Prayer groups banned in schools

LUNCHTIME prayer and bible study groups run by teachers or volunteers have been banned at state schools in Victoria under a new education department policy.

The ban prohibits any prayer groups, bible studies, information sessions or workshops related to Christianity or any other religious practice, with an exception for students to pray individually according to their personal belief.

Under the newly signed Ministerial Direction MD141- Special Religious Instruction in Public Schools, students would also be forbidden from advertising church or religious events, or even from simply giving their friends a Christian music DVD or bible.

Furthermore, students would be unable to use a diary with a Bible verse or religious image on it.

The new policy has angered religious groups who say it could be in breach of human rights and religious freedom.

The ban, which has taken many by surprise, came into effect on July 14, as part of changes to the controversial special religious instruction requirements.

The policy says legislation requires that government schools are secular and special religious instruction is the only exception to this. The distribution of religious texts such as the Bible or Koran by any person is also prohibited.

A Victorian Education Department spokesman said students were free to bring religious materials to school.

Students could also form lunchtime religious clubs among themselves if permitted by the school but representatives from religious organisations or parents were not permitted to run them.

But the new guide says that Student Initiated Activities (SRI):

Cannot and does not take the form of prayer groups, youth groups, clubs, information sessions, or workshops. Legislation requires that Government schools are secular, and the only exception to secular education in government schools is SRI delivered in accordance with the Act, MD141 and this policy.

Any other forums or activities as noted above, would constitute promotion of specific religions in schools outside SRI, and are not permitted. For the avoidance of doubt, students engaging in prayer in observation of their religion at lunchtimes is not SRI as there is no element of ‘instruction’. Such prayer cannot be led, conducted by or at the instruction of staff or parents/visitors/volunteers. For further advice please contact the Legal Division.

Principals must ensure that no religious programs, plays, events or activities run or conducted by any external religious organisations or individuals are offered or provided in government schools during school hours.

Principals must not permit material, whether associated with SRI or not, to be distributed or displayed at a Government school if that material has the effect of promoting any particular religious practice, denomination or sect. This includes the distribution of religious texts (eg Bibles) by any person or organisation whether accredited SRI providers or not.

When advertising events or activities in school newsletters or on school premises, principals should be mindful of the requirement in the Act that government schools must not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect


The Make a Stand Organisation Website is quoted as observing the following (http://www.makeastand.org.au/campaign/more_information.php?campaign_id=60)

Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act & Equal Opportunity Act

This attempt to eliminate any expression of religion by students at school is contrary to the Charter which guarantees human rights including freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly to all people including school students.

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28 thoughts on “Prayer groups banned in schools

    • Yeah look at the Abbott back down on free speech laws – apparently because they were afraid of getting some Muslim groups off side (according to some reports).

      I take it Dom that as you’re such a champion of human rights you’ll be immediately contacting your federal representative to strongly campaign for the repeal of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act ??

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  1. Pingback: Prayer groups banned in schools | Christians Anonymous

  2. Perhaps Sunday Schools are the way of the future. Good that there is no move to ban Christian schools or schools run by other religions.

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    • Well past time there was. Religious schools are, among other things, a perversion ~ especially of the young ~ that belong back in the dark ages along with other child-abuse activities.

      Superstition and ignorance has no place in an allegedly civilised society ~ and are no more than a mutual-admiration society for the stupid and otherwise inadequate…..and a hotbed for the teaching of hypocrisy.

      Last week two kids (and their dog ~ up in your neck of the woods Strewth) died because they were trying to shelter from the cold in their car; and the local priest expressed (on tv) his handwringing sorrow that such things are allowed to happen…whilst standing outside a church that could’ve sheltered a couple of hundred such people.
      I picked up a couple with a small child walking along the freeway late last night, because their car had broken down and they couldn’t pay the price demanded to tow it to a garage, let alone repair it.
      They were trying to walk to a relative’s house about 200km away and, despite the effort of walking as fast as they could, were shivering from the cold.
      In the couple of hours they’d been afoot not a single christian had stopped to see if they needed a hand. Not ONE…out of thousands that zipped past at 110kmh.

      Bloody typical!
      How many of you well-indoctrinated smug godbotherers have opened your house ~ or even a garage or woodshed ~ to any of the THOUSANDS of people sleeping under bushes or shop doorways in YOUR district during these bitterly cold nights?

      Yeah right!
      ….but it’s important to train future generations of kids in your christian values.
      Isn’t it?
      Priorities are important, after all.
      You never DO really wonder what Jesus would say ~ nor even give a stuff ~ do you.
      …particularly if it’s inconvenient.

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      • “You never DO really wonder what Jesus would say ~ nor even give a stuff ~ do you.
        …particularly if it’s inconvenient.”

        I think Jesus would be a lot fairer in His judgment of Christians than you Dabs. Your disdain for us is on a par with your disdain for Israel. Phillip George is starting to make sense when he asks why do we still put up with your crap after all these years.

