All posts by Scott

Sydney Evangelical Curriculum pulled because of FIRIS report

Read the report that is causing chaos in NSW parachurch ministry in schools!

FIRIS recently released a report detailing the nature of the curriculum promoted by Generate Ministries and YouthWorks, who provide the majority of Special Religious Education (SRE).

In response, Generate and Youthworks have “axed” the curriculum.

Axing this curriculum in response to the FIRIS report, is like amputating a gangrenous appendage, in hope of saving the body.

The problem with this strategy is that the material being “axed” is not an appendage, it clearly reflects the core teachings and ideology of both Generate and Youthworks, which are set up to proselytise with “government endorsement”.

You: an introduction is core teaching of the Sydney Evangelical faith, and it is written by the movement’s most educated thinker: Dr Michael Jensen, son of the former Archbishop and leading Moore College Scholar.  Even Jensen himself says “A lot of the things ­mentioned in there are just ­orthodox Christian teachings”.

Rather than defend the curriculum and its place in public schools, the para-church strategy is to announce that it will no longer use it!

Ironically, when the Department took steps to suspend these same materials, due to concerns for student’s welfare, it resulted in a hysterical response from the Evangelical community, drawing comparisons to North Korea!


Now that FIRIS has released irrefutable documentation of the nature of this curriculum, the para-church groups have seen that accusing the Department of being “North Korea” isn’t going to work, so they have tried to conduct a controlled burn.

parachurch claims to be conducting a review and removing the materials at exactly same time as FIRIS report released!

parachurch claims to be conducting a review and removing the materials at exactly same time as FIRIS report released!

This report is long and detailed but it is vital for the public to understand that the Para-church groups using NSW schools are NOT able to shut down public analysis of these materials by claiming that they will no longer use them! 

The report concludes the texts are divisive, promote gender inequality and discrimination towards same-sex attracted and gender diverse students, students with a disability, chronic or terminal illness, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD).

And it finds that these texts have no place in Australian government schools and promote messages contrary to NSW Department of Education policies and educational best practices.

The report has been reviewed by senior professionals across the issues examined, including:

  • Georgie Harman, CEO, beyondblue
  • Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Managing Director Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, child and adolescent psychologist
  • Professor Marion Maddox, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations, Macquarie University
  • Fiona McCormack, CEO, Domestic Violence Victoria
  • Dr Cathy Byrne, religion sociologist, Southern Cross University
  • Justin Koonin, convenor, NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby
  • Sally Goldner, Executive Director, Transgender Victoria
  • Daniel Witthaus, CEO, National Institute for Challenging Homophobia in Education (NICHE)
  • Dr David Zyngier, Senior Lecturer, Department of Education, Monash University
  • Dr Naomi Priest, Fellow, ANU

This discussion WILL continue, both in the public sphere and with the Department.

Read the entire report here:

Download (PDF, 3.48MB)

An open letter to Sandy Grant: It is not OK to preach in Australian Schools

Reverend Sandy Grant
St Michaels Anglican Cathedral Wollongong
Corner of Church St and Market St
Wollongong NSW 2500,
+61 2 4228 9132

Dear Reverend Grant:

You have our condolences for the loss of your friend, Bronwyn Chin, who died as a result of long endurance of pancreatic cancer, but your sorrow over her death does not licence you to repeatedly fail to grasp why your policy agenda and FIRIS’s aims are in conflict.

Your letter in response to the public discussion of the CEP curriculum, was a masterpiece of “missing the point” – and given your intellect, is best understood as a deliberate attempt to misdirect people from the issues at hand.

The issue is not, as you suggest, that anyone wishes to argue that “suffering is not an opportunity for growth“, as you phrased it, the issue is that you have used her suffering as part of a curriculum in our state schools that is clearly using this example, as a rationale to promote a particular religious agenda.

It is also relevant that you want to do this in our schools as part of a programme of confessional religious instruction that segregates children according to their family’s religious opinions.

If your letter reflects your ability to listen and understand other’s suffering, or if it reflects the pastoral care you routinely give, I offer my condolences to your parishioners as well.

You seem to have a Jesus shaped blind spot in your conscience.

