Free, compulsory, and secular

 

Secular Public Education Limited is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, and is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Our primary charitable purposes are promoting or protecting human rights, promoting or opposing changes to laws, government policies or practices, and advancing education.

While advising and advocating for parents, caregivers, concerned citizens and relevant organisations Australia wide, we are actively pursuing change to government laws and policies regarding religious instruction and federally funded religious chaplains in Australian public schools. It is also our belief that many of the same government laws and policies are in breach of, and may be challenged under, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We are proud to announce that the development of our flagship project, Faith, Philosophy, and Fable – beliefs and ethics across the millennia, has commenced. Supported by exciting and engaging modular and P-12 graded multimedia resources and materials, FP&F will explore human contemplation from the earliest known manifestations some 300,000 years ago. From Middle Paleolithic burial rites and rituals through the anthropomorphic ‘Lion Man’ figurine of c. 38,000 BCE, to the Sumerian deities of the 3rd millennium BCE, Mesopotamian mythology,the development of eastern and western philosophies and belief systems and The Enlightenment, Faith, Philosophy, and Fable – beliefs and ethics across the millennia will comprehensively observe the astonishing history of human thought—the how, when, where, and why.

Please feel free to contact us regarding any concerns relating to religious instruction, chaplaincy, or any other challenges to the secular quality of your public school. You will receive a prompt response, and be discreetly assisted to the best of our ability. Should your need for advice and support be urgent, please phone 0478 030 705. For regular information and news updates, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ron Williams
Managing Director
Secular Public Education Limited

Help! North of the Tweed, public education hasn’t been secular since 1910 when Bible lessons by teachers were enshrined within the Qld Education Act. The Humanist Society of Queensland believes this legislation must be repealed. Please view and share this 6’ video.

The story so far.

In 2006, working with then Labor education minister Rod Welford and the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission, then HSQ president Zelda Bailey almost managed to have the 1910 education act Bible lessons and religious instruction provisions repealed.

On the eve of its final reading, then premier Peter Beattie abandoned the ambitious amendment, caving-in to pressure from his own backbenchers, LNP, ACL, and then federal education minister Julie Bishop.

At the time, Julie Bishop threatened to withhold “billions of dollars of funding” to Queensland education if Christian religious instruction was tampered-with, adding that any interference would result in Queensland public school students being “taught in a moral vacuum”.

In 2019, the 1910 statutory provisions for confessional Christian religious instruction and Education Queensland teacher-provided Bible lessons remain virtually unchanged. The Humanist Society of Queensland believes this is unacceptable, and it is again time to seek the repeal of anachronistic Chapter 5 of the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Act 2006.

How did we arrive here?

In 1859, the settlement of Moreton Bay separated from New South Wales to become the colony of Queensland. This would require the establishment of a new system of government, and sixteen years later in 1875, the creation of a strictly secular public school system—freed from the control of Christian churches which had overseen education since settlement.

In 1875, the first Queensland Education Act was created, providing for free, compulsory and secular public education. Queensland state schools were truly secular, not allowing any religious materials onto school grounds, with a requirement for school teachers to teach only secular material.

As the years passed, the Protestant-led ‘Bible in State Schools League’ zealously lobbied for the right to provide Bible lessons and religious instruction to Queensland state school students during school hours.

In 1910, the Queensland Government held a referendum to ask whether religious instruction to be conducted by the local priest, vicar or pastor, and Bible lessons to be provided by government school teachers, should be introduced to state schools.

Although the referendum was strenuously opposed by the Roman Catholic church, it was successful. Yes: 74,228. No: 56,681. Informal: 7,651.

Because government school teachers would be now providing Bible lessons, 1910 education act amendments included the deletion of every occurrence of the word ‘secular’, including a vital clause which read:

Secular instruction only to be given in State schools and provisional schools.

5. In State schools and provisional schools secular instruction only shall be given and no teacher shall give any other than secular instruction in any State school building.

The fact that the Queensland education act has been without this vital stipulation for over one hundred years is astonishing.

A similar ‘secular requirement’ clause exists to this day in the NSW and Victorian education acts. Its non-existence in the Queensland act has numerous disturbing consequences including intelligent design being ‘taught’ in parallel with the theory of evolution within science classes.

The provision for Queensland government-employed school teachers to conduct ‘selected Bible lessons’ in school hours remains within Chapter 5 of the Queensland Education (General Provisions) Act 2006.

Across the coming months, HSQ has strategies in place to challenge the 1910 Bible lessons and religious instruction provisions within the Queensland Education Act.

As it stands, the Queensland education act is blatantly uninclusive.

We ask—as proposed by the Queensland Teachers’ Union—that all legislated religious instruction and Bible lessons be repealed, and a requirement for strictly secular instruction be restored in line with the education acts of NSW and Victoria.

Ron Williams
President
Humanist Society of Queensland Inc.Help! North of the Tweed, public education hasn’t been secular since 1910 when Bible lessons by teachers were enshrined within the Qld Education Act. The Humanist…
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An administrative error resulted in my grade two child being enrolled in RI for term 1 of the Qld 2018 school year. I was unaware until good friday when he informed me "today is actually a very sad day mummy". Opt in would be a much better than the current opt out system but really if families want their children to receive religious instruction they can work it out in their own time. It's offensive that anyone would consider a school without RI a moral vacuum

Let's stop segregating our children according to their family's religious beliefs while they're at school. Let's make our state schools a welcoming place for all children from all religious and non-religious backgrounds. The triumph of state schooling was and should be again that it brings children of every background, every culture and every tradition *learning together*

Religion doesn't belong in the classroom, if you must do it in your own time

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