the curriculum are: "Included in the curriculum are teachings on the key events of Easter and Christmas as well as special lessons dealing with major issues that children face, including self-esteem, loss, caring for the environment, and coping with change." Where is the SIN? Where is the call for using your body for Christ included? Why are these descriptions NOT included in the promotion to parents? THAT is our objection. We want honesty. We want transparency.1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolAnd parents are told this - "‘A’- Academically rigorous CEP school material uses best teaching practices, with each lesson containing a wealth of ideas and activities suitable for all teaching and learning styles.". So, how does the WILD BIBLE lessons stack up? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAjPwmfvg-c1 day ago

Polly Seidlerkids in our community do hear about sin outside of SRE when they hear the Christmas carol "Hark the Herald Angels sing" eg "Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled" (through the Prince of Peace, the newborn king). or consider the opening verses of "God rest ye merry gentlemen"... Let nothing you dismay Remember, Christ, our Saviour Was born on Christmas day To save us all from Satan's power When we were gone astray (ed another way to express sin) Does FIRIS want to ban singing of Christmas carols at state schools?1 day ago

Fairness In Religions In SchoolNo, we don't Polly Seidler1 day ago

Ryan JansenGuess we shouldn't teach kids about historical conflicts or even about our own military. I mean an army is inherently evil by definition right?1 day ago