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Created By: mumof6
Views: 1921 views
Comments: 40
Topic : Bible Lessons in Schools
mumof6 - `10` `2012-07-17 09:09:06`  

The question is being raised today whether bible lessons belong in public schools. My kids have bible lessons for a few weeks over 1 term which we can opt out of. I do think religion should be touched on in schools but it should cover all religions and not just one religion, which is primarily discussed at our Primary.


Here's the link -


What do you think, should religion be taught in Public Schools?

Comments (40)
drelly - 11:18 AM Fri-10-Mar-2017
Im a few years late but I just found this topic when searching for info about RI classes. Theres a few things that were claimed in this thread that are either misleading or not true. Hopefully this is of use to anyone finding it. You can learn more at The CEC syllabus is not and never has been approved by the Ministry of Education. In fact they were censured by the advertising standards authority in 2007 for claiming it was. 2. Religious instruction (bible lessons) are not teaching ABOUT Christianity. They are indoctrinating in Christian religious faith. There is never any discussion of the possibility that none of it is true. 3. It is not all about teaching values. That is incredibly misleading. Children are taught that god exists, that he made them and the world, that the bible is the source of all knowledge about god and they are encouraged to pray to him.4. NZ is not a Christian country. Less than half of all NZers are Christian and that figure is rapidly dropping. NZ has no state religion and our primary schools are supposed to be secular (non-religious).5. The official school curriculum includes values teaching already. I think its insulting for religious groups to tell us that we need them to teach us values.Why on earth should ANY religious group (Christian or otherwise) be granted access to spread their religious beliefs to kids in a tax-payer-funded, secular state primary school???
Guest Member - 9:20 PM Sat-18-May-2013
I have just read Helen Bradstocks accademic paper on the subject following quote from her paper, sums up how I feel: "So how does a situation arise where 21st century New Zealand primary school children do not learn about the religions of the world, but are instead likely to attend a Christian formation class at school? A situation which would now be unthinkable‘"Its 2013! Time we grew up and stopped forcing our religious beliefs on others.
Guest Member - 5:40 PM Thu-21-Feb-2013
I think most people would agree that teaching ABOUT religion at an appropriate age, is desirable. However, the situation we have at the moment where aprox 40% of NZ primary schools close, often without telling parents, so that a single religion can be taught as the one and only truth is very WRONG. We opted our daughter out of Religious Instruction numerous times, but the school kept putting her back in. When we finally got them to respect out opt-out they sat her in the corner on the floor, by herself and she thought she was being punished. I know of other opted out children who have been made to pick up rubbish and wash dishes.Religion is such a personal issue and it is hard for teachers not to let their feeling affect how they treat children. Keep Religion where it belongs at home, in social studies and history classes.
Guest Member - 4:03 PM Tue-14-Aug-2012

Many thanks to those who have responded. I appreciate your help with my research.


jopukeko - 8:55 AM Tue-14-Aug-2012
i am happy for my comments to be used.
JulieKidspot - 8:53 AM Tue-14-Aug-2012
Helen, as long as the member has agreed below or in an email to you then it is fine for you to use their comments.
chidsmum - 1:34 PM Mon-6-Aug-2012
I am happy for my post to be used if its ok with kidspot.
Guest Member - 5:19 PM Wed-25-Jul-2012

I am a PhD student at Otago University researching the area of religion in state primary schools in NZ. If you would like to email me with your views on the place of religion in schools, or if you have experiences relevant to the research, I would be very happy to hear from you. Your comments may be used (anonymously) as part of my thesis or in future publications.

I am also seeking permission to use the posts below (again, anonymously) as examples of attitudes towards teaching about relgion in schools. I'd be grateful if you could post to say whether you are happy for me to do so. Many thanks,

Helen Bradstock

chidsmum - 1:42 PM Mon-23-Jul-2012

I would like to see it as relegious studies. where Children are given a brief insight into some of the common religions. Eg Christian, Hindu, Mormon etc.. Just enough to cover  that all People have a right to choose any faith but all & any are acceptable. I am not of any religion but have explained to my Daughter the concept of God/Jesus & told her there are many ways people beleive in him or that it is fine & another choice not to beleive at all.

I don't know how this would work or what age but it sits better with me than just exposure to one religion. I think when the time comes I will leave her in class for the lessons but back it all up at home with a more diverse view. (Thank God/or Diety of choice for Google)

ekubo - 9:43 AM Thu-19-Jul-2012

how about because if parents are delinquent in teaching about sexuality their children's lives are likely to be heavily impacted. Those kids have kids and become a long term drain on the nation's finances. Or they pick up STIs and put pressure on our limited medical funding. It's important information and learning for all kids no matter what their backgrounds, ethnicity, religion or lack thereof.

