The organisations providing religious instruction in public schools have become quite defensive in their reaction the comments from concerned parents in the media. Simon Greening, current Churches Education Commission Chief Executive claims their purpose is not missionary. They don’t wish to convert children to Christianity, just teach them values. Their aim is to “educate not evangelise.”
Problem is this current story conflicts with their earlier stories, and with the recorded aims of their organisation. Recently one of their newsletters described schools as an “under-utilised mission field”:
“Churches by and large have not woken up to the fact that this is a mission field on our doorstep. The children are right there and we don’t have to supply buildings, seating, lighting or heating, . .”
And they also encouraged Christian followers to join school boards so they could have “more influence” on holding religious study in class.
Their current claims also look very disingenuous when you peruse their registration as a charity to get tax exemption. (Yes, we are subsidising their activities*). The Churches Education Commission Trust Board describes its charitable purpose, or the main sector under which they registered, as “religious activities” – that is the advancement of religion. Its main activity is providing “religious services / activities,” and its main beneficiaries are “Children / young people.”
They amplify their declared purpose in the rules provided for registration:
“The Commission’s Charitable Purpose is to advance education in New Zealand and to advance the Christian faith in New Zealand. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Commission will seek to achieve its Charitable Purpose by:
(a) stimulating, servicing, supporting and co-ordinating the efforts of member churches and related organisations engaged in Christian and general education in New Zealand;
(b) promoting and undertaking Christian religious education programmes in New Zealand;
(c) by generally providing and assisting with the provision of Christian religious education in New Zealand schools and the wider community;
(d) developing and supporting chaplaincy in New Zealand schools;
(e) encouraging people to be involved as informed Christians in education as professionals, as parents, or as other citizens.”
I don’t think there is any doubt about it. Their main purpose is “Christian religious education” and advancement of “the Christian faith in New Zealand.”
They don’t include advancement of human values in any of their documents. Clearly they have just taken opportunist advantage of the inclusion of values in the secular curriculum of New Zealand’s public schools to advance their own religious agenda.
They really are treating these secular public schools as a “mission field.”
Should we be allowing people who are this disrespecting of the truth, and covert with their intentions, teach values to our children?
*Actually this organisation also gets other public money. Their last financial returns shows they received four grants totally $12,880 from Internal Affairs Community Organisation Grants Scheme for their work in the Auckland region. They must have been “pulling the wool” to get those grants because they are not meant to fund “Projects seeking to promote commercial, political or religious objectives.”