Aug 02 2011

Smart-alecky Australian kids…and a poll

A member of the Australian parliament, Fred Nile, has been pushing an interesting cost-saving measure. You know how Australian schools are saddled with chaplains and religious instruction? Well, he wants to keep that nonsense and kill the ethics classes that students can take as a secular alternative.Seems backwards to me, but then he is presumably a Christian, and so is perverse and backward by nature.

So Charlie Fine wrote an op-ed defending the ethics courses. Fine is 11 years old, and smarter than a member of parliament.

The facts show that only 33 per cent of the world is Christian, and in NSW a quarter of children choose not to attend lessons on theological scripture. I think it is possible to be non-religious and a good person.

By all means, Mr Nile, you go out and be as Christian as you want; I respect that entirely. But that does not give you and your supporters the right to attempt to shape a future generation of adults in your mould – that is a religious conservative.

Your views are out of step with modern society, so I would ask you to reconsider your actions and continue to allow parents and children a choice in their classrooms.

There’s a poll with the opinion piece. I guess Charlie Fine is very persuasive.

Where do you stand on ethics classes in schools?

For them


Against them


Oh, sure, you can go vote on the poll too, but I think Charlie has it all well in hand.


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  1. 1
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    Shouldn’t kids like this be staying off your lawn, PZ?

    Seriously though, read the full piece on the news article. Kid is brilliant! Skeptics are starting younger and younger, and it’s fantastic.

  2. 2

    If Charlie Fine keeps up that sort of attitude, he may end up with a blog here. (Ok, maybe in a decade or so.)

  3. 3
    Phillip IV

    he is presumably a Christian, and so is perverse and backward by nature.

    He is a clergyman, even, so irrespective of his nature he’s at the very least perverse and backward by profession. I think we should reassign the adjective ‘New’ to the other South Wales. It seems to be more progressive, these days.

  4. 4

    Of course, Nile will ignore it, claiming that he has a greater wisdom coming from experience. Probably the most frustrating thing about being a young atheist (fortunately, I’m over that stage myself).

  5. 5
    drbunsen, le savant fous

    Fred “200,000 porn hits from my Parliamentary office computer because I need to keep tabs on the Australian Sex Party” Nile

  6. 6

    “I trust you not to be manipulated by a man who on Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras gets down on his knees and prays for rain.”


  7. 7

    It should be noted that Nile is a member of the NSW Legislative Council- his (direct) influence is only because he holds the balance of power in NSW.

  8. 8

    A member of the Australian parliament, Fred Nile,

    No, he definitely isn’t.

    He’s a member of the New South Wales upper house (Legislative Council) – he’s like a State Senator in the US.

    He’s one of 42 – and by far the wackiest one. But the state government needs him to get some legislation it wants through, so they’re going to do exactly what he wants.

  9. 9
  10. 10

    That is one bad-assed 11-year-old.

  11. 11
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao


    He’s one bad mother- “Shut your mouth” – but I’m talking about Fine! “Then I can dig it.”

  12. 12

    But the state government needs him to get some legislation it wants through, so they’re going to do exactly what he wants.

    After reading this article in today’s smh I’m a little more optimistic that O’Farrell’s humouring Fred, and the ethics classes won’t be dropped. Not confident, but more hopeful.

    That being said, you can’t trust anyone in NSW politics. Not until Charlie Fine gets elected, anyway.

  13. 13
    'Tis Himself

    Mr. Fine wrote an excellent article. Kudos to him.

  14. 14

    Charlie Fine is quite possibly the most awesome 11 year old in NSW! Here is a follow up piece about him: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/lets-respect-childrens-ability-to-think-for-themselves-20110802-1i9ce.html

    Seriously, though, it is an article like this that shows how beneficial ethics class could be in encouraging critical thinking in our kids. Charlie appears to come from a family that encourages thought and articulation of this thought. For kids that don’t have this kind of home environment, I think that ethics classes have the potential to encourage critical thinking – something that would be beneficial to all aspects of their lives, not just in a religious sense.

