By now news of the Access Ministries rally to prop up support for the failing and controversial system of SRI in Victoria has reached FIRIS supporters across Victoria. It is natural for them to ask, “shall we stage a counter rally”?
Given the vitrol, dissembling and scare tactics that ACCESS has chosen to use for its self serving ends, it is tempting to fight fire with fire, however, the FIRIS campaign is not about shouting in the street and us vs. them.
The FIRIS campaign is, above all a set of principles. It is our aims that make us powerful, not our willingness to shout at CRE volunteers. The sad fact is that the leaders of ACCESS have betrayed the volunteers long ago, by turning them into missionaries, rather than educators.
The leaders of ACCESS have betrayed the trust of our schools and boldly declared that they view our children as subjects to be “discipled”.
We are parents who above all resent being forced, yes forced, to argue about religion in our kids schools, because an activist group of increasingly militant and increasingly aggressive evangelicals declare that our schools are “mission fields”.
So, no, there will be no counter rally.
The reason ACCESS is holding this rally is to prop up the morale of a group who are divided, many ACCESS volunteers do not subscribe to the narrow agenda of the leaders, many ACCESS volunteers agree with FIRIS, and emphasize compassion and respect for their neighbors. So shouting only takes away from our position, which everyone knows, occupies the high ground.
We are advocating for good RE taught the same way all school subjects are taught. We are making a principled, sustained and reasoned argument, all across Victoria, families are talking about this issue and change is in the air.
So, while it is always dark before dawn, be aware that the efforts by ACCESS to write off, ignore and twist, the sincere concerns of parents, of clergy and of teachers is simply an indication that the wheels are coming off.
We are grateful that so many of you want to rally back, but we appreciate your restraint and commitment to principle. This is not a matter for who can shout louder. ACCESS knows they are on the losing side of a policy debate for which their only support arises from emotion and passion, not reason or fairness. The latter will out, and everyone knows it.
Though it is too early to celebrate, there will be events to turn out and support the push for change. You’ll hear about it when this happens.