Recently, a Bayside pastor named Rob Buckingham, grumbled on line about the vote by Parents Victoria to move SRI outside of the school curriculum.
Rob’s argument for SRI is that getting rid of it is “anti Christian”, however, in the comments below his argument, he got a reply from a Martin J Cowling, which is worth re posting here. Many people, including many highly educated Christians, agree with Martin, for instance the Chaplain at Melbourne Grammar, Ron Noone, who has used the term “inoculation” to describe how the present “SRI” program does more harm than good as far as promoting Christianity.
Its a shame that the Churches in Victoria are more interested in the power and authority that comes from being granted a right by the State Legislature to run “Ministry in Schools”.
I recognise that many of the families who support FIRIS are ones who are consciously non religious, but I’d like to echo Martin Cowling’s views that people who are religious can be equally vocal in their opposition to what is being done to our kids by self serving child evangelists. If anyone knows how to invite Martin J Cowling to help FIRIS, please do so and thank him for speaking up:
I was going to reply privately but I thought what the heck. I am an ex RE teacher over many years – and I believe I was a very good one but I have some questions about SRE.
Has the Church ever examined the real effectiveness of what was taught? Of the millions of Aussie school kids who have been exposed to 100s of hours of RE teaching why are they not all Christians? Because I believe you cannot teach Christianity.Its a relationship. I accept that I may have sowed many seeds but I also wonder how much RE has inoculated people against the Gospel?? of the friends of mine from my school that became Christians, not one did because of RE. They did it because of the witness of peers.
The real test is the grace and dignity with how Christians approach the reality of the secular world we live in. The reality is that schools and parents do not see the value add of RE. Worse they see Christian behaviour that is appalling. They see and hear the news about the many Churches have been responsible for harm to children. Christians are seen as unloving, not united, not accepting and deceptive. Not a good list and for good reason I can see why people dom not want to see us in their kid;s classrooms.
We can act like petulant children and demand that we be kept in the curriculum but what will our effectiveness be when we are acting as an unwanted guest?
The real questions for Christians are How do we witness in a secular world? What value add can we give schools? How can we Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us? How can we show we are loving of God and humans.
If we get that right, I think the loss of Christian RE from schools will not be that significant.
Hope you dont mind the alternative viewpoint here.