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Govt Preparing for Prayer Police: - PC Gone Mad

Government Preparing for Prayer Police: - PC Gone Mad

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party

Thursday 24 August 2006

New guidelines to clarify the role of religion in schools, are an example of Political Correctness gone berserk says Maori Party Co-leader, Dr Pita Sharples.

“If this is such an issue at this time, then the Maori Party suggests that the community must be involved in the discussion”.

“Tangata whenua will have many views to contribute about the distinctions between religion and spirituality; about the significance of karakia in either general stream or kura kaupapa Maori; indeed about the use of karakia in its own right. This is a fascinating discussion, which must involve us all, in our own settings, and should not be dealt to by way of Ministry guidelines”.

“The Maori Party does not see any value in schools being obliged to respect artificial divisions between what is considered ‘secular’ and ‘non-secular’” said Dr Sharples.

“Our emphasis has always been on schools doing what they can to develop a nourishing environment which reflects a unified and holistic approach to life”.

“We believe there is a spiritual existence alongside the physical” stated Dr Sharples. “We also respect the right for communities to follow religious practices and uphold cultural values without discrimination or bias”.

“While we appreciate that a religious world view is clearly available through the integration of a religious school into the state system, this does not resolve issues for parents who want their children to have access to religious or spiritual values in general stream education” said Dr Sharples.

“Avoiding any religious allusion in schooling seems to me, to limit the very concept of knowledge and learning that we expect in education” said Dr Sharples. “Indeed, having some understanding of the ethics and morals that are wrapped up in our social mores, is a key factor in our nationhood”.

“How could one possibly describe the process of colonisation in the history of Aotearoa, without discussing the impact of missionaries?”

“How can one discuss the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, our foundation as a nation, without reference to the role of Anglican, Wesleyan and Roman Catholics clergy within the negotiations, and Anglican and Wesleyan missionaries?”

“If we carry out this blatant censorship and revisionist history, our children will miss out on the significance of tradition and the lasting impacts it has had our way of life as a country” said Dr Sharples.

“Learning about religious views or spirituality, also offers an alternative way of understanding the world. Indeed, in Te Ao Maori, our spirituality, our wairuatanga, is central to the everyday lives of Mäori people and is integral to the way Mäori view the world” said Dr Sharples.

“It would be impossible to extract karakia from the culture, by setting in place an ‘opt in’ or an ‘opt out’ approach”.

“If we carry this brainwashing programme to its logical extreme, we will see the dismantling of many institutions - the prayer at the start of Parliament; the playing of our national anthem at Olympic sporting events; the observance of national days such as Easter or Christmas; the practise of ‘swearing on the Bible’ undertaken in sessions of the Court”.

“Does one get rid of Christmas? Does one get rid of Easter? Does one instruct the Speaker of the House to desist from starting each session with a Parliamentary Prayer? Where does it all stop?”

“Every culture has a spiritual reference which is exhibited in a diversity of beliefs, behaviours and values” said Dr Sharples. “Threatening schools that they will set the spiritual police on them, to punish ‘law-breakers’ for practising ‘religious karakia’ is just another example of the PC brigade out of control”.


The Private Schools Conditional Integration Act enables ‘education with a special character’, that is education within the framework of a particular or general religious or philosophical belief, and associated with observances or traditions appropriate to that belief.

Primary schools are bound by the ‘secular clause’ in section 77 of the Education Act 1964, which provides that primary education “shall be entirely of a secular character”. Section 78 or 78A permit a closure of up to one hour per week, longer with Ministerial approval, for religious instruction.


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