The ethics of ethics trials

  (12 April 10)
  by Greg Spearritt

The unseemly and breathtaking hypocrisy of Sydney Anglicanism is currently on display over the trial of ethics classes in NSW schools.


Archbishop Peter Jensen – who reportedly refused to meet in the initial consultation phase with those from the St James Ethics Centre who will conduct the trial – complains that if the course continues after the trial, it will “jeopardise religious education in public schools.'' ''Without such a religious component, public schools will cease to be inclusive of all children,'' he says.


There are three problems with Dr Jensen’s one-eyed and immoderate views.


First, it’s not ‘religious education’ and never has been. Education would expose children to a range of faiths and deal with facts, not doctrines. It’s actually religious instruction, ‘RI’, aka religious indoctrination, delivered largely by fervent faithful who wouldn’t know the first thing about the true history of the ‘scripture’ they’re ‘teaching’.


Second, if religion is so foundational and valuable to our society, why is the Arch concerned that a secular alternative to religion classes would spell the end of RI? Aren’t there enough parents who would want it to continue? I don’t hear those arguing for ethics classes baying for the complete demise of choice – which is what Dr Jensen is doing.


Which brings us to the third point: public schools are not inclusive now. What currently happens to children whose parents don’t want their children learning church doctrine from uninformed volunteers? There’s no genuine alternative.


So, Dr Jensen: do you want choice, or don’t you? Is it fair – or ‘Christian’ – to force everyone to fit the religious model or ‘sit out’ for those lessons?  Is it, indeed, ethical?





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