Here is the shocking submission of the NSW Jewish Education board to the committee to investigate repealing ethics, which shows that once religious groups are given a mandate by government to use the executive authority of government, that they will put their own self interest above the interest of the common good – and they do not trust that families can make responsible choices:
it contains a number of shocking statements but the last paragraph has to be unquestionable proof of why the Government should not entangle itself with groups who propose to “represent ______________________ (insert a religion here)”.
Jewish families are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves what is right for THEIR children – Jews live in countries all around the world where the government does not engage in the practice of designating or segregating children by their religion. The practice of SRI/SRE clearly obligates the schools to make an issue of different religious identities (which for many families is a deeply personal and private matter) and there is absolutely no reason why this group should be thought of as having any authority to circumvent the core values of our democracy which hold, among other things that religious identity should not lead to differential treatment by public institutions.
However in NSW – the Jewish Education Board, who operate under the same government franchise to conduct SRE as Campus Crusade for Christ does – are submitting statements to the government telling it what it wants them to do to other people’s children – as if they have some representative authority over those children, and they are doing this from a position of a clear conflict of interest: namely they are the ones conducting the SRE in the first place.
According to this submission, IDENTIFYING Jewish children need not even happen per the choice of the families in question, children can simply be “generally known to be Jewish”. The mind reels.
Here are a few of their comments:
any child whose religion has been designated as Jewish or is otherwise
known to the relevant school or DET generally as being Jewish, , who
is or becomes enrolled in a government school, should not be offered
the opportunity to participate in the Ethics Course or any derivative
thereof, without the prior and unsolicited written request of that child’s
parent or guardian.”
furthermore, the unelected people who are speaking “for the Jews” have more insight into the lack of capacity that Jewish families possess to make decisions:
… we stress that such participation should not be offered as an equally available and
attractive “alternative” to those children of minority and vulnerable religious
and/or ethnic backgrounds who are wanting, or who need to be encouraged, to
learn about, and be made aware.of, the merits and value of their own heritage and
culture. The consequence of any decision to opt into a secular Ethics
. Course at the expense of attending SRE instruction, made by a Jewish child
who may be too immature to appreciate adequately the essential and long term
value to him or her of what Jewish SRE programmes are offering, or who may
feel subjected to peer pressure to “conform” to the majority norm, will be a
permanent and material detriment to that child, his or her immediate family
and the Jewish community at large.
It is unfortunate that families who do not agree with the so called “official Jewish” view of things, do not see the need to speak up more forcefully about the fact that they are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves how they wish to be treated in THEIR schools, and how for many this means being treated with complete equality.