My heading looks provocative, but the question must be asked in the light of ‘revelations’ that some school are being targeted by preachers, fully intent on recruiting young people to their way of thinking. It raises the question about the balance of how much and by whom we should invite into our classrooms to inform young minds about the values of Christianity.
I am not for a moment degrading the Christian message but I am questioning the right of various denominations to go into our schools and deliver a programme that can be said to be aimed at increasing the membership of their ‘churches.’ This would be made an easier task if the school already possesses a staff that is already well down that track. Quite a few schools have fundamentalists majorities on their staffs. It does not take a terribly large leap of faith to see what the possibilities for them to extend their influence are.
However, the scenario I have just described is a minority position for most schools. Teachers reflect society and that means that most schools have a pretty good balance of beliefs and non-beliefs in the makeup of their staffing. It is only when an outside organization and an inside willingness cooperate to allow a situation where this ‘bending’ of young minds occurs that it becomes an issue.
One must also ask--- what of the other religions? Should we not allow members from the Hindu, Muslim, Baha’i, or Jewish Communities access to our kids?
NO! You say. New Zealand is Christian Country and has Christian foundations. Perhaps you are forgetting that we also have tried very hard to find a balance between the state and the church. School is for learning and God alone knows how difficult the situation is in relation to that at the moment. Do we really need these groups coming in and ‘teaching’ our kids, albeit in a voluntary manner for the kids? One must remember that it is an ‘opt out’ delivery system so it is actually quite alienating for a young kid to ask not to be included. Does he or she then become some sort of victim because he is not abiding of the opportunity to hear the word of God?
The values as espoused by the Christina faith are actually pretty universal and it is just in the mechanics that the differences occur, so the good ‘citizen ‘message is an appropriate one--- but we must be careful that we do not invite people into our schools who would deliver more than that basic message and we must make sure that parents clearly hear the message that they can ‘opt out,’ without their kids feeling the pressure.