”I don’t see anything wrong with a special religious instruction that operates precisely on [the current] grounds. If we deny any place to religion in public education and wish to make it entirely [secular], we are actually basing it on a particular world view.”
Sound familiar? It should. It probably just looks unusual unaccompanied by any extended frothing about fundamentalist atheists, militant secularists, christophobes (or similar epithets) bent on destroying christianity itself. But other than that, it is the same tired, casuist misrepresentation that is framing the debate as one of absolute anti-theism vs. the decent christian world and not one of a protest against SRI and the NSCP being hijacked by incorrigible liars from various non-representative christian cults of the crusading, charismatic, snake-handling variety. This is the only real card the Access apologists have to play because the less that the average, census ticking Australian christian family knows about what folks like Access Ministries get up to in our schools, or what their “education” consists of, the better.
The problem with the above quote though is that it’s not from an actual (known) Access apologist/shill, but from Professor Barry McGaw who heads up the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) – who are ultimately responsible for the curricula in Australian schools from Kindergarten to Year 12.
For Professor McGaw to blurt out such a piece of disingenuous nonsense there are only two real possibilities -
- He is genuinely ignorant of the issues arising in the current debates that are raging in the public arena, or -
- Worse, he is aware of the issues and is knowingly adding his voice of authority to the Access FUD campaign and has an undisclosed vested interest in the matter
However, this is something that is impossible to gauge as McGaw has a squeaky clean public resume and web presence.
THE man in charge of Australia’s national curriculum insists there is no problem with the way religious instruction is taught in Victoria, and warns that any moves to axe religion classes could drive parents out of the public system and into private schools.
Professor McGaw, however, said there were no plans to develop a separate subject on religion.
Instead, he said, he was comfortable with the current model, known as SRI, or Special Religious Instruction.
Thus the irony, of course, is that it is McGaw himself, and not the wicked secularists, that is creating this unwanted dichotomy for religious studies to be either conducted the Access way or, the only other alternative, which he himself dismissed, of no religion at all. There’s really nothing positive to take away from the man at all, unless you are an active Access acolyte.
McGaw has made previous utterances that are even less comforting -
Australian Education Digest 4/3/2010 [165kb .pdf]
Professor McGaw [Chairman of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority] said it was not necessary to prohibit the teaching of creationism as science in the national curriculum.
“Our curriculum will not justify teaching creationism. It is not our intention that intelligent design or other [metaphysical] explanations of origins be taught as part of science.”
This was part of the same discussion reported in the SMH and Age -
Professor McGaw said it was not necessary to prohibit the teaching of creationism as science in the national curriculum.
”We are not writing prohibitions,” he said. ”Our curriculum will not justify teaching creationism.
”We are saying what is science. It is not our intention that intelligent design or other [metaphysical] explanations of origins be taught as part of science. Schools can teach them if they want, but not as part of science.”