Encouraging religion to "beget" off!
Reposted from my comment at Keep Religion Out Of School (NZ):
What would you think if once a week each New Zealand hospital was declared “closed” for half-an-hour while a group of preachers came in and lectured to the patients?
The doctors and nurses had to stand around not working for that time.
Any patient who did not like it was expected to leave their ward and sit it out in the waiting area. Opting-out patients were not allowed to receive medication or any other treatment during that time because the hospital was “closed”. If they complained, they would be told they should have gone to a private hospital instead.
That is exactly the same as what is happening in our schools today.
Religion has hit the headlines on Auckland’s North Shore. First there was this article on the front page of the North Shore Times on April 20, 2012 – Bible classes get a bash – which highlighted how parents of public school children say they are effectively being punished for opting out of religious classes.
Then there was a follow-up story on May 3, also front page – Religion or nothing – which describes how parents are questioning the legality of religious classes in public primary schools.
Of course this has prompted howls of outrage from the religious lobby about how it is intolerant of the non-religious to criticise religion. They use the time-worn kludge of conflating criticism of an idea with intolerance of any person holding that idea. They even throw up the “Christian nation” argument.
Letters to the editor (free registration required for these links) had comments like:
“As our nation was founded historically on the Bible in our negotiations with Maori and we have come forth from a Christian European background, it is a suitable reference for the children whose parents agree to the programme and a gift to those parents who want to show tolerance to other beliefs.” – Kaye Gilbert – Letters, April 26 2012
“Funny how religion is so often accused of intolerance and yet so often the victim of it.” – Martyn Pearson – Letters, May 1 2012
“…to ditch our Judeo-Christian heritage because we are living in a multi-cultural society is not the way forward. We do not expect the many immigrants who enter this country to renounce their beliefs. Instead we protect their right to religious freedom.” – Ann Bailey – Letters, May 1 2012
To counter these sort of silly arguments I have created a resource to parents – What is wrong with Bible Class in school?
It is in a pamphlet format in case anyone wants to distribute it to others in a convenient way. As I always mention – when printing, print double-sided and if your printer can do it for you set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.
It is a companion to my earlier resource, 10 Easy Things You Can Do To Keep Religion Out Of NZ Schools.
My dad died in August this year after a long illness, and as a result I was off work that day. By chance (?) some JW’s came to my door to evangelise.
Normally I would see them off with a well considered “Fuck Off!”, or engage them in strong argument. But I was not in the mood, and told them that they had picked a bad day, that my dad had just died, and I was not interested in talking to them.
Quick as anything, one of them asked me if I wanted to hear how I could be with him forever later on in heaven! The sheer offensive arrogance of the guy still has me shaking my head. I told him I was an atheist, did not believe in any of that stuff, and shut the door.
He was so lucky. If he had called on me any other day I would have torn his whole belief system to pieces. And I would likely have found out his home address so I could “atheise” him on his own doorstep!!!!
Recently Peter Harrison created a new Facebook group called Keep Religion out of School (NZ). This push is long overdue.
Far better than allowing christian religious indoctrination as is the case now, it would be preferable to have an primary ethics course, as is run in New South Wales. Take a look at their curriculum – it’s very well designed to engage students. Topics include Fairness; Lying and Telling the Truth; Children’s Rights; and Thinking about Animals. In Australia, this course has proven to be very popular.
The time has come for some push-back, to get change happening to New Zealand school RI. To support the effort I created a list of 10 Easy Things You Can Do To Keep Religion Out Of NZ Schools. As usual, when printing, print double-sided and if your printer can do it for you set it to flip on the short edge. Then fold in the traditional way.
It is relatively easy to get up to speed on this topic. For more information see the following:
Every five years Statistics New Zealand takes an official count of the population and dwellings in New Zealand, which includes a question on “Religious Affiliation”. Since 1971 Christianity has been in steady decline, whereas those with “No Religion” have increased in an almost linear fashion.
Statistics New Zealand will conduct the next Census of Population and Dwellings on Tuesday, 8 March 2011. It looks certain that people who profess an affiliation with Christianity will be below the 50% mark for the first time since the original NZ census in 1867.
Note that the measure of “Religious Affiliation” simply means a cultural or social identification with a particular religion, and does not mean that a person is an active church-goer. So the number of active Christians will be far fewer than what the census figures indicate.
By the time the 2016 census comes around, people who declare they have “No Religion” could well be in the majority, and certainly will be by 2021. It seems there is nothing that Christians can do to shake this 40-year trend. Good riddance!
EDIT (19/01/2011): Can someone do a similar graph for Australia or the U.K, and send me a link? It would be interesting to compare the trends.