        Yeah, Christians are flesh and blood and DO miss the mark at times, but to bring a charge against us that we would rather build our kingdom than help the poor and homeless is hateful and simply not true.

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      • Dabbles :-
        A long time ago I use to hitch hike for the fun of meeting people and ending at places many would not stop and walk along.
        I have been given lifts by many people.
        From elderly couples ,truck drives ,farmers,loggers ,Les Girls [thee in a car and they stopped to test my reaction they were fun ] and many many more.
        Got lifts on motorbikes,semitrailers,E type and other jags,Rolls,Porche,Mini cooper [lowed fully racing equipped on the great ocean road] and almost every car make that passed bye.
        One guy about 22 years[my age at that time] in Double Bay stopped his
        Mercedes red convertible with white leather trim.
        He said his daddy bought it for him he was not really a Mercedes driver his Daddy drives a Rolls
        That was the “ONLY” Mercedes that ever stopped and gave me a lift .
        At that time those who drove Mercedes where the most unpleasant stuck up
        rectums .
        Rolls often stopped and when I informed them that they fully understood
        what type drove Mercedes.with a laugh.

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      • What you said is hurtful Dabs,

        Because I personally know many Christians who open their houses up to the homeless, and you bet it’s bloody inconvenient! One marriage even broke up over it, because the wife couldn’t handle her husband bringing home drunks all the time. And I know many other Christians who give generously to the homeless, both of their time and money. Blood, sweat and tears, in fact! Lots of tears……

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  3. another loss of free speech Christians must stand up, let your local member know; that;s if he or she is not to busy on some junket trip somewhere, though because of the election you might be able to find them in the electorate trying to stay on the gravy train. concerned Christian.

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  4. Funny how decades ago the RC church put up a long battle and by secret deals behind closed doors and eventually ended a Australian charter on free speech and rights .
    The saw it was a treat in their ability to gain money being something to do with “SCHOOLS”.
    At the time people like Bryan kept their mouths shut .
    Better to uphold the church than give people more rights.
    Aaah and that has been the game from thousands of years .

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    • It worked on the principle of telling half truths ,with holding information .Stifling debate then serving self interested groups .
      The charter was a attempt to have a massive improvement in rights for Australians .
      The churches were possibly going to be losers .
      Their lawyers and accountants could see a problem.

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    • 1890s—The Australian Constitution is drafted. It includes a limited range of rights.
      1944—A referendum on freedom of speech and freedom of religion fails.
      1973—Federal Attorney-General Lionel Murphy introduces a human rights Bill into parliament. It is never passed.
      1981—The Commonwealth Human Rights Commission Act 1981 is passed.
      1984—Senator Gareth Evans drafts a human rights Bill, but it is never introduced into parliament.
      1985—Senator Lionel Bowen’s human rights Bill passes the House of Representatives but stalls in the Senate.
      1988—A referendum on extending constitutional rights to the states fails.

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      • Search Results
        [DOC]
        NHRCR – Bill of rights debates: a historical overview
        http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtections/HumanRights/…/NHRCR-Billofrig...

        10 Bill of rights debates: a historical overview. The questions of whether and how human rights should be protected in Australia have been the subject of debate

        PART FOUR – A Human Rights Act?

        10.4 Why did previous attempts fail?
        Although there are many reasons why these previous attempts failed, what is common to all the attempts is the impact they had on state power. The 1944 and 1988 constitutional amendments sought to constrain state power by reference to particular rights. The legislative attempts either imposed obligations on state authorities or affected the operation of state legislation, albeit to varying degrees. Although commentators acknowledge that many factors were at play during the debates over these Bills, they point to federal–state dynamics as an important element of the controversy.

        One commentator has attributed the progressive weakening of the Bills in large part to ‘federal pressures’: ‘Some of the States predicted a dismantling of the federation because of the erosion of their rights’. She noted that one concern in relation to Evans’s proposal was the Human Rights Commission’s ability to investigate state action and that the sole successful attempt at legislative protection—the Human Rights Commission Act 1981 (Cth)—was passed only because it did not affect state legislation.

        The second main reason for the failure of the various attempts is that they were seen to transfer power from a democratically elected parliament to an ‘unelected’ judiciary. Under the Murphy Bill both individuals and the Human Rights Commission were able to bring court actions, and there was a wide range of potential remedies available. Under all the Bills courts could declare legislation inconsistent with the Bill, with the consequence that it would be rendered inoperative.
        . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
        Conclusion
        Victoria and the ACT are not alone in having passed human rights Acts: in fact, they both drew heavily from other human rights legislation around the world. Chapter 11 compares the Victorian and ACT human rights Acts with Acts that have been adopted in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada.

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      • Hi Strewth our founding fathers clearly intended for parliamentary sovereignty to be the primary model rather than a bill of rights. It seems to have worked for a couple of centuries now – should it be changed?

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