Church fears 'Ethics' may be stepping stone to ban on Scripture
Catholic educators fear that a move to introduce ethics into the NSW public school system could be the first "stepping-stone" to removing scripture lessons from the curriculum.
The Catholic Weekly reports that the State's parents and citizens body and ethics groups have proposed the development of an ethics syllabus to provide meaningful lessons during the timetabled scripture class.
Scripture has been part of the school timetable for more than 100 years, but in many schools non-believers study, go to the playground or watch videos during the weekly classes.
The NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Association president, Sharryn Brownlee, said that the ethics education has strong support from the executive.
"One of the biggest concerns of parents is that children are meaningfully engaged," she said. "If they don't go to scripture, they shouldn't be just colouring in or sitting in the playground."
However, director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Anthony Cleary, says that rather than offering a choice, the ethics proposal could be the first move towards replacing religious education in schools.
"The fear is that this is a stepping-stone towards a long-term goal of removing scripture from school altogether," he said. "Already, there are some public schools that don't have Christmas pageants or services for Holy Week.
"There is great concern among Catholics that we are now starting a move away from religious education in schools."
Bishop Julian Porteous said that ethics and morality have always been based on an understanding of the nature of the human person and human life and that the origin of that understanding is "a person's faith".
"To have ethical teaching without a firm foundation in a faith perspective would be inadequate," he said.
'Ethics' may be stepping stone to ban on scripture (Catholic Weekly 14/8/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
11 Aug 2005