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Feb 11 2014

An Australian survey

It’s terrible. It’s nothing but loaded question after loaded question, with no opportunity for nuance. The Australian Christian Lobby is begging for you to tell them to kick Christianity out of the curriculum. These are the kinds of questions they ask:

Faith-based school communities and families who homeschool should have the flexibility to teach creation alongside evolution and the big bang theory.

Let us teach nonsense in the classroom!

While sustainability, Indigenous and Asian themes may be interesting and important, the current curriculum emphasises these issues at the expense of other important themes that should also be addressed by the Curriculum.

We’re teaching too much crap about non-white people!

You know, there should be some instruction in general religion in schools — I consider it to be along the lines of telling kids not to eat poison. But this survey is all about teaching only a biased, emphatically fundamentalist position to them as good. How about giving them a secular education instead? Is that too much to ask?

Hmmm. I know some people who might provide a counterbalancing perspective.

31 comments

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  1. 1
    Thomas Hobbes

    What on earth is a “post-secular” society and what is pluralist about it?

    I checked “Strongly disagree” everywhere just to be sure…

  2. 2
    David Marjanović

    …Why do they want my contact information? Is it so they can ignore everything I clicked?

  3. 3
    David Marjanović

    What on earth is a “post-secular” society

    Oh wow, I couldn’t process that and automatically interpreted it as “post-religious” and “secular” at the same time…

  4. 4
    Inaji

    While sustainability, Indigenous and Asian themes may be interesting and important

    May be important? Themes? Goodness, no surprise those non-white people themes are being stomped back into the proverbial closet, but sustainability is rather crucial, I’d think.

  5. 5
    Wren, a Tru Hoppist

    I put down as my contact informations:

  6. 6
    Wren, a Tru Hoppist

    Bah!

    I put down as my contact information:
    An
    Austrailian
    Who
    Thinks
    Science
    Should
    Be
    in
    Classrooms

  7. 7
    gussnarp

    @Thomas Hobbes: You beat me to it. That one jumped out at me too. Who’s writing their propaganda these days? I think “post-secular” is what they wish the world was. You know, it’s their dystopian (well, utopian to them) future in which blasphemy is illegal and Christianity is restored to the completely privileged position it once held, as opposed to the just mostly privileged position it now holds, where the schools teach that Christianity is completely responsible for all the technological and scientific innovation ever, even as it teaches lies in science class that undermine our ability to make scientific progress in the future, and teaches that Christianity is superior to all other religions and that native Australian peoples should be grateful that we came along and took their children away to teach them to be Christian and stop trying to get their history taught alongside the history of white men thousands of miles away.

  8. 8
    Thomas Hobbes

    So we can safely state that “post-secular” really means “pre-secular”.

    BTW Funny that “post-secular” is recognized by my spell checker but “pre-secular” is not. makes you wonder. Have the xians infiltrated the Mozilla community?

  9. 9
    opposablethumbs

    Seems I’m a pro-secularism Australian … (well, signed “A citizen”; I didn’t actually specify where I was a citizen of. Besides, could always be the world – that’s legit, right?). And filled in the comment box to the effect that kids should be taught science, ethics and critical thinking rather than religious fantasy.

  10. 10
    garydargan

    Australia is in the sad position of having the Tea Party in governemnt but in thrall to the Christian lobby which holds several Senate seats making them significant power brokers. Australia will probably become a Dominionist theocracy before the US because there is no constitutional protection from religious ideologues compelling us to subscribe to their narrow, fundamentalist bigotry.

  11. 11
    gussnarp

    @garydargan – I have a pretty ridiculous American view of Australia where it’s all outback, but if I think about it I know there’s Sydney and Melbourne, which are pretty big, modern cities, and some other cities, and I assume there’s the usual breakdown where rural = conservative Christian and urban = liberal/progressive secular that we have in the US. So what I don’t know with my American view is how the population is distributed and how districts are drawn and how that affects government. In the US, most of the population is in fairly urban areas, but the system is designed to give power in disproportion to the population to rural states, and we end up close to a balance between the two, instead of what we should have where liberal/progressive and secular voters dominate. IF in Australia the population is more rural and/or the representation system similarly gives disproportionate power to rural voters, in excess of the American system, then you could easily be right.

  12. 12
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    It’s important to know however @gussnarp that here in Australia the Liberals are not liberals, they are conservatives, very right wing. There’s Labor who is centre right but not completely full of right wing douches, and the Greens who in spite of being one of the only parties who had a detailed list of their policies on their website at the last election is usually dismissed as being ‘fringe lefties’.

    Currently the Liberal Party is in coalition with the National party (rural) making the LNP.

    Given though that they’ve just told the farmers that they won’t be getting any assistance during droughts since they’re spending that money on pointless royal commissions and tax breaks for their rich mates there’s always a faint sliver of hope that the National Party will wake up and smell the Coal Seam Methane and break the coalition.

  13. 13
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Man, they want my contact information, and I’m just not comfortable furnishing them with that information :(

    I clicked “strongly disagree” on all the multi-choices, and wrote “Yes, stop trying to worm creationism into it” in the box.

  14. 14
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @gussnarp #7

    I think “post-secular” is what they wish the world was.

    And I bet if you asked them to define it, not a single one could. God knows I can’t.

  15. 15
    raven

    What on earth is a “post-secular” society

    One that doesn’t exist yet.

