We strongly believe that government should be secular; that is dealing with the issues of this world rather than following a religious agenda. Our law should not give one set of beliefs privilege over another and the state should treat religious organisations the same as any other organisation. The rights of freedom of belief and freedom of expression, must be upheld as long as these are not used to undermine other people’s rights to safety and security.
The New Zealand public education system was set up to be secular and still is in most cases. There are however too many cases where those running a school try to force their own beliefs on their students through religious observance. The Education Act (1964) has incorporated a loophole to allow primary schools to “close” sections of the school for religious instruction where outside volunteers indoctrinate the children whose parents haven’t opted them out.
While public education should remain free from religious observance and instruction, it is fine to educate about religion. Teaching about different belief systems, both religious and non-religious, is important. Doing so encourages greater tolerance by broadening students understanding of other beliefs, and challenging the notion that any currently held beliefs are somehow superior to other beliefs.
We strongly believe that public education should be free, secular and available equally to all children without discrimination.