Don’t Like Christian Books In Schools? Then Ban The Bible.
It seems ‘book burning’ is back in fashion.
At least with the NSW Department of Education. After a complaint was raised publicly in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday by a secular lobby group ‘Fairness In Religion In Schools (FIRIS)‘, a directive was sent from the NSW Government to NSW primary and secondary Principals to make sure certain Christian books were not to be used in public schools by Special Religious Education (SRE) Teachers.
The Trouble Begins.
I first heard about this when a friend of mine, Dr Patricia Weerakoon (who is an author of one of the offending books entitled ‘Teen Sex By The Book‘), posted publicly on her FB page that she was being personally targeted by an ongoing vitriolic campaign.
The article from the Sydney Morning Herald criticised her book and its supposed use in Special Religious Education within NSW public schools. Her book deals explicitly with the Christian view of sex, and is aimed at teenagers and their parents (although it’s not actually part of the SRE curriculum, in case you’re wondering).
The complaint is that her book promotes ‘sexual abstinence outside a “lifelong relationship”‘
Even more controversially, the accusation is that her book ‘link[s] teen sex to drug addiction and alcoholism, describe[s] homosexuality as “misplaced sexual desire” and warns that girls who wear short skirts and low-cut tops might be “tempting their Christian brothers to lust”.
Can you believe it?
A Christian book that describes homosexuality as ‘misplaced sexual desire’, and warns that dressing like Miley Cyrus could tempt teenage boys to lust?
Like, where is she getting her teaching from?
Now, the NSW government can pick and choose which books it wants to be used in its classrooms, and which can’t. That’s their decision (although let’s never forget that the government is always accountable to us, the voting citizens).
But I find this whole situation rather disturbing.
And I think the reason why is this: groups like FIRIS, and the Greens, evidently don’t want Christianity being taught in classrooms – at least not in any recognisable, Biblical form. And here’s why:
1) They Have A Profound Misunderstanding Of The Pivotal Role Christianity Played In Shaping Western Society.
It’s quite telling what the NSW Greens Education spokesperson, John Kaye, had to say:
“If parents knew that scripture was much more than quaint stories about men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals, enrollments would plummet,” he said.
Quaint stories about men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals?
Is this guy serious?
What a disturbing lack of understanding of the worldview that under-girds western civilisation!
Fortunately, there are better informed public commentators, who understand the foundational role that Christianity played in western civilisation. Like respected French Atheist philosopher Luc Ferry, who said:
‘ [In the first century AD] Christianity was to introduce the notion that humanity was fundamentally identical, that men were equal in dignity – an unprecedented idea at the time, and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.’
Another Atheist, political commentator Chris Berg, has this to say:
Yet virtually all the secular ideas that non-believers value have Christian origins… It was theologians and religiously minded philosophers who developed the concepts of individual and human rights. Same with progress, reason, and equality before the law: it is fantasy to suggest these values emerged out of thin air once people started questioning God.
‘Quaint stories’ indeed!
2) If We Insist On Marginalising/Removing Christianity From Our Society, What Then?
If groups like FIRIS and the Greens insist that Christian Special Religious Education has no place in public schools (unless it’s only about ‘men gadding about in togas and Roman sandals’), then what happens to ideals such as human equality, and human rights, that Christianity brought about?
Atheist Chris Berg gives his answer:
But while our age may be secular, it is, at the same time, still a deeply Christian one. If atheists feel they must rip up everything that came before them, they will destroy the very foundations of that secularism.
From a personal perspective, as a university chaplain, I am quite disturbed by non-Christian students that I meet who believe that morality is purely subjective.
One student that I challenged about this put it quite bluntly: ‘rape is not absolutely wrong’.
Where do they get this idea that morality is nothing more than someone’s subjective opinion?
Certainly not from their Scripture class: if anything, Scripture classes give students a viable alternative worldview that makes much more sense of our moral reality than the naturalistic secular worldview that seems to be assumed these days.
3) If You Ban Christian Books, Why Not Just Ban The Bible?
Greens spokesman John Kaye also had this to say in relation to Patricia Weerakoon’s book:
“This is dangerous stuff. Abstinence messaging and homophobia have real consequences for vulnerable young people.”
I’ve written about Christianity and homophobia in an earlier post. However, what people like the Greens class as ‘homophobia’ is not merely hatred of gay people (that’s very un-Christian, in case you’re wondering): homophobia (in Kaye’s view) seems to be believing that sex is designed by God exclusively for enjoyment within a lifelong heterosexual relationship.
Of course, that view of sex comes straight from the Bible.
So why not just come out and say that the Bible is a homophobic text that has no place in public education?
(Of course, the next logical step after that would be taking away the government accreditation of Christian schools that teach their students the Biblical view of sex, but hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
The Next Generation.
I am told that Scripture teaching has long since been removed from public schools in some other states, and is actively being lobbied against in Victoria.
No doubt there are stories of Scripture teachers (and Christian students) saying insensitive things within the classroom.
But by cutting Christianity down to little more than quaint stories about guys walking around in bathrobes, or cutting Scripture altogether, don’t be surprised if uni students turn up not being able to justify important ideals like human dignity, human rights, or why rape is wrong.
On a secular campus near you.
What Do You Think? Is The State Government Right In Withdrawing These Books From SRE? Please leave a comment below.