An Auckland father’s case against school Bible classes has been ended by the Supreme Court. Auckland father Jeff McClintock sued an Auckland school after they persisted in placing his daughter in Bible worship classes without his consent.
The classes, called “Values in Action”, are taken by Church volunteers during school time and involved Bible reading and songs praising Jesus such as “Thank you Lord” and “He is King”.
“I opted-out, I spoke to the teachers, I wrote to the Principal, I spoke at Board meetings, but they just kept placing Violet back in the sessions.” said McClintock. McClintock also took the Attorney-General to the court because he wanted a declaration that forced religious worship in public schools was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.
“When we did opt-out, Violet was usually isolated at the back of a class. The Bible kids played games and sang songs next-door. She was supposed to be learning, not feeling punished.”
Mr McClintock claims:
* The school breached his daughters right to “opt-out” of Religious classes under the Education Act (EA 1964 s79).
* That promoting only one religion, the school undermines parents’ right to determine their own childs “religious denomination and practice” (Care of Children Act).
* That Bible sessions interrupting normal class time failed to “ensure that all students attain the highest possible standard in educational achievement” (Education Act 1989 s75)
* That prayer and Bible worship are inconsistent with: the requirement that state schools provide entirely secular education. (EA 1964 s 77), the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of religion (Bill of Rights Act and Human Rights Act) and inconsistent with the intention of the Education Act (the education of people).
Red Beach School complained in the High Court that “The allegations made by Mr McClintock have attracted unwelcome publicity and caused uncertainty.” and the case was struck off after delays caused by joining a parents group, the Secular Education Network (SEN) to the case resulted in Mr McClintocks lawyer, Richard Francois filing paperwork late.
In June 2016, the Court of Appeal reinstated that case, saying “The Board wants prompt finality. However, that uncertainty will not be removed by the order striking out Mr McClintock’s claim because he is free to file a fresh proceeding with the prospect of starting the same process over again.” But the court added the condition that McClintock had to reach “Full and final settlement” with the school before the case could continue.
“By refusing to reach a reasonable settlement, the school has now stalled the case indefinitely. It seems unfair to let Red Beach School off without ever facing trial” said McClintock.
McClintock appealed the decision to the Supreme Court on the basis that by allowing the school to stall the case, McClintock was denied his right to be heard. The Supreme Court has rejected McClintock request for appeal and the school is now claiming costs against McClintock of over $24,000. The case is now unlikely to ever be heard.
Donations to McClintock’s costs can be made through the donation link on the web page of the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists, www.reason.org.nz. To earmark a donation for this purpose, mention Jeff McClintock or the Secular Education Network in the “special instructions” window.