Sandy Grant wants to expose your children to Jesus.

Sandy Grant wants to expose your children to Jesus.

Let me offer you an observation:  The exibitionism you display around your religious convictions, and the outworking of these convictions in the lives of your fellow citizens as policy, has reached a point where you have run into our opposition (as well as the opposition of others).  We need to be very clear with you, that this conflict is one caused by your exhibitionism, and your refusal to respect the sensitivities and feelings of us, your neighbors.  It is your imposition of your religious beliefs into the private and personal lives of our families that has led to this conflict.

As a priest, you must be keenly aware that cancer claims the lives of people without regard to their religious belief, and sadly, claims the lives of people who are very young, or in the prime of health.  As a priest though, you are acting like the proverbial carpenter, who, because all he has is a hammer, considers every problem to look like a nail.


While it might feel reassuring for you to explain, and comfort your congregation by urging them to see cancer as a perfect reason to “focus on Jesus” – as you did at Ms. Chin’s very public funeral – I can sincerely assure you, that there are equally sincere people who would not welcome this message at their funeral, and your attempts to reframe this, as merely proposing that there is virtue in overcoming suffering, is simply dishonest.  This is manifestly NOT what you are proposing in this example.

Furthermore, the materials at issue, do not frame this in any sense as “your opinion, but instead they clearly assert the truth of a view that “cancer is the result of sin in the world”.

The fact that many view this kind of religious expression with contempt should not surprise anyone.

The way you served the Chin family at their funeral, and I’m sure, as a friend, is exemplary – but you have taken her death, and rolled it into a public school curriculum – administered under the laws of our state, and incumbent on the staff of our schools to oversee and administer.

You repeatedly fail to see why, what you presume to do in our schools , impacts on the lives of those, who for various reasons choose not to join your religious community.

You repeatedly mischaracterise these underlying issues:  as you did in your letter to the Australian.  This pattern rises to a level of willful deception on your part.

So let us be very clear:  because you blend your religious convictions and passions, with legislation and state school policy – we have come into direct conflict.

Were it not for these facts, you and I would not be addressing each other via the intermediary of the pages of the Australian.  Just as none of us protested your sermon at Ms. Chin’s funeral, if if were not for the fact that your views about cancer have been made into curriculum you present in our schools:  it would not be the subject of discussion.

If you were not imposing on our family, and indeed on all families who count themselves as part of the body of public education in Australia – we would not be discussing this- but because you seek to keep a policy in place that has the effect of dictating to my family – how my children are treated in their school there is a conflict.

Let us be very clear:  this issue is one that can be easily solved by your agreeing to conduct your ministry outside of the hours which my children are obligated to be present in school.  We resent having to excuse our children from a timeslot given to your instruction.  Why does it seem to strain your imagination to believe that your insistence that our state schools should uphold a practice that gives you access to conduct ministry – imposes on everyone in a way that is unwelcome? 

I would like to offer another observation – and this has to do with the overarching value of our system of public education, which you seem unconcerned with.

Ms. Chin, as the wife of someone employed by a parachurch group, sent her children to “Illawara Christian School” – and if Australian families who are Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or “none” – attend that school – they would be doing it under clear submission to the “religious confession” which is part of the charter of the Illawara Christian School. While I have every confidence that the people of Illawara Christian School mean no ill toward any of the other faiths, the school charter reads as a reminder of why we need “public education” and why our forefathers sought to create it.  We’ve overcome a past that is steeped in policy that is confessional, dogmatic and celebrates the imposition of “religious tests” for membership.

The beauty, and moral purpose of “public education” – is that it educates children as Australians – which is to say, it educates them, irrespective of, and without favour towards the religion of their family.  This formulation was (historically) reached over the direct protestations of your church, and those of other churches out of which our nation chose to form – in spite of its historic sectarian differences.

The innovation of public education which Australia can proudly claim as a first (ie ours is the first nation on earth to establish a system of free, compulsory and secular education) – is not hostile to your faith – it is your actions which are hostile to our system of education.

We believe that families can and should be trusted to attend to the religious formation of their children, and while a “market” for religious expression clearly exists in this country, none of these should be allowed to commandeer the system of public education – in whole or in part.

