”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 –

  1. He is genuinely ignorant of the issues arising in the current debates that are raging in the public arena, or –
  2. 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 above sentiment was expressed in an article in the SMH and Age newspapers about a week ago which I only got a chance to read with care a few days ago –

Curriculum head warns against axing religion

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.

McGaw follows that red herring up by stating that he has no issues with the status quo and quashes any hopes of an actual comparative religious studies subject in the curriculum –

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 –

Creationism could slip into science classes

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.”

This is hardly a reassuring stance. Given the contempt that existing black and white rules against religious proselytising are given by Access CRE, is this meant to be a deterrent? I don’t think so. The intelligent design movement is a creeping, ever present doom hovering and waiting for even the slightest crack into which to inject its poison, and has grown appallingly in Australia over the last decade. You don’t have to be a hardened cynic to understand that a failure now to properly leash and muzzle Access CRE will only send an “all clear, full steam ahead” signal to the creationists.

This is grossly irresponsible, especially when McGaw claims to be a former science teacher. McGaw is in a perfect position to create safeguards to protect the integrity of our school curricula – and instead he is avoiding doing so. It is not necessary to prohibit murder either – the vast majority of us know it is wrong. However, that does not stop the murderers in our society murdering and there are laws. By not shutting the gates of science, you are only hanging out a welcome sign to the deranged religionist fringes that have already been invited into our schools via SRI and NSCP. These folks do nothing to dissuade corruption and deception within their ranks – the evidence is overwhelming. And they are supported by an assumed divine covenant that exempts them from any and all terrestrial laws and considerations.

THEY.CANNOT.BE.TRUSTED.

But perhaps the clearest indicator that all is not right with Professor McGaw is seen in an article at eternity.biz – reproduced here in full, given the track record of the “honest” religionists purging incriminating evidence wherever it is found –

1:00am Monday, 19th July 2010

EXCLUSIVE David Hastie Education Writer

Professor Barry McGaw, Chairperson of the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Agency (ACARA) has stated that it is “right and appropriate” for Australian Christian faith based schools to integrate the Christian worldview throughout their teaching of the incoming national Australian Curriculum.

At the recent National Christian Schools policy forum in Canberra, Professor McGaw indicated that if religious groups were allowed to establish schools, “it is appropriate to establish a school that will give them an expression of their faith” and to “commend the faith in those schools”.

Dr Paul Bergis, the head of Innaburra Christian School, asked if ‘we have permission to teach the Christian connections to history, democracy and the reformation”. Professor McGaw responded: ‘“To have a proper understanding of history, we shouldn’t deny the faith basis of the secular event”. He then went on in like manner to hear and generally affirm other suggested Christian approaches in English, Maths and History put to him by the curriculum panel, but he stopped short of directly agreeing with a more general wording of guidelines for the teaching of human origins in the science curriculum.

Professor McGaw affirmed CSA head Stephen O’Doherty’s suggestion that the Christian worldview might be implemented in the same style as the National Curriculum’s three “cross curriculum priorities” of indigenous perspectives, sustainability and Australia’s Asian engagement.

His encouragement, however, was qualified by two cautionary questions addressed to Christian schools: “What do you do to ensure students have a broader cultural view” and “How do you handle dissent?”.

While the curriculum is still in its draft phase, such broad government support for the right to express Christian worldview in throughout the curriculum is unprecedented in Australian education.

I’ll let the reader digest that for themselves. But, there is one question I really want to ask – Professor McGaw, is there something you are not telling us about yourself?

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