Trevor Mallard ignored legal problems with religion in schools

Who is taking who for a walk?

The Ministry of Education identified that religious instruction in state schools might be discriminatory more than 16 years ago, but chose to take no action.

The identification was included in a 2001 confidential internal report to then Education Minister Trevor Mallard, on inconsistencies between the Human Rights Act and Education Act.

The ministry fought for nearly two years to keep parts of the report referring to religious instruction secret, citing legal privilege, but was forced to release the full version by the Ombudsman.

Forcing atheist and non-Christian students to either attend classes that were against their beliefs, or exclude themselves, could be “indirect discrimination”, the ministry’s legal department said in the report.

It’s quite a wedge.  Kids that are barely 7 or 9 years old are put in a position where their friends are different from them.  Some get to learn about God, others don’t.  So are not allowed to go into that room with their friends.  Their friends then come out later and talk about shared experiences others aren’t part of.

The ministry could argue there was “good reason” for indirect discrimination, the report said, but that defence would not work if someone was to argue “direct discrimination”.

Mr Mallard said he remembered the report, and was hopeful at the time religious instruction in state schools would grow.

“I thought the amount of discrimination was negligible, and the overall value of the religious education was something that individual principals and boards of trustees should make decisions on, not central government.”

He said he hoped over time it would become “not so much as sort of evangelising for a particular religion but to look at comparative religion and different value systems”.

What a load of rubbish.  Religious instruction in schools are very clearly carried out to support the preferred faith system of the schools.

The whole “comparative religion” idea is very nice, but unless it is in the curriculum for all schools, who would reasonably expect Christian schools to teach anything other than Christian faith?

Do you imagine Islamic schools to be teaching Christianity Trevor?

You were past your due-date back then, and you’re no use now.  This election should see the back of you.



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