We have not “attacked” you or your chosen religion – we have decided to defend our system of public education against an increasingly aggressive and exhibitionist expression of your religion.

Perhaps this is your ultimate goal – to stand in the way of others interrogate them about their beliefs in hope that you’ll convince them of your views – if this is your goal, then let our efforts, bring adversity to you your agenda, and in so doing provide you an “opportunity for growth”.

I sincerely suggest that the sooner you experience this “growth” … the better off we all will be.

The Australian looks into Michael Jensen’s year 9 curriculum – and finds it wanting (your kids soul).

Download (PDF, 202KB)

Are you Experienced?

Are you Experienced?

How SRE’s apologists are against education about religions:

John Dickson and Michael Jensen swear on a stack of bibles that they believe SRE does not, and should not exist as a form of missionary work, wherein Christian Evangelists take the bible into schools and recruit children to follow their religion.

It is absurd of them to assert this, because it is abundantly clear that this is why religious groups, and especially evangelical ones, burn to prevent FIRIS from accomplishing what they call our “end game”.  Namely, to terminate the practice of granting access to “religious groups” to operate in our state schools (because they should not be using our schools as “mission fields” – schools are places of learning, not places of worship and not street corners to hurl threats of damnation at passers by.  We should expect what is taught in schools to submit to some standards).

SRE does not have any metrics like this, and its most ardent supporters don’t want it to – because they aren’t in schools to educate, they are there because they want to recruit.

Michael Jensen, especially is incandescent with rage because he sees FIRIS as “anti-religious”. Keep in mind that Michael Jensen is not some internet hack, he’s a respected Ph.D., scion of Sydney Anglican Royalty – and he’s constantly slandering FIRIS as “anti-religion” – he knows it isn’t true, but it fits his narrative of persecution.

John Dickson, however has a more nuanced way to slime FIRIS.  His claim is that we don’t want people to “believe religion”!

I want to drill down on Dickson’s claims and show how this agenda is not educational at all: that his goals, while coated in elaborate and often original euphemism, have only one meaning. John wants dedicated and protected space to have people “experience his religion” inside the schools. To be clear, this is what John should be doing – he is after all a priest – he’s sworn to go out and bring people into his faith. It is just much easier if he’s given the schools as a venue to do this. He’s not content to live in a society where people are free to come to him; he wants a world where the Minister for Education lets him come into the schools, and then indicate if you want “opt out” of the time slot he’s been assigned.



Here is one of FIRIS’s intellectually adept voices, Andrew Glover, stepping in to push back:


John’s response is to claim that few people accuse FIRIS of wanting to get rid of religion (despite that Michael Jensen just said that is what we are about), John wants to defend the idea that FIRIS is against “believed-religion” – he says we “despise believed-religion”.

So you have Michael Jensen claiming we “hate religion” (untrue) and Dickson claiming that we despise something he called “believed-religion”.

This is breathtaking dishonesty (on both counts), given that high profile religious leaders routinely make FIRIS’s case. What John Dickson wants to do is act in the role of “confessor” and define a category of “religion” that he arbitrates, so he can accuse FIRIS of being against it!

John then makes another move. He claims, in effect, that treating religion as something which can be “studied” (ie as a school subject that is non confessional in nature), is a form of attacking religion (despising it), as it is tantamount to killing the living thing!

To carry this analogy further, into the educational realm, if we can have “botany”, we must despise living plants. Because to systematise and classify, and catalog in drawers – the plants turns them into “museum pieces” instead of living things.




Beneath this claim is a disdain and contempt for learning that should strike horror into anyone who values education and knowledge, as a source of human understanding and advancement. John’s proposition is that learning in a systematised, objective, mutually understandable and repeatable, content-driven fashion, is hostile to something he’s in favour of: something that in his formulation can be defined as something that “ignites a worldview”.

What does it mean to “ignite a worldview”? I put to you that this is dressed up way to say “saved” or “converted” .

Andrew Glover’s response was exemplary:


One of the key reasons why SRE deserves to be kicked out of the classroom is that NO ONE will tell you if you’ve learned the material or not, because the only metric that they care about is one that can’t be measured by mankind:  salvation. The goal of SRE instructors (evangelical ones at least) is “salvation from eternal punishment for not believing“.

