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From the editor: June 2006

During the hundred years of legislated Religious Education in Queensland State Schools the changes in our community have been astounding.

The increasingly multi-cultural, multi-faith and secular aspects of our society have continued to put pressure on our churches’ “right of entry” to schools and now Christian Religious Education is just one of many options available to parents when their children attend the local State School.

Christians in Queensland must shoulder some of the responsibility for the current state-of-affairs.

We have been neglectful in providing adequate support, resources and training for almost 6000 volunteers who visit Queensland State Schools each week as representatives of the Christian church.

Many Christian parents, often for sound reasons, have also been quick to abandon the government education system enrolling their progeny in the burgeoning private and Christian school sector.

Meanwhile some very effective lobbying by the humanists and some non-Christian religious groups has caught the ear of the Department of Education and the Arts resulting in the introduction of the Education (General Provisions) Bill 2006.

The State Government has chosen to ignore the lacklustre response of Queensland churches and push through with changes that will see a much more pluralistic program in schools.

What the government does not fully appreciate is that Christianity is not simply an ethical system which can be reduced to the sayings of Jesus.

Christianity is about the interaction between humankind and God and without that relationship ethics and moral education can become empty and meaningless.

Anglican Bishop Stephen Hale from Melbourne points out that “discussions on truth and value, morality and civic responsibilities, should include examination of the beliefs underlying decisions in these areas. Students need accurate information on the ways religious stories, practices and beliefs have influenced our culture and society.”

Christians will need to be vigilant and vigorous if they are to maintain even the ground that will remain if and when the legislation is passed by the Queensland Parliament.

We will need to put much more energy into both the teaching of Christian Religious Education and monitoring the implementation of a very different set of rules.

Pray for your RE teachers and talk to your politicians.