Believers and atheists join in opposing school Bible lessons

About a dozen protesters from the Secular Education Network (SEN) picketed outside the High Court at Auckland on Thursday in support of the McClintock family.

A SEN spokesperson, David Hine, said the group of protesters included atheists who wanted no religion to be taught in state schools, as well as religious people who believed all religions – rather than only Christianity – should be taught as part of the school curriculum.

Hine said SEN members were joined by people from Auckland churches and the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists.

Thursday’s hearing at the High Court in Auckland was procedural, with the  Churches Education Commission (CEC) seeking to take part in the case.

The  CEC provides school Bible lessons 667 state schools.

Justice Susan Thomas reserved her decision as to whether CEC would be joined.

The High Court is expected to hear the full legal bid later this year.

Hine says about nine religious leaders have joined SEN campaigns in the past eight months, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders.

SEN said it has had a boost in membership since news of the hearing was published in the Herald on Sunday last weekend, alongside reports of a religious sex education pamphlet being used in a Christchurch school’s health lesson.

About 60 new people joined the network in the 24 hours following publication of the reports, Hine said.

He says it’s not religion they object to, but what he calls evangelisation and the brainwashing of children.

“Kids, who by age ten or twelve, are able to fight back. But little kids are not critical and tend to believe what they’re told,” he said.

Hine claims the legislation that allows Christian teaching in state schools is against the Bill of Rights Act.


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