Victoria rejects 'anti-church' texts complaint

Victoria's Equal Opportunity Commission has rejected claims the state's high school students are being brainwashed with textbooks that ridicule and demean the Church.

The Australian reports that the Commission investigated a complaint of racial vilification against a series of Jacaranda Press history, humanities and science textbooks studied by Year 8 students in 100 Victorian schools after a Melbourne teacher alleged the material presented unbalanced depictions and "demonised" the Church.

The books, including SOSE Alive 2 and Humanities Alive 2, say the medieval Christian church controlled people by making them "terrified of going to hell" or face "horrific torture or being burnt alive" if they were excommunicated.

"I am just outraged at Jacaranda's depiction of the Catholic Church, its doctrines and its adherents," said Robert Mears, a maths-science teacher at a Melbourne Catholic secondary college. "It's fostering sectarianism and it is anti-Catholic bigotry that should not be used in schools."

Mr Mears, a practising Catholic, made the formal complaint under the state's Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, after the publishers initially ignored his queries last year about earlier textbooks that contained similar material.

The clergy was repeatedly referred to as "corrupt" and Catholics were portrayed as non-thinking, he said.

"When the Reformation came along, a lot of people just didn't leave the church because they were so oppressed. A lot of them fought against the destruction of their beliefs and of their church."

Mr Mears is calling for publishers John Wiley & Sons Australia, of which Jacaranda is a division, to issue an apology and correction.

But in a letter to Mr Mears, the EOC rejected his complaint, saying it was "lacking in substance and misconceived".

'Anti-church' texts complaint rejected (The Australian 17/4/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Equal Opportunity Commission, Victoria

Catholic school principal sacked for getting married (Sydney Morning Herald 16/4/06)
Kevin Donnelly: Church vilified in classrooms (The Australian 17/4/06)
Religious Ed for TEE will be systematic (The Record ../4/06)
The Catholic school: celebrating opportunities (Aurora April-May 2006)
Church attacked on school changes (The Age 11/4/06)
Diocese launches new book of student prayers (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle 3/4/06)

18 Apr 2006