Imagine that you are a 13-year-old student in a state high school and your class is given an assignment that conflicts with your religious beliefs. What if you were told that by not completing the assignment you would fail the class? Would you be willing to take a stand for truth? Would the state education system protect your rights against religious discrimination?
A 13-year-old Christian1 at Windaroo Valley State High School (WVH)2 in Queensland, Australia, was recently confronted with this dilemma in her health and physical education class. The Sunday Mail reported that students were ‘told not to discuss the assignment with their parents and that it was to be kept in-class.’3 Deciding to take a firm stand on her Christian principles, the student refused to participate in an assignment that opposed her religious and moral beliefs and received her first-ever fail mark as a result.
When the failing grade showed up on her report card, the mother went to the school to find out what happened. Discovering that there was a concealed assignment, the mother requested a review and was shocked by the content. The assignment required students to appraise how they would cope as a minority heterosexual in a primarily homosexual community on the moon. Also included was a discussion about the origins of homosexuality.
Ironically, the school was reportedly more concerned with the students’ leak to parents than the objections to the content. Presumably, the gag-order was merely to keep parental objections at bay.
This serves little other purpose than to drive a wedge between parent and child, forcing the child to choose between two authorities in her life. The teachers are supposed to be in loco parentis (in the place of a parent), not underminers of parental authority. If teachers are concerned about parental insertion of content into the assignment, the instruction could have been outlined that the assignment be discussed with parents after completion and before submission. But there is a trend among teachers unions that parents should just get out of the way and let the ‘experts’ handle the education of their kids. Parents need to be aware of this, and to reassert their own God-given authority and obligation to instruct their children (Psalm 78:5–8, Proverbs 1:8, Ephesians 6:4).
Even worse, this assignment is part of the blatantly pro-homosexual official Queensland Education Department curriculum that all government school kids must learn — one wonders how many parents or even politicians realize what radical educrats have smuggled into the curriculum.
The Sunday Mail also reported that the school suggested to the girl’s mother, after a series of discussions, that her daughter would be better off at an independent school rather than the state education system. Many Christians would actually agree with separating school from state in this way, or via homeschooling, but as the mother’s taxes still pay for the state system, she had every right to object to this brush-off.
As a result, the child’s mother, the State Opposition, and Australian Christian Lobby requested an investigation, and their outcry caused the education system to quickly back-pedal. A spokeswoman for Education Queensland told The Sunday Mail that the assignment would be dropped from the school’s curriculum, and that they would work with the girl and her family to ‘achieve a satisfactory resolution’.6
The spokeswoman also declared that ‘alternative assessment topics’ would be made available if parents made the school aware of ‘concerns about an assignment’. One can only wonder how parents are supposed to air their concerns when the assignments are shrouded in secrecy and children are admonished from including their parents in their education!
WVH lists on its policies page, as part of the school’s self-described ‘behaviour management policy’, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.4 The Act ‘prohibits discrimination on the basis of … religious belief or religious activity’ (Ch 2 Sect 7), either directly or indirectly (Ch 2 Sect 9). So why was the failing grade assessed in the first place? Why was the child’s Christian objection not ‘tolerated’ by the teacher of ‘tolerance’?
As we have previously pointed out, the definition of tolerance has been equivocated from the traditional meaning of ‘putting up with views not especially liked without sharing them’ to a new definition espousing ‘validity and equality of all viewpoints’. The new tolerance movement, what McDowell and Hostetler call a ‘campaign of indoctrination’,7 teaches children that they have to understand, respect, and accept all values and viewpoints.
This new breed of ‘tolerance’, however, is completely intolerant of the viewpoint that other viewpoints can be morally wrong. So it is not surprising, sadly, that it is often coupled with extreme intolerance towards Christianity. This attitude was evident in the reaction of the school when they were approached by the student’s mother to find out why her daughter had been failed.
New tolerance is a movement of hypocrisy. It attempts to be all things to everyone, but winds up being nothing to anyone. While it preaches love of diversity, it actually advocates indifference, since by definition none of the various views being tolerated can be regarded as true. Its core philosophy of ‘live and let live’ therefore leaves no room for absolute truth and morality.
The ‘gay’movement is in the forefront of such hypocritically intolerant tolerance. This case is only the latest in a long line of disingenuous gay rights rhetoric where they beg for tolerance for their activities on the one hand, but advocate punishing all dissent on the other. As Thomas Sowell put it:
Furthermore, while seeking to provide a level playing field for all people; in actuality, it pigeonholes people by culture, sexual-orientation, ‘race’, gender, etc. These misguided efforts toward unity result instead in labelling, the categorizing of people into minority groups, causing further separation between people. In the culture that wants to treat everyone equally, we can only wonder why anyone would embrace a mindset so diametrically opposed to equality.
While most Australians were shocked at this blatant denial of religious freedom, American parents have been facing the same oppression. We recently wrote about a Christian valedictorian (dux) who dared to thank Jesus in her valedictory address, but the school hierarchs switched her microphone off (see Erring on the side of censorship: US government schools are becoming Christ-free zones). And liberal activist courts have declared that the parents’ right to control what their children are taught ‘does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door’.
Jesus said, ‘Whoever is not with me is against me’ (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23), as well as ‘For the one who is not against us is for us’ (Mark 9:40, cf. Luke 9:50). Combining these, it is clear that there is no middle ground, no such thing as ‘neutrality’ when it comes to Him!
Thus it really should not have been a surprise when schools went from quite Christian to ‘neutral’ (my own state school had Bible readings and hymns at assembly, helped by a godly principal) that the ‘neutrality’ would not last long before it became outright hostility to Christianity. And not only is neutrality an unstable equilibrium, it is like a vacuum, with something rushing in to fill the void. So when Christianity was expunged, the religious vacuum was not thus voided, but filled with another religion, atheistic humanism.8 And foundational to this religion is molecules-to-man evolution, itself admitted to have always been a religion.
Also, Proverbs 1:7 says ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,’ and Proverbs 9:10 says, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,’ so expunging Christianity from children’s education is not ‘neutral’ but a frontal attack on these teachings.
So how did this hostility take hold so strongly? A major reason is a widespread failure in the Church to develop a Christian mind, so instead many Christians treat Christianity and science/real world as separate entities that never mix. For a while, they can seem to co-exist, with lovely noises about how Christianity is about faith and morals while science is about the real world. But such a fallacious fact-value distinction is inherently unstable. Eventually the secular world is no longer content to leave Christians free to practise their morality. Thus we see the increasingly ruthless attempt to force approval of homosexual behaviour onto Christian students and penalize dissent.
Knowing the root of a problem is essential to finding a cure. At CMI, we aim to help Christians to love God with all their minds, as Jesus commanded, and develop a Christian world view that recognizes that Christianity is ‘total truth’. That is, truth in everything the Bible affirms, whether faith and morals, or biology and geology.