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New GG calls for more religion in schools

More religion should be taught in schools to lift the nation's ethics and values, according to Australia's recently installed Governor-General Michael Jeffery.

Major-General Jeffrey told delegates at the Australian Religious Press Association (ARPA) Convention in Canberra that the reduction or elimination of religion in schools had had a negative impact on society, and that schools should teach the core beliefs of "faith, hope and love".

Observers suggest the new Governor-General has ignited a debate about the role of church and state, with some bodies critical of his opinions in one of his first public forays.

"The challenge for our community is to try to live by the simple, lasting values the great religions teach," Maj-Gen Jeffrey said in his keynote speech.

"(The challenge) is to instil in our children and our grandchildren the notion that society benefits if we live an ethically good life, including the recognition that with rights go obligations; to each other, to our communities and to our nation."

Maj-Gen Jeffery was sworn in only last week as the successor to former Anglican Archbishop Peter Hollingworth.

Australian Education Union state president Mary Bluett told the Herald-Sun that he shows a lack of understanding of what is taught in public schools: "I thought we got rid of the religious guy."

Monarchist and Australian Broadcasting Authority chairman David Flint said the Governor-General's comments were both uncontroversial and correct.

"The teaching of religion is very important and one of the pillars our nation was built on - the Constitution itself refers to Almighty God," he said. "Australia was built on Judeo-Christian beliefs."

The Governor-General made the comments at one of his first formal functions since his swearing-in - a reception for members of the peak church press body, the Australasian Religious Press Association, at Government House in Canberra.


Governor-General of Australia
Australian Religious Press Association: Governor-General's Address
Australian Religious Press Association: Convention 2003
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19 Aug 2003