    1. It could be after all the humans are dead.

    2. It more likely means when the fundie xians end up like the FLDS. Small groups living in out of the way places and oppressing their women and children. And causing social problems that the rest of us don’t quite know how to deal with.

    They aren’t called cults for no reason. They mostly thrive isolated from reality and everyone else.

  16. 16
    Arnie

    I notice my contact information was accepted, even though I live in an unusual location.

    (I checked “Strongly disagree” on everything.)

  17. 17
    anuran

    Australia: It’s South Florida for the rest of the world

  18. 18
    Lofty

    anuran

    Australia: It’s South Florida for the rest of the world

    Yeah, sure, just brush a country as large in area as the US and just as diverse into one “representative” corner.

  19. 19
    Lofty

    Inaji

    May be important? Themes? Goodness, no surprise those non-white people themes are being stomped back into the proverbial closet, but sustainability is rather crucial, I’d think.

    Well they do think their mate Jeebus will be back real soon (checks watch) and they’d better try use up all that eternally renewing stash they’ve been given.

  20. 20
    jste

    I had something to say, but it was mostly incoherent rage. I so hope christianity never gets a stronger presence in our classrooms than it already has.

  21. 21
    Jacob Schmidt

    You know, there should be some instruction in general religion in schools — I consider it to be along the lines of telling kids not to eat poison.

    I think religion should be taught alongside geography, sociology, history, etc. Its a fact of our world, and will continue to be prevalent for decades if not centuries. We should know about the world around us and where we came from, for the sake of not being ignorant morons in nothing else.

  22. 22
    ck

    Comparitive religious studies could be useful in public schools, but I seriously doubt this is what these people have in mind. Knowing other people’s unexamined sincere beliefs about the world tends to undermine your own unexamined sincere beliefs, especially when you see how diverse (and frankly ridiculous) they can be.

  23. 23
    Kitterbethe

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures , Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia , and Sustainability are the three cross-curriculum priorities to be given special attention under the national curriculum.

    Apart from the secular vs religious aspects in the backlash to this, all three of these priorities are somewhat coded left wing and the right are having a collective dummy spit that there is no “white people are the awesomeest. Huzzah for christianity and capitalism” cross curriculum priority.

  24. 24
    Muz

    So many loaded quesitons. I would actually be in favour of teaching the religious context in which Australia came into being, where applicable, in a sociological sense, to aid comprehension of the way people might have thought and spoken back then. Other than that, I don’t think it matters. Where is that option?

  25. 25
    Snoof

    Given though that they’ve just told the farmers that they won’t be getting any assistance during droughts since they’re spending that money on pointless royal commissions and tax breaks for their rich mates there’s always a faint sliver of hope that the National Party will wake up and smell the Coal Seam Methane and break the coalition.

    Here’s hoping that happens. Sometimes it seems kind of strange that the free-market libertarian arch-capitalist Liberals and the agrarian socialist Nationals are allied at all – the only thing they’ve got in common is xenophobia and intolerance.

    Then again, the Howard years proved that xenophobia and intolerance win elections, so I guess it makes kind of sense.

  26. 26
    Snoof

    It’s interesting that the survey uses the phrase “understanding Christianity”. I actually agree with them – understanding Christianity is important for understanding history and western culture. Thing is, my version of understanding Christianity is more like “an apocalyptic/revolutionary Jewish cult founded in Judea in the first century CE which grew in prominence thanks to deliberate attempts to de-emphasise its messianic roots and was co-opted by the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century…” and the ACL’s is “Jesus is gonna send you to Hell unless you worship him! Let’s all talk about how awesome he is. Also, here’s a list of people you have to hate.”

    While it’d be nice to get some actual critical analysis of Christian thought, history and tradition in the National Curriculum, I’d rather avoid it being used for proselytising. And I’d certainly rather it wasn’t used to replace looking at the history of the peoples who have lived on this continent for the last fifty thousand years, or how we might possibly survive the next century.

    (Apologies for the double post.)

  27. 27
    Steve Caldwell

    Anyone want to help pharyngulate this poll:

    “What best represents your take on the evolution/creationism debate?”
    http://www.shreveporttimes.com/poll/2014-02-05/7775612

  28. 28
    seranvali

    I think it should definitely be taught…alongside the other major religions in a class on comparative religion. If they want to talk about it in that context, then I’m fine with it. It has no place, however, in a science curriculum. I have no idea what they mean by a post-secular society. As far as I can see it’s the only way that people of different religions and philosophies and live together and not impose their views on one another. If we want to have people of different cultures living together to have religious freedom it’s essential.

  29. 29
    seranvali

    I answered their damn questions and excoriated them in their comments box. I left my real contacts details in the hope that they will contact me so I can excoriate them again. *hiss, snarrrrl*

  30. 30
    Thomas Hobbes

    @Steve #27 – That’s a tough poll! I’d want to check three out of four of the answers. Which one did you choose?

  31. 31
    Steve Caldwell

    Thomas Hobbes @ 30 — I picked the “Evolution is science, you can’t ignore the evidence around you” choice (twice, of course — because I have two computers). This is a science question at the heart of the matter.

    The currently winning choice with 45% of the vote is “The fact we are having this debate at all is why our students are failing” — which captures everybody’s frustration with education policy in Louisiana. It’s just that folks don’t agree on the solutions for school problems down here.

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