Parents encouraged to switch from scripture

Trial ethic classes competing with Special Religious Education (SRE) in 10 NSW Schools appear to have caused a drop in SRE attendance of between 30 and 70 percent.

Suburban schools such as Hurstville and Baulkham Hills North are at the higher end of these figures with the explanation that parents at inner city schools had long before withdrawn their children from scripture, while in the suburbs it is a new phenomenon.

As an aside, this is another example of how the intellectualism and ideas of the inner city filter through to the rest of society, by one means or another. This is a good reason for the existence of strong, robust, authentic inner city churches that engage intelligently with their community. Not surprisingly, seven of the 1o schools in the trial are in the inner city with three of these in the electorate of Balmain whose local member is Education Minister Verity Firth.

Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, said he was ‘not surprised’ by the result, saying it proves that the ethics classes will be far more contentious in the suburbs than in the inner-city.

‘It proves that the P&C and St James Ethics Centre were wrong when they claimed they were merely providing an alternative to SRE for non-religious parents. This course is genuine competition for SRE. We are losing parents who claim to be Christians but are somewhat ambivalent and easily swayed by the directions given by school authorities,’ Bishop Forsyth told Anglican Media.

He said his most substantive concern is that the Department of Education has been using its authority to encourage parents to ditch Christian SRE in order to recruit more students for the ethics classes.

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