If children are not taught about christianity or the bible what happens? Well, nothing really.

Our nation was also founded on sexism and racism. Shall we start teaching those in schools too or are they safely left in the hands of the parents.?

amber - 9:57 PM Wed-18-Jul-2012
I do think that "Bible in school" should be available to all students, but with the provision that parents can allow their children to opt out. To me it seems that "we" are happy to have our children taught about sex education and other things that use to be the parents task, so why not Christianity which our nation was founded on.
Guest Member - 9:25 PM Wed-18-Jul-2012
Religion does not belong in public schools. That's what church is for. Or go private tuition, read bible before bed if you like. But school lessons should be based on relevant, factual material. Our modern day NZ is so multicultured and there are too many different religions to give them all equal weighting.
ekubo - 1:47 PM Wed-18-Jul-2012

I think bible lessons have no place in primary schools. Teaching about religions and cultures is one thing, bible lessons another altogether.


If you want your child to be raised within a faith that's your prerogative and your responsibility. NZ is a secular society and needs to have secular state education to be inclusive of all our cutures and faiths.


The current curriculum includes values and ethics, they form an important part of planning and teaching. Being a good citizen of the class and school, kindness, inclusiveness, the benefits of application, honesty, having an inquiring mind etc. Values do not have to be couched in any particular creed or religion.


My sons' school does have bible lessons. I was quite put out when the first I knew of this was my eldest son coming home spouting Jesus this and Jesus that. I had words with the principal about informing and asking consent first! I did consider pulling him out but decided in the end that it would be good for him to have some exposure to religion and religious thought, and that we'd use it as an opening to discuss our own feelings about religion with him.


After the first year or so when he blindly believed and absorbed everything that was told to him (I'm sure it's not coincidence that this is the age group they choose for bible lessons) he's become much more critical and discerning, much to my relief.


I'm much more comfortable with christianity and other religions being explored by older children in a social studies context than with teaching young children a particular religion or with religious studies usurping moral and values education.

Gillymama - 1:43 PM Wed-18-Jul-2012
I have no problem with it. I think the moral standards have gone way down over the years, and the good values and morals & life lessons taught through some of the basic bible stories will stand strong forever. Many children grow up without even learning these values/morals from their parents, so I think a few lessons will do more good than harm. Its also hardly intense biblical/christian teaching is it? I don't see any other 'religion' or class at school teaching our kids about values, morals and standards...
Guest Member - 1:40 PM Wed-18-Jul-2012
Bible in schools is very different from learning about other cultures and religions from a social studies perspective.  If people can't see the difference between children being told "Jesus loves you" and them being told "Christians believe in Jesus and that he loves everyone" then perhaps they should be sitting in on some reading comprehension classes.

It also seems to escape some that it is entirely possible to hold morals and values without a Christian tint to them!
Guest Member - 10:54 AM Wed-18-Jul-2012
I think the thing with Bible in schools is that there is a choice....but no choice or need to choose is apparent when teaching about other cultures and religions. The question has to be asked is why is teaching about Jesus so different to talking about muslim, buddist, islam etc? As a christian I try to follow the life of Jesus and the moral guidance that the bible gives...being kind to one another, serving for the betterment of the larger community, not hurting, cheating, lying and so on. Can't say we all achieve this in our lives but do think that its a good launch pads for our kids to be able to step out in the world to help make it better. It's just my thoughts but lets not get caught up in defining one religion out as unappropriate over and above others.
Guest Member - 11:56 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
Since when did a parent or teacher need a bible to teach children good values, making positive choices and respect for other people.  I teach my children all of this without a bible and we are doing just fine.
Guest Member - 11:46 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I should add I am talking about public schools, if you send your child to a catholic school for example, then you have already made the choice to have that faith taught to them.
Guest Member - 11:43 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I do not think that it should be taught in schools.  To be honest I didn't know this still happened.  I remember having it in primary school when I was little in the good old eighties.  I think that religion is up to the parent to choose and inform.  Or in my case, when my son is old enough that he comes to me and asks if he can learn about it then that is fine.  I am not a believer and would never stop my child from learning about it when he chooses too.  I believe in being a good human being and accepting of people from all walks of life and that is what I want my child to learn.  We have so many children in NZ schools that struggle with the basics of reading, writing and maths.  This is what we should be focusing on, not religion, that should be up to the parents outside of school. 
Guest Member - 8:47 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
Wow so many divided opinions.... I think a letter to the editor in todays NZ Herald summed it up so well; our children in todays society are exposed to so many evil & harmful images (often disguised) & many parents don't even bat an eyelid, so why are so many people so anti something that is instilling positive ideas & giving young people tools to help them cope with life as they grow older. A bible in school teacher shared a story from one of her past pupils who contacted her after he had tried to take his life. He said that as he was attempting to do so, a song she had taught him many years ago came to mind, "Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!" Where might he be today had that idea not been introduced to him at that impressionalbe age? Regardless of religion, & by the way Christianity is not a religion, all religions pretty much teach the same core values loving, caring etc & principles. We also forget that New Zealand's core faith was founded on Christian principles, think about the words in our National Anthem. Parliament even opened each day with a prayer to God which has really beautiful words & would have an effect on this nation if only we believed them. My argument is why should we as a country built on the Christian faith cease to be true to our heritage. Immigrants are lucky that NZ is so accepting of their  religious beliefs because in other parts of the world Christians are tortured & killed for theirs.  I am 100% behind bible lessons in schools & can't wait for my daughter to come under this umbrella when she starts school in September!
Guest Member - 7:06 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012

