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Keep religion out of schools

Press Release from the Humanist Society of NZ

The Humanist Society of New Zealand is in full support of the ‘Keep Religion Out Of Schools’ campaign that was recently launched in Auckland. According to the President, Mark Fletcher, the current practice of allowing state schools to 'close' for a period during the teaching day offers volunteer instructors an opportunity to influence impressionable children towards a particular sectarian view, despite Ministry of Education guidelines to the contrary.

'Although parents have the right to withdraw their children, withdrawn children can be made to feel marginalised and alienated and both parents and children are inclined to suffer the indoctrination rather than invoke the right to be absent.'

‘Some biblical values are abhorrent and absurd. For example, slavery is sanctioned in the Old Testament and the New Testament value of not resisting an evil doer is contrary to our whole criminal justice system. In addition, biblical values are based on the expectation of reward and punishment in an afterlife which is a highly flawed basis for a system of morality’.

‘Today we know that children respond to responsible examples set by parents and teachers and that dogma from ancient texts can be counter-productive by encouraging children to seek simple answers to complex modern problems.'

‘Teaching religion in schools promotes the view that religious belief is necessary for a moral society to exist, yet there is now considerable research available to show that moral societies can and do exist without religious belief.’

‘Religious instruction may also promote superstition and dogma at the expense of science-based knowledge.’

'We support a school curriculum that includes a balanced comparative
study of major world religions. We also support school facilities
being used by religious organisations outside of schools hours,
provided that it is done on an equitable and transparent basis.
However, we have major concerns about the message that religious instructors are giving our young people. For this reason, we strongly oppose our tax-funded state schools being used during school hours as a means for religious advocates to influence a young and impressionable audience, or for schools to be treated as mission fields for new converts,' Mr Fletcher said.

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