The Federal Government has made quite clear its belief that Australians are at risk from extremists. It is so concerned about the threat of fundamentalists influencing young minds, it sanctioned the well-publicised anti-radicalisation booklet to be distributed in schools around the country. Whether this belief is founded, rational and based on admissible evidence appears irrelevant to the ruling class.
There is no doubt that fundamentalism, extremism and radicalised youth may, potentially, one day, if all circumstances and opportunities align, be a threat. However while the Government is focussing its attention on examples that conflict with its ideology, organisations of a specific religious persuasion are confidently and quite publicly corrupting and indoctrinating the minds of Australian children.
For not the first time, certain Christian organisations have been caught out inflicting their own warped idea of how society should function, on Australian youth. Under the guise of ‘religious education’ in the classroom, these apparent moral arbitrators are teaching teenagers the kind of stuff that would be funny, if it wasn’t so deadly serious.
According to the latest news, young Australians are being taught to “thank God for cancer” and that cancer is “the result of a mucked-up and broken world caused by sin.”
Religious instructors in New South Wales’ schools are allegedly teaching that “being sick or having your period isn’t a sin — but it reminds us that the body and therefore all of humanity now live with the curse of sin.”
In 2015, teenagers are being instructed that female menstruation is a sign of humanity being cursed with sin?
As if this isn’t extreme (and bizarre) enough, children in state funded, public schools, have been told that “wives should submit to their husbands in everything’’ and to “be prepared to die for God.”
This is not the eighteen hundreds. It is not even 1950. This is the stuff being taught in the twenty-first century.
The latest fundamentalist Christian teachings follow an instance earlier in the year where young teenage students in Victorian state schools were “warned not to have multiple sex partners or risk becoming like overused sticky tape.”
According to these religious instructors, clearly experts in the human body and reproductive organs, “a chemical released in females’ brains made them more needy than boys”, and having multiple sexual partners can break a “special chemical bond”, and “harm a woman’s capacity to form future relationships.”
None of these teachings will be news to those who endured a private Christian schooling. However this is not being taught in Christian schools, where parents and students expect a level of religious indoctrination and propaganda, but in public schools, in many cases without the parents’ knowledge or consent.
Some Christian groups are insistent on their right to teach harmful and dangerous anti-gay and anti-divorce messages. There appears to be no concept of the damage any of these teachings have on the wider community and vulnerable people targeted by the hate messages.
Why are these people not more loudly and publicly condemned?
Is it because these religious instructors are largely white, middle-classed, conservative Australians?
Is it because they share the same cultural heritage as a vast majority of the population?
Is it because we are so attuned to thinking extremism and fundamentalism corresponds with brutal, physical violence that we ignore the damage these disturbing teachings are having on society?
This year, the New South Wales Government demonstrated its full support of Christian indoctrination, inferring that Christian studies were mandatory by including it in a listing of ‘core subjects’. The Federal Government has made it clear that it will only support religious chaplains in schools to ‘support’ young people with ethical and moral dilemmas.
No doubt the supporters of this absurdity proclaim that Christian fundamentalism is not a threat to Australian society. Australia was, after all, founded on Christian principles when the British arrived in 1788 and set about brutally murdering the local Indigenous population in an attempt to annihilate the race.
But these kinds of so-called Christian teachings do immense damage.
These Christian organisations, endorsed in many public schools, are teaching the next generation that women must submit to their husbands, that women are inferior, that living with a partner unmarried is a sin, that basic bodily functions which almost half the entire world population experience or have experienced, is a sign of sin.
These Christian so-called educators, mainly volunteers who have been welcomed into state schools, are instructing that gay people are unnatural, that children will be harmed if they do not live within the confines of a heterosexual marriage with their biological mother and father.
Domestic violence is a massive issue for Australia. So far, 69 women have been murdered in 2015, many by husbands and partners.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found prolific, repeated and systematic cover-up of rapes, sexual assaults and child abuse going back decades. Many of those exposed as perpetrators and protectors are religious organisations, and many are Christian denominations.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex Australians have the highest rates of suicidality, (the risk of suicide) of any population in Australia. Same-sex attracted people have up to fourteen times higher rates of suicide attempts than heterosexual Australians, with young same-sex attracted Australians having rates up to six times higher than their peers.
Each year, several thousand Australians take their own lives, the vast majority male. The two key factors for whether a person will experience suicidal ideation is if that person is experiencing both depression and if they feel socially undesirable. It is not inconceivable that dangerous messages taught in schools about gender roles, sexual orientation and health play a part in feelings of social desirability.
The Christian values of love, compassion, inclusion, and forgiveness are sadly lacking from contemporary education, and appear to be replaced with socially divisive and grossly biased ideological messages.
Religion and religious influence is an important topic for children to learn about. People, insistent that their personal religious beliefs hold supremacy, are responsible for wars, genocide and brutal massacres of indigenous cultures and races. Religion is used as an excuse for many atrocities, discrimination, and the deliberate exclusion of certain people in society.
All people have a right to religion, but that does not include the right to force religion onto others. It does not include the right to indoctrinate the young and impressionable. It does not include forcing personal spiritual beliefs onto the wider community.
Earlier this year the Victorian Government announced that it had scrapped religious instruction from school curriculums from 2016, instead replacing with classes that address domestic violence and respectful relationships. This is a far more productive way of addressing the real issues facing young Australians.
Extremism has no place in schools, and this includes extremism which complies with the agenda of the Government.
Ode to Karen – Lyrics: Eva Cripps, performed by Kim.
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