Christians Might Be Concerned. But We Are Not Without A Voice.
In my previous post ‘Let’s Just Ban The Bible’ I discussed the book banning directive that was put out recently by the NSW Government, to all public schools who host Special Religious Education. In this post, we’ll be thinking about how Christians should respond to this situation.
Is This Banning Even Legal?
Before we get to the 2 things that Christians should be doing, it’s worth pointing out that this State government directive is also legally questionable.
According to Newcastle Law Professor Neil James Foster:
‘[T]he content of lessons and how they are taught are meant to be the responsibility of the SRE provider, not the Department! It can hardly be supposed that with all these responsibilities carefully set out, the intention of Parliament, or even of the Department, was to allow a single bureaucrat to decide without warning to “ban” the use of certain texts in response to a one-sided press report, with no consultation. Yet this seems to be what has happened.’
Ignoring the law to achieve some overtly anti-Christian ideological bureaucratic outcome? Since when is that acceptable in a free and open society?
And so it’s well and truly time for Christians to speak up.
So How Should Christians Respond?
There are 2 important ways we need to speak up about this issue:
1) Speak to God Himself, By Praying for our State Government.
If you’re anything like me, prayer can seem so inefficient – why pray, when there are more seemingly active things we can be doing? And yet, we’re told in no uncertain terms that all governments (both good and bad) are put here by God (Romans 13:1-6), and we’re to pray for our governments (1 Timothy 2:1-2). So when it comes to speaking up about this issue, the first person we’re to speak to is our Heavenly Father.
- Justice would be done: that this bureaucratic over-reach would be corrected, and the State government would act lawfully;
- SRE would be able to continue uninhibited in public schools, for the benefit of both Christian and non-Christian students.
2) Speak Up Politically, Because The Buck Stops With Us.
The beauty about living in a democracy is that we get a say about our laws: we have a right to raise our concerns with the political leaders who represent us. And they need to listen, if they’re to get re-elected! That’s a privilege that very few people in human history have been afforded.
But what most people (including Christians) forget is that democracy also brings with it significant responsibilities. Namely that we, the people, are ultimately responsible for the governments we vote in, and thus the laws that they pass. Theologian Russell Moore has this to say:
In our system of government [i.e. democracy], the ultimate “king” is the people. As citizens, we bear responsibility for electing officials, for speaking to laws that are made in our name, and for setting precedents by our actions. Shrugging this off is not the equivalent of Jesus standing silently before Pilate. It’s the equivalent of Pilate washing his hands, so as not to bear accountability for our own decisions and precedents set.
If you are concerned about this book ban, then silence is not the right option. And so:
Write A Letter To Your Local State Member, To The NSW Education Minister, And To The NSW Premier.
I once heard an interview with a politician who said that politicians respond most to written letters, as opposed to emails.
So write that letter.
If you need some guidance, please check out the following link:
It’s best if you write to your local State member, the NSW Education Minister, and if you can, the NSW Premier.
Do We Want The Freedom To Teach SRE To Continue?
Teaching SRE in public schools is an amazing privilege. But it’s more than that: as I’ve argued in my previous post, SRE is also a public good. That is, society as a whole benefits from SRE. Nevertheless, there may come a day when the people of NSW don’t want it to be taught. But until that day arrives, we need to keep speaking up for the freedom to teach SRE, and not let a small-but-vocal group of anti-SRE campaigners pressure DEC bureaucrats into marginalising it, or shutting it down.
So let’s keep speaking up.
(Photo courtesy Dollarphotoclub.com)