This battle (over SRI) is one the advocates of what is called special religious instruction are doomed to lose, because the high ground belongs to their opponents.
Back then while you were clearly predicting today’s victory by FIRIS, you were also very clear that:
… the volunteer system is no longer adequate. Some Christians are unhappy with it, and want a more pluralistic version that could include non-religious ethics. It is in everyone’s interest to have a religiously and ethically literate society. What is needed is a formal course taught by trained teachers, introducing students to the various religions and non-religious ethical theories but advocating none, probably as part of the proposed national curriculum. The problem with the current system is not only that it is haphazard in whom it reaches, but that it teaches only one religion and is open to abuse. Victorian volunteers are explicitly instructed that they must not proselytise, but it seems some do — although this problem, again anecdotally, is far worse in NSW and Queensland.
Today however, all you seem to find is some kind of sadness, for the very thing you once were happy to see replaced!
I regret that it (the policy change by the Education Department) comes at the expense of Special Religious Instruction (SRI), which is being dropped from class time to lunch time or before or after school. This will obviously see a change in how classes work or a drop in numbers.
The classes have not been banned, and opportunities remain. It is simply a fact of life that Christianity is now one of many voices shaping the nation. Christians are having to adapt to the loss of the influence we once took for granted – it may be painful, but it is good for us. It should help us to be more authentic.
Furthermore, your 2011 self was quite clear that you did not just sympathise with the argument that children should not be automatically enrolled in SRI, you were quite clear that you were willing to admit that the current system was “open to abuse” and “was no longer adequate”.
Today however your boss, John Dickson, wrote to “lament” the loss of SRI in Victoria.
So which is more authentic? The Barney Zwartz writing for THE AGE in 2011 or the Barney Zwartz who works for John Dickson at the Centre for Public Christianity, who writes today to “regret” that the Minister of Education seems to have done exactly what the 2011 Barney Zwartz advocated?