CEC (church education commision) which trains most NOT ALL teachers, has a detailed curriculum which has been approved by schools and education department, the teachers who are all volunteers are trained in the curriculum and what to say and what not to talk about, we are also police checked and require a letter of recommendation from our church paster or leader, also we are observed and accessed in the classroom within the first year and again every 3-5 years.  If my kids come home talking about the devil i would complain as well as this is not what CRE teachers should be teaching but please don't give up on the class because of one bad incident.  The classes are heaps of fun and you can always use it as a chance to discuss your own beliefs with your children.  Also the kids may have workbooks which you can look through to see exactly what topics are being covered.

I encourage the kids in my class to question and discuss my lessons and always direct them to their parents to find out what the believe.  As an example of how valued based the lessons are, i am planning my lesson for tomorrow which is about Loving and caring for each other, using the story of Jesus teaching to love your enemies, so talking about how to be nice to people you might not like.  This is not teaching religion but just good behaviour and values using Jesus as a clever insightful teacher.  No hell or sin or anything most parents would be concerned about.

LIVINGLIFE - 6:33 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I think bible in schools is not what our children should be taught as if you want to you can go to church to learn religion, what should be taught is self esteem, interactign with peers, how to respect differences and so on.
jopukeko - 5:11 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
The school is officially closed during Bible in Schools. The last school I taught at 95% of children attended the classes. The few that didn't were taught virtues. These children were Jehoviah Witnesses, Momon, Muslium or some other faith. Other schools I have taught at parents that were Jehoviah Witnesses would come and take the JW children for a special lesson during Bible in Schools.As a parent I am happy for my children to attend Bible in Schools. Most of it is teaching good values and Bible stories. As long as parents have the choice I'm happy for it to be part of their schooling.
Guest Member - 4:34 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
"another thing left to parents"?  Seriously?  Can't imagine why we'd expect parents do actually parent, eh?
thecoffeelady - 3:10 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I think it is up to the parents to teach children bible lessons. I am a christian myself but I know there are different 'types' of christians and I wouldn't want my children having the lessons at school, if they were just teaching morals that is a different story, someone mentioned their child learning that the devil was a voice in his head and that doesn't sound right to me.
Guest Member - 3:03 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I don't think it should just be one religion talked about, I think the kids need to look into all religions as you would look at a classroom and it is mixed with everyone. I hated having sit in at those classes it was boring and said the same things I personally thought it more exciting siting out side waiting for the class to finish. I'm not anti I just think we need to think about the different cultures and beliefs. Maybe kids will start understanding and be interested in other culture, might even reduce the bulling. But just a thought.
angelnshan - 2:40 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
yes i do think it should be taught my daughter is yr 4 and has had no bible lessons how can our chilldren make up there own mind on religion if theyve never been taught anything about it? another thing left to parents! also why are chilldren forced to learn maori but not allowed the choice on religion seems silly to me
SandraA - 2:37 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
My problem with the lessons is that although they claim to be teaching values only, it is done using bible stories and christian references. Surely teaching our children good morals and values can be done with benign topics. Children of this age take most things literallly, so when my son came home telling me that the devil is the voice he hears in his head, and started having nightmares about the voices in his head, I removed him promptlly from the class. I had issues with the CRE classes before my son joined the class, but when I raised them I was assured it was just teaching values and life skills, so I decided to let him participate as I had heard stories of children being victimised for not participating. The other question I have, that possibly one of the CRE teachers that have already posted could answer is, do these people who come into the school have any kind of background checks, and can they be held accountable for anything that happens during these lessons, particularly if the teacher is not present - or is it enough that they just belong to a church in the community?
Guest Member - 2:26 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012

My daughter loves bible in Schools on a Friday morning and im happy that she has the oppotunity. I'd rather she did that than classes that promote abortion as a contraceptive option!!! Our country was founded as a Christian based culture and I think the "me" culture we have now is aweful ! Maybe we should all dust off our Bibles and get back some of the basic priciples we have lost.