    Speaking of – after I had politely gotten rid of the Christian evangelist who knocked on my front door yesterday, my 4 year old came out with, “Daddy, is God not real because he only exists in story books and peoples’ imaginations?” Amazing, considering the extent of our discussion on the matter has been along the lines of “Pumpkin, many people believe in God, and worship him, and that’s OK. But Daddy doesn’t believe that God exists.”

  15. 15

    An MP3 interview with Fred Niles [8:36] on the subject by the ABC’s Carol Duncan, from August 1st 2011.

    I wished the interviewer would ask some more incisive questions towards the end, but she asked enough, and he said more than enough to get my goat.

    [from this page]

  16. 16

    The Premier O’Farrell needs Nile and his Christian Democrats, as well as the Shooters and Fishers Party, to have enough votes to curb public sector wages in the Upper House. Freeze public wage increases at 2.5%, and for that he is ready to scrap Ethics classes and teach under 12s to shoot high-powered air rifles in school. Awesome bloke.

  17. 17

    Fred Nile is a long standing religious kook into literalism, anti gay, anti abortion christian fundamentalism and a friend of Billy Graham – a blot on our landscape.

  18. 18
    Snivelling Little Ratfaced Git

    Classic Fred:

    THE last time the Reverend Fred Nile was involved in a filibuster in the NSW upper house, he arrived in a wheelchair wearing pyjamas and slippers.

    It was 1993. Having left his bed at Sydney Hospital next door, his intention was to block a bill outlawing the vilification of homosexuals. Vowing to speak “for as long as I physically can”, he began at 1am and returned to hospital – where he was recuperating from broken ribs – in disgust only after the bill was passed in the early hours.

    He lost that time; let’s hope he loses again. And let’s hope wears his jimjams again. It was pretty funny.

  19. 19

    In Berlin, Germany we had a referendum in 2009 where people tried to establish what is apparently the current situation in Australian classrooms, claiming to give children “free choice” between religious education and (secular) ethics classes. Fortunately, the proposal got voted down, preserving the current situation, where ethics is mandatory for everyone and religion is optional for everyone. And it’s a good thing, too – I think it’s quite clear that religious people need more education in ethics, not less.

  20. 20

    Charley Fine is the perfect example why people like Fine want to kill the ethics classes: children can learn and become “opinionated” – i.e. disagree with Fine’s world.
    That must not be allowed!

  21. 21

    I enjoy the separation between ethics and religion. I’m not sure which is in greater opposition religion and science or religion and ethics.

  22. 22

    le sigh.

    I love reading you at all, but at times your style of play is sadly pre-Gretsky. Remember, it’s not about punishing the other team for being on the ice, it’s about getting the puck in the net. Elegantly.

    Since you are preaching to the choir, you really don’t have to strike an extra blow for rationalism – I mean, after the man was deaked into the boards by an 11 year old, achieving an own goal in the process?

    That’s like walking over to the man, down on the ice and pissing on him and saying, yeah, me TOO! It makes it harder for me to think well of you, and it takes from the impact of what you wish me to consider.

    Just link to it. Let it stand in all it’s awful majesty. Feature it and say (with all your earned influence and credibility) look. You don’t NEED to tell me what to think of it, if I’m the sort to think, hm, I’m bored, I do wonder what PZ has to say today.

    Which, by the way, I am.

    If you needed to say anything.. you would be talking to people incapable of reading your Good Stuff with comprehension.

  23. 23

    Well this is an old thread, but in answer to Moggie’s question (post 36) The Rev Fred Nile himself has provided us with this op piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald today.


    There are no suprises. Basically his position is that ethics can only exist with religion, and the rest of us are living in a directionless quagmire without right or wrong.

    “I agree with the teaching of ethics in NSW schools, colleges and universities, provided it is based on history’s greatest teacher of ethics, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    “This course does not teach ethics as most parents understand the term. It does not teach children any definitive sense of right from wrong, but promotes the secular humanist relativist philosophy that there are no absolutes, such as ”You shall not murder, lie or steal”.

    “I sincerely regret that some atheistic parents will prevent their children from learning about the most important aspect of Australian culture, our Christian heritage and faith. Even our atheistic Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has said all children should have a knowledge of the Bible.”

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