Christians pray for VCAT ruling
The group of three parents, including Ivanhoe mother Sophie Aitken, argued in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last week their children were being discriminated against on the grounds of religious belief.
Lawyer Melinda Richards said the children, whose parents had opted them out of Special Religious Instruction, didn’t receive proper class instruction for half an hour every week. Instead, they were required to engage in silent reading or revision, which she said wasn’t comparable in value to teaching.
Ms Richards also argued the children had been divided by their peers on the basis of religion at a young age, leading them to feel singled out and be identified by their parents’ religious beliefs.
“It is not a trivial matter for children to be segregated from their peers on a religious basis in a secular school. It is a serious matter,” she said.
Earlier this month, Access Ministries, which provides the classes, sent a letter to its supporters asking them to pray “Judge Tim Ginnane will have great wisdom and insight as he hears the case; God will overrule and the case against the department will be unfounded; that SRI will continue in schools unchanged”.
Ms Aitken, whose children attend Ivanhoe East Primary, claimed her children had been identified as “atheists” and “different” from a young age.
She said she would prefer her children, instead of engaging in silent reading, be instructed in a class on secular ethics and values.
The case has been adjourned, and Justice Ginnane has not nominated when he will deliver his ruling.