back to top
Monday, June 17, 2024
9.3 C
Sydney

Minister’s tactic: Your money or your faith

Most read

Brisbane school Citipointe Christian College’s embrace of traditional Christian moral principles at the beginning of the year landed it in hot water. Now the state’s Education Minister appears to have it - and all other faith-based schools - squarely in her sights. Photo: Swadge2/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
Brisbane school Citipointe Christian College’s embrace of traditional Christian moral principles at the beginning of the year landed it in hot water. Now the state’s Education Minister appears to have it – and all other faith-based schools – squarely in her sights. Photo: Swadge2/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Queensland’s Minister for