This is what John’s proposing: to sort those who believe from those who don’t.

John Dickson wants us to avoid that truth, by dancing around with lots of euphemisms; watch him respond to Glover’s intellectual checkmate, by reaching for “heritage and culture” – his “go-to” cover story.  What he seems to miss is that our “culture” deliberately has moved beyond “our heritage”: why does SRE fullfill John’s demands – why not demand that we take all children to mass on Sunday, as was done in yesteryear?  Why does John not demand that girls be made to experience the domestic arts to experience “their heritage”? Because that would make John Dickson look like a fool. But as long as he keeps this argument vague enough, it’s a con he can put over on us, largely because of a reserve of goodwill and deference that most decent people afford piety.


It isn’t that John is wrong about what he’s saying here. It’s OK for him see religion as something that you do, not something that you “learn about” or “study”, just as it’s OK to be someone who loves plants so much that you can’t stand to see them studied in a systematic way. But this kind of passion is not a qualification for teaching in a school, and in fact it is fair to say that it is hostile to a classical understanding of education.

We should not set up schools built on the liberal arts and on secular foundations and then have priests come in and “do religion” in them, any more than we should have botany instruction that is only given though the lens of “aboriginal knowledge of plants”. Such an education would not be a serious education, just as SRE is not a serious education: it’s there to give evangelists something to do, some people to convert.

SRE is really about the need for the instructors to appeal to students with their passion – more so that something that is there for the students to be educated in any way that we can speak of in a sense of being informed or educated.

John Dickson has no interest in people who are educated about Christianity – he is only interested in having people become Christians, and from his comments it is clear that all his claims about the importance of understanding the bible as means to know about art, literature and culture are hollow.

John compares religion to sport or dance – or music, but the vast majority of us watch and passively consume these things, and in order to understand a footy game, you need to know who the teams are, and the rule; people who cannot move their legs can enjoy footy.  There is no need at all for me to pole vault to watch the Olympics, and my enjoyment of the sport is not diminished by knowing that the games have ancient origins.

Johns arguments are completely self-serving and invasive and anti-educational. Religion, in John’s formulation, is more like sexual intercorse than music, because he feels that it can’t be really appreciated without doing it. It has to be personally felt to qualify as being something you can claim to “know” in the biblical sense (pun intended).

John is really claiming that unless he is allowed to get naked with you, that you really haven’t had the experience he thinks you need.  John Dickson wants to go into the schools and have you “do religion” … not just learn about it.  He wants to know “are you experienced” …

He takes it even further, and argues that our advocacy that all children should learn “about religions” in an educationally valid way, is to despise religion.

John’s intentions are euphemistically worded, but it means the same thing: “Let me have a go”.









Read the report showing that A Current Affair did not vilify religion

Download (PDF, 467KB)

Persecution Complex – The Passion of Mark Powell


The controversy over “Gayby Baby” is part of a paranoid persecution complex led by a few anti gay clergy.

It is abundantly clear that Reverend Powell is fighting a culture war, because in his mind, “acceptance” (of homosexuality) leads to persecution (of him)”.
Reverend Powell argues that he believes his right to “oppose homosexuality” is threatened.

“Opposition” for Reverend Powell, is not a private act of non participation, or personally being allowed to refrain from same sex relations, it means at some level, that he wants to see policies in place that have the effect of suppressing or limiting the kinds of things that other people are allowed to do. In this case specifically, it means that he doesn’t want the principal at Burwood High to show “Gayby Baby”, and he doesn’t want “Wear Purple Day”.

What Reverend Powell doesn’t seem to fully understand that after he exercises his freedom to oppose something, that other people can exercise their freedoms to point out that his views are absurd and uncharitable, and ridicule him for his views. Not listening to him, and laughing at him, is not a form of “persecution”. Mocking what he says is not limiting his freedoms.

