Ethics, Scripture and teaching religions

April 20, 2006

An important debate is unfolding about teaching Scripture in schools. In a pluralist society such as Australia, what place does religion have in public education? Most people agree it has to have some place, since understanding religion is surely a key to being a properly educated citizen. We've gotten over the modernist/materialist insanity that would ban religion (haven't we?).

My hope is that this debate will serve to distinguish Christian teaching from ethics. Jesus taught some great ethical principles, and Christians do believe (in various ways) that the world reflects the reality of God and we should live in accordance with it. But I think Christians so easily slip into teaching morality and civil niceties rather than theology that this is the kind of shake-up we need.
I like the theory behind Emily Maguire's suggestion that all faiths get their 15 minutes of chalk. Although, I boggle at the utopian politics of trying to pull off such a situation. John Dickson has given it a good go in his Spectator's Guide to World Religions (also a CASE course!), which the educational powers would do well to look at.

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