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Old 14th April 2010, 10:02 AM
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Default Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

The Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) has rejected claims by Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, that secular ethics classes in schools are an attack on religion. The Archbishop urged NSW Premier Kristina Keneally to scrap the program following the conclusion of a preliminary trial.

AFA President David Nicholls said Mr Jensen was missing the point.

"Secular ethics are about including everybody and asking how we can make the world a better place. They are not an attack on religion – far from it," Nicholls said.

"Secular values – such as honesty, integrity, respect for humanity and the environment – can be appreciated regardless of one's religion or lack thereof. That's the beauty of them."

"You don't need 'God' to be good, and no religion has a monopoly on morals."

Nicholls said Peter Jensen's own religio-moral views provided a "questionable" basis for public ethics education.

"Archbishop Jensen, throughout his career, has demonstrated peculiar attitudes towards woman and gays. It would be a shame if schools only taught values which reflect his own narrow religious views," Nicholls said.

Nicholls said that Australia, as a secular multicultural democracy, must respect the separation of church and state.

Media Contact:

David Nicholls

President
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc

Phone (08) 8835 2269
Email info@atheistfoundation.org.au
Website http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au
Forum http://atheistfoundation.org.au/forums/index.php
Convention http://www.atheistconvention.org.au
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Old 14th April 2010, 10:31 AM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

YAY!!!
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Old 14th April 2010, 11:06 AM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

I still think you mob should ask me to craft these little missives.
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Old 14th April 2010, 11:16 AM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

Does religious education in schools cater for the varied beliefs of the different religions in society? I doubt it. I allege that it only caters for the views of the dominant religions, namely the Roman Catholic and/or Anglican views of christianity. At my school there is one scripture teacher for almost 1300 students and he's as catholic as the Pope. At least an alternative ethics class provides students and parents with some choice.
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Old 14th April 2010, 11:17 AM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

I think this is well put. I do wonder, though, if we might be better keeping our heads down on this one. I think that this could be somewhat of a touchstone issue for secularism. We wouldn't want it to become narrowed to a religion-versus-atheism debate. I'm sure Jensen wants to characterise it in those terms.

Does anyone else know of any examples elsewhere where students are offered secular ethics classes as an alternative to Special Religious education?
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Old 14th April 2010, 11:24 AM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Does anyone else know of any examples elsewhere where students are offered secular ethics classes as an alternative to Special Religious education?
The school I teach at is a NSW public school which has, as I said, almost 1300 students. We don't, at this date, have an ethics class. Just one catholic administering scripture classes to about 80% of those students(senior students excluded). If a school of this size doesn't have an ethics class, I can't imagine which ones would?
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Old 14th April 2010, 11:27 AM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

Quote:
Originally Posted by pedrico View Post
The school I teach at is a NSW public school which has, as I said, almost 1300 students. We don't, at this date, have an ethics class. Just one catholic administering scripture classes to about 80% of those students(senior students excluded). If a school of this size doesn't have an ethics class, I can't imagine which ones would?
Thanks Pedrico. Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I was wondering about other states or countries where they have something similar to Special Religious Education and offer a secular alternative.
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Old 14th April 2010, 12:42 PM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

Well said David.
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Old 14th April 2010, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

I like it as I don't feel it pitches atheists against the religious, in fact it makes a point of saying it's not about religion it's about all people and humanity. Also raising the separation of church and state issue made a nice focus on the secular instead. Well done.
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Old 15th April 2010, 12:24 PM
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Default Re: Ethics classes not "an attack on religion"

According to a commenter on Russell Blackford's blog, MPs are getting a lot of emails opposing the ethics classes. We should send some in support.

BTW, on the St James Ethics Centres site there is information and suggestions as to how to support the trial.
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