What’s more, he doesn’t seem to understand that by refusing to make his religious opinions into laws, his religious freedom, is not being imposed upon.
Have a look at some of the back and forth between this religious leader, who, remember, is not merely speaking in his capacity as private citizen, but one who holds several positions of public trust. First, he’s the leader of a congregation, a position that society vests some intrinsic respect for, and second, he chairs the “school scripture board” for “Generate Ministries”. In his post, he is falsely claiming that walking under a “rainbow flag” imposes on his “religious freedom”. Is this at all true? No.


So here we have the pastor of a congregation urging his congregation to take political action against the local school over their support of rainbow families.
The person in the exchange below, Josh Lum Mow, works as a “youth pastor” at his church, just in case anyone be confused as to the extent of the outrage among people not affiliated with Mark Powell’s church. They then discuss how to find parents to front this issue for them! No mention of the heaps and heaps of crying families who have supposedly put him up to this!

Interestingly Josh Lum Mow, seems to see how the film itself has educational value – but his boss Revend Powell has him focus on the coercion and peer pressure which follows from the event like nature of “celebrating” equality.

josh mow

Reverend Powell, then shifts to talk about how the bible speaks to his act of resistance against “wearing purple”!

Trigger Warning: Short Bible Lesson discussing being tossed into fire, and other old testament themes

Unpacking the story of Daniel 3, helps us understand how Reverend Powell is thinking about what is going on.

In this story from the Torah, Daniel’s companions Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refuse to bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue and are thrown into a fiery furnace by the angry king. The three followers of the God of Israel, however, are unharmed, because God not only protects them, he sends an angel to make sure that the King knows to respect his authority!

The appearance of the The angel, causes Nebuchadnezzar to institute some sweeping policy reforms in the Kingdom! He calls the three to come out of the fire, and blesses the God of Israel, and then passes a law that anyone who blasphemes against his new God should be torn limb from limb. (emphasis in the original).

So, while we’re still along way off from living in a constitutional democracy in terms of a governance model, you get the point. Reverend Powell feels that he’s like Shadrach, and the majority of Australians (who support equality for gay people) are like the despotic King Nebuchadnezzar!

Does everyone follow that?

This is an example of using the bible to convince yourself that being unpopular with your fellow citizens, is not being anti social, it is being virtuous! Because in Reverend Powell’s mind, despots (like the Rainbow Flag worshipers), need to be resisted.

Disregard what Carrie Bickmore says, if you have enough faith, God will show up to save you – from tyranny.

By understanding how Reverend Powell sees this issue, we can better understand how he isn’t open to persuasion, in his mind, his “opposition to homosexuality” is a sign that he loves God – and if that means walking into a furnace (or appearing on the Project oppose an “openly” gay MP), well so be it – it’s his ticket to greatness in God’s eyes.


Another Presbyterian Minister, Michael Prodigalidad (what a name!), slaps him on the back!  Yes, I’m preaching on this too, he chimes!


The religious nature of the opposition, however, really gets going when Carl Grande, yet another Minister, invokes Noah, saying to the effect, that it is hopeless, all they can do is, (wait for it), set up prayer groups “in schools” … and wait for Jesus to return – apparently this will really show these gayby babies a thing or two about who is king!

The best part of the conversation comes, though when a retired member of the congregation suggests that perhaps instead of just waiting for Jesus to return, that they “try to get the islamic community involved”. Take a second and wait for the cynicism of that strategy to wash over you.

Rainbow families, in this case are seen as a common enemy around which Islam and Christianity can find common purpose. The mind reels.

However, this plan to go find allies in the Islamic Community has one major flaw! There are no Mosques in Castle Hill!





Sadly, though, there is one problem!  Reverend Powell laments that “the islamic community is fragmented and lacks a spokesman!” (ya think?)

It is really hard to imagine a more cynical and craven plot, than to hope that another persecuted minority group in AustraliaSadly, though, there is one problem!  Reverend Powell laments that “the islamic community is fragmented and lacks a spokesman!” (ya think?)

It is really hard to imagine a more cynical and craven plot, than to hope that another persecuted minority group in Australia, can be used as cannon fodder in your war against the rainbow menace!

The question that citizens in NSW should be asking is why we have a system in place which grants a person so addled by his religious persecution complex a franchise to teach these same views in our State Schools? Does Reverend Mark Powell evince the kind of thinking that would lead him to teach religion well or badly? From what he’s shown here, it sure looks as though he uses his position of pastoral care over others to incite them to view the bible as guiding them to oppose gay people – and rather than be led toward compassion, his reading of the bible is that everyone is out to get him.