raglanmum - 1:45 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I definetly don't think bible lessons should be taught during school.  What should be taught, is a little information about ALL religions.  Information only, not lessons.
Guest Member - 1:18 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I would have less of an issue with it if it was taught as "Christians believe that..." rather than as fact.  My child has just started attending this year as a year 3 student, and when told something by someone in a teaching capacity, believes it to be fact, which, as a non-religious household, I have not been happy with.  It's all very well to dress it up as "values", but it's not JUST values, it's Christianity as well.  And for some of us, that is far from "fact".
Guest Member - 12:55 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I am a CEC Bible in School teacher at an Auckland primary school teaching year 5-6.  What we teach is a Christian based values program.  We have heaps of fun and discuss practical solutions to problems the kids have in their day to day life such as how to be friendly, helpful, caring, honest, have courage etc.  Many kids even in the 'nice' area that i teach in have problems that they do not discuss with parents but will talk about in my class such as parents divorces, bullying, sibling problems, friendships fall outs, death of loved ones.  I never force my beliefs on the kids and always encourage them to discuss issues and our classes with their parents.  We do use Bible stories, Christian/western history and examples for the lessons but we have very strict guidelines to follow as to what we can and can't talk about (such as heaven,hell and salvation etc).  Each teacher can't just do whatever they want in the class.  I never force the children to participate and we teach that this is what 'Christians believe' not what they should believe.  If parents have concerns about Bible in Schools lessons i would suggest going along and watching a class at your school, you might find it is not what you think.
mjchase - 12:43 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I am a "Bible In Schools" teacher for a local primary school. We cover years 2, 3 and 4 as we do not have enough volunteers to cover all the classes. The regular school teachers do not teach the lessons, but many stay in the classroom for them. The children may opt out of the sessions and go to the library in the first half hour on Friday mornings when the sessions occur. We have a curriculum which is values based and do not try to evangelise/convert children. We talk about things like sharing, caring for others, and being a good friend using Bible stories and 'real life' examples. There is a lot in the media about how teachers have more behaviour problems in the classroom and the escalation of bullying at school. I believe "Bible in Schools" has a place in schools to counteract some of this by teaching about making positive choices.
JacqIAm - 12:42 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
My kids are enrolled at the local catholic school as it's a 2 minute walk from our house, so obviously they have religion education. I think it's no harm and even though we do have many different religions in NZ we still follow a christian based style society because last time I checked Easter & Christmas are christian based public holidays which I'm sure a large percentage of NZ still acknowledge.I would support other religions educated in schools, this hopefully may prevent judgement when our kids grow up
Mamabear - 12:36 PM Tue-17-Jul-2012
No, if it is primarily covering just one religion/ belief, then it shouldn't be taught in public schools.
MumBum - 11:14 AM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I agree with radioguru, in a country with so many different religions, if it is "religious education" shouldn't the children be exposed to basic muslim/hindu/buddist beliefs along with the basic "christian" beliefs?
Also, what is basic christianity? There are so many different beliefs even within Christianity, how do you deal with conflicting beliefs such as life after death, Heaven and Hell, The Rapture, etc?
MumBum - 11:09 AM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I understand why it is taught in schools but my person opinion is that religious instruction along with sex ed is our job as parents... teachers are there for reading, writing etc but I'd rather my children get their religious and sex ed from their father and me.
Just my personal feelings on this one.
radioguru - 9:34 AM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I don't think that it should be taught in schools. New Zealand is a huge multi-cultural society, so having one religion taught in schools doesn't make sense. It's not even 'religious' studies. It's 'Christian' studies. It's currently an extra lesson that can be opt out of, but in my experience, if you don't have many children opting out teachers sometimes forget, and the child doesn't like to remind them for fear of disrupting the class, or having to be singled out. It's not fair to force children to learn specific religious beliefs (which may be different to their own beliefs) or make them a 'cast-out'.
My 8 year old is the only one in her class that has to 'sit-out' religious studies, and I hate that. If you want your child to do religious studies, send them to a religious school, or teach them your own beliefs. Don't force your beliefs onto other people's children.
Religious studies just don't belong in public schools.
stacleaning - 9:20 AM Tue-17-Jul-2012
I also do not see the problem. As you have said it should be general touching the meaning of a range of religions not just one with our country having so many different beliefs. I like how it is optional. If you have strong beliefs already or simply don't feel comfortable with your child learning such things they can be pulled out which to me is the perfect resolution for those parents who do not agree with it. I myself did not grow up in a religious family however my mother attended a catholic school and my parents were open to if we wanted to learn. Now I am grown up I am a member of a Church and at school was not interested but at least gained small knowledge.

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