This morning, I read the article entitled “Kids ‘punished’ for opting out of bible class” over on the TVNZ news site.
I have met Peter Harrison and respect him greatly. He has done (and, no doubt, continues to do) many excellent things for the Free/Libre Software movement in NZ. A man with wonderful debating skills – and a passion for what he believes in.
I must admit, I also thought him to be a much more rational man than the above article would suggest.
Surely if a child is feeling ‘punished’ when opting out of any class – be it religious, sport or whatever the context – that should be the responsibility of the school to correct, rather than whoever is running the programme being opted out of? Should the facilitators of said programme provide the 2nd class for those who’s parents have opted them out? Would those parents not also protest that class?
But no, the answer – as presented by the comments in the above article – is to cancel the programme entirely. To me, this shows some larger motive underlying the comments rather than what you might expect – which is evidenced by Peter’s Facebook group.
The larger issue appears to be that having the option to opt-out of something we don’t agree with is no longer enough – we now have to campaign to have that which doesn’t line up with our beliefs, expunged entirely from existence. This harks back to many nasty periods of mankind’s history (some – though not all, and certainly not as many as popularly portrayed – perpetuated in the name of God).
I am certainly not accusing Peter himself of wanting these periods of history repeated, but that does seem the common end to this train of thinking.
(For what it’s worth, I find it surprising that any biblically based teaching would say that “dinosaurs don’t exist” – there are, in fact, many references to ‘dinosaur’ like creatures in God’s “archaic document”.)
[EDIT 5th Feb 2014: Gosh, this certainly generated some interesting comments. I had thought the title of this post was self-explanatory but it appears easily twisted to mean something else. Of course, I was referring to the Secular-Humanism religion which is obviously not the focus of being kept out of schools.
Anyways, I decided to leave all the comments and not delete any of them as I think they tell a good story. There was even one on the Facebook group page from someone saying ‘look – this guy says he’s a Christian – he obviously has an ulterior motive!’. Ironic.
Also, many thanks to Peter for his well reasoned and logical comment – which I mostly agree with – in which he was able to expand on what the media was presenting.]