NSW schools would be better off without a system that incentivised clergy, like Mark Powell, who use the bible to justify their sense of feeling persecuted, to hold court in our education system, after all, we don’t want to use the schools as platforms for political agendas … do we?

In this last the pastoral care offered by Reverend Powell, is to encourage his followers to console themselves by reading the writings published by a leading conservative American think tank, whom the Australian Christian Lobby recently brought to Australia! It seems to escape the Reverend to also recommend the writing of other leading conservative thinkers, like Ted Olson who defend gay marriage. For Reverend Powell, it seems that hearing both sides of the debate only means listening to what he has to say.

But then, when you imagine yourself in a fiery furnace, it helps to know you have God on your side., can be used as cannon fodder in your war against the rainbow menace!

The question that citizens in NSW should be asking is why we have a system in place which grants a person so addled by his religious persecution complex a franchise to teach these same views in our State Schools?  Does Reverend Mark Powell evince the kind of thinking that would lead him to teach religion well or badly?  From what he’s shown here, it sure looks as though he uses his position of pastoral care over others to incite them to view the bible as guiding them to oppose gay people – and rather than be led toward compassion, his reading of the bible is that everyone is out to get him.

NSW schools would be better off without a system that incentivised clergy, like Mark Powell, who use the bible to justify their sense of feeling persecuted, to hold court in our education system, after all, we don’t want to use the schools as platforms for political agendas … do we?

In this last the pastoral care offered by Reverend Powell, is to encourage his followers to console themselves by reading the writings published by a leading conservative American think tank, whom the Australian Christian Lobby recently brought to Australia!    It seems to escape the Reverend to also recommend the writing of other leading conservative thinkers, like Ted Olson who defend gay marriage.  For Reverend Powell, it seems that hearing both sides of the debate only means listening to what he has to say.

But then, when you imagine yourself in a fiery furnace, it helps to know you have God on your side.



NSW Parliament hears Good News Beads Lesson – thanks FIRIS!

On 25 August 2015, Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong delivered a Private Members Statement regarding special religious education in NSW schools.

The statement included the Bible Society of Australia’s “Good News Beads” Lesson.

What is important about this example is that people who have the evidence usually win.

In this debate there are two sides.  Our side that says we should not have programmes designed to invite people who are running missionary programmes to evangelise for their religion into primary schools and the other who claim that “unless we have these programmes that our children won’t understand Shakespeare” (or some version of that).

Here is the good news bead lesson in case you too want to wave this in the face of the next idiot well meaning SRE apologist, who tries to tell you that SRE is not about proselytising!

Thank you Jenny Leong you’re compliments of us are appreciated and noted.  We urge parliamentarians in NSW to learn how to argue back when faced with the bankrupt, dishonest and self serving nonsense that keeps getting squirted at people who say that this stuff doesn’t belong in NSW schools!

The only reason that SRE exists is because of what you read right here – no more, no less:

Download (PDF, 2.87MB)


Shall we ask the Natives what they think?

The NSW Department of Education has a huge problem on its hands.  One that FIRIS will be focusing on as we shift our focus to NSW as the next front in the campaign to reform SRI/SRE policy in Australian Schools.

According to John Dickson, an energetic spokesperson fronting the rapidly contracting”SRE” franchise, one of the reasons that parents in NSW simply don’t have a distaste for the groups that use NSW schools to proselytise, is that NSW is a more “religious state”.


native distaste

Rev. Dickson believes that SRE is also better funded than the program in VIC.

FIRIS does not see this as a problem (just ask Moore College Alum, Stephen Hale, how money helps in this fight) – but rather a case of the “harder the come, the harder they fall”. One of the beautiful things about the FIRIS campaign is that it’s objective and fact-based. We can know and measure our progress.

One of the key things the FIRIS campaign does is to pull back the veil of euphemism that helps obscure from parents what is actually going on in with the groups running these programmes.

