Opposing parties agree survey about religion in schools biased


A Government-sponsored survey questioning the future of religious instruction in state schools is being dismissed by both religious and secular groups as “biased.”

The survey was launched last week by an independent charity, the Religious Diversity Centre (RDC), in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

The survey asks whether “religious instruction” in state primary schools should be replaced by “neutral teaching” about world religions.

On its website, the RDC says its mission is to “foster appreciation, understanding and deeper relationships among the religious, spiritual and secular communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, and provide an independent and informed voice on religious and spiritual issues in the public sphere.”

In the introduction to the survey, a distinction is made between religious instruction and religious studies.

Religious instruction is defined as being designed to prepare or encourage student participation in the religion in which they are being taught.

Religious education is defined as being designed to teach about religions from a faith-neutral perspective to foster an understanding of what people believe and do, and why.

Launchpad chief executive Geoff Burton, denies that it “prepares” or “encourages” students to participate in Christianity.

Launchpad was formerly known as the Churches Education Commission which runs religious instruction in about 550 state schools.

The  Secular Education Network (SEN) spokesman David Hines, also objected to the questions in the survey.

“Members who have read the questionnaire are concerned that it does not distinguish between primary and secondary schools. Some would support religious studies in state secondary schools, but not in state primary schools,” he said.

Click here to participate in the survey


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