(Editor’s note:  sure we are happy to air the views of ACCESS Ministries supporters.  It isn’t clear this author draws any distinction between GRE and SRI nor is it clear that she can distinguish between truth and fiction in history.  It is also interesting to note that she advocates teaching history in a way that teaches any wrong doing can not be attributed to the logical outworking of religious ideas – but to an error in the understanding or the religious ideas.  The author does not indicate if she is one of the thousands of people allowed to use the schools to conduct teaching with approval of ACCESS Ministry, a note from her pastor, and six hours of training … )

Dear Opponents of SRI,

Please consider the following logically and caringly:

CRI should be available within the curriculum to all children in our Government schools. There should be a constantly updated, appealing syllabus with colourful, age-related workbooks, worksheets or set tasks, and much clear explanation and discussion. There need not be weekly, nor not necessarily 30-minute periods, so long as the very best, non-prosyletising, constantly monitored teachers are taking the classes, and the most schools possible are covered. Ideally it should be provided at least till Year 8 level so adolescents retain its culture-contributing knowledge and love-your-neighbour values into adulthood to facilitate further seeking an attachment should they so wish.

The Christian religion needs to be introduced objectively to classes (and at parents’ evenings and in explanatory documentation) within its essential context of how vital and enduring religious faiths have been to human individuals and nations world-wide throughout time. We should retain the Judaeo-Christian religion as the centre of the course because it is the Australian nation’s principal heritage, and that of our main migrant populations, and it underpins our humane values, ethics, and law, and our ancient mythology for nearly 4,000 years. Nevertheless the syllabus should provide for regular objective, respectful description and discussion concerning all other religions.

The course should be run by an independent Government-approved body like Access Ministries, with constant monitoring by impartial education authorities, as well as Biblical experts, including from the Christian Church denominations, but not regulated nor financed by them. Other religions’ authorities need to ensure content concerning their practices and beliefs is correct. Emphasis should be on the original teachings, philosophies, texts and earliest spread of the faiths, and their most inspired followers and practitioners through history. At upper levels the syllabus may include how nominal Christian individuals (rulers, etc.) and/or institutions (sects, etc.) have sometimes contravened Christ’s equitable, compassionate teachings causing wars, the Inquisition, massive expenditure on riches, etc.

After all, we teach politics, history and civics to our students so they will not be totally ignorant as adults. We do not omit slavery, mercenary armies, capital punishment, communism, capitalism, fascism, etc., just because we personally may not approve of them and fear our children might become advocates!  Yet these courses do absolutely centre on informing students in greatest detail about democratic government, and our laws and legal systems, and imply how lucky we are in having these.

We teach music, art, drama and literature, and about the most revered people from these fields, again with a definite majority content of our Western Civilization’s cultures. We take pupils to concerts, theatre, galleries, etc., all of which are rich in Christian reference, about which students need to understand the background for full appreciation. Why not excursions to churches for Christmas pageants, etc.? Most or all the course components  mentioned in the last two paragraphs have much shorter histories than, yet were influenced by, the Judaeo-Christian faith.

If any legal action is to be taken, perhaps it would be better if it aimed to alter the Act so that it removed the ban on professional teachers instructing in the areas of faith. There are many Christian and non-Christian teachers who would be glad to opt in for teaching SRI. It is inconsistent, even illogical that, according to the law, a teacher may be a passionate protagonist or opponent of any political persuasion and yet may teach about it, thus very likely influencing pupils’ opinions, and yet the same freedom is not permitted in religious education.

Surely, in our materialistic, rushing, competitive, self-seeking world, young people deserve to learn about such common, relevant facets as:
the tender, humble family-togetherness, and the love-filled gift-giving, which are the central focus of the first Christmas–Matthew 1 & 2;
the origin of the practical, common-sensical (now universal) time-division of the 7-day week for work and rest–Genesis 1 & 2;
the earliest documented delegation for, and giving of international food-aid in times of severe drought–Genesis 41 & 42;
and that great self-esteem building dictum: love your neighbour as you love yourself–Matthew 19.