FIRIS has found that once parents are told the truth, and once the policy of coercion that props up this whole charade is exposed, the local sentiment is pretty rapid to voice its “distaste”.

Let’s have a look at one example at the kind of programmes running in NSW that turn our state schools into venues for child evangelists.


Meet “Rick George” from the Bible Society:




Here is his “show”, and note that Rick uses clear language about what his goals are:


So what do you think? Is this group in the schools to teach or to proselytise?

Does the larger war chest of the evangelical players in NSW mean that they’ll fight us off?

Or is Dickson right and unlike in Victoria, where this stuff was seen for what it is (i.e. child evangelism), is NSW a place where this is welcome in State schools?

Stay tuned … FIRIS thinks that parents in NSW are every bit as outraged that “Scripture” has become a venue for child evangelism and Hillsong happy clappers.

We think that NSW schools aren’t the place for this.  What do you think?  Leave a comment & sign up for the campaign to put SRE where it belongs, back in the church assembly halls and Sunday School timeslot!

Parents in NSW, are you really that different from the parents in Victoria?  We aim to find out.

Will the real Barney Zwartz please stand up?

barney thenBarney, your recent statement that you “regret” that the Department of Education has removed SRI, is a real shock to your old self, the one in 2011 who wrote this:

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?


Brett Lee-Price’s priceless performance on 7 news!

The most energetic defenders of SRE are strident evangelicals who when given the chance to speak out about their beliefs and their motives … they are mute, or they make up a cover story.

The fantastic irony is that they also complain that they are oppressed and are being hounded out of the “public square”.

We were delighted to learn that Mr. Lee-Price came to the launch of the FIRIS billboard!

brett lee price TV2

but we were saddened that when given the microphone by the TV 7 crew that he refused to comment!

I have no comment for the media

Brett Lee-Price:  I have no comment

The irony is that, Mr. Brett Lee-Price, does have a lot to say … we know because he’s among the most vocal and retweeted SRE advocates in NSW.

brett lee price TV

and he blogs regularly about FIRIS and our lack of understanding.

Mr. Lee-Price writes on his website that, he feels “Christians are discouraged from public discourse if they mention just two words, God or Jesus”.

However, when Mr. Lee-Price was being invited to have “public discourse” he chose to refuse to say anything at all!

This is a shame because the public deserves to understand this issue.  The public also needs to understand that SRE advocates seem to not want to tell the 7 News, as stated on his website, that he has a “deep desire to see Christians evangelizing and modelling the Gospel to those who are unsaved. We have a passion to see individuals repent and believe unto Him. We too, like God, desire to see all to come to repentance and be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9).”

No one was preventing him from saying exactly that when asked by the media, “what do you think”?  But instead, he said nothing.

Our question is why?

Why do SRE’s passionate defenders say such plainly worded things on their websites, but then demurre when asked this in a public forum?

Is it because they are being oppressed?  Is it because other people, have opinions about the proper limits of what should be happening in a public school classroom, and what is, at the end of the day, a deeply intrusive form of pestering other people with your religious feelings?

The relevant question of course is “why do you need legislation to see all come to repentance and be saved”?  Because from where FIRIS sits, it sure seems like that is what you are aiming to do (to our children).

Mr. Lee-Price seems to imagine that he’s being silenced, but here he’s chosen to avoid contributing to the “public discourse”, by simply stating what his “deep desires are”, and we’re the one’s being asked to remove our kids from their classrooms while he acts out his “deep desires”.

Let’s be clear.  One side in this public discourse are clearly not willing to engage in debate, or when they do, they spin what anyone can plainly see are their evangelical and missionary motivations.  The public does not dislike this because of any hostility to God or Jesus, but because what this has nothing to do with education.

Mr. Lee-Price – no one was taping your mouth shut … you had the chance to say what your “deep desires” are on TV news … but you didn’t?

That is a problem because if you want to have our respect you can’t be avoiding being honest with us or the media.

The people behind this system, like Mr. Lee-Price, moan about how oppressed they are, and when asked, they have “no comment” or they tell us a calculated story that sounds nothing like their true intent which is to see our children saved.

Thanks for coming to the FIRIS event, next time, please, try telling us what you think, we’re sure the public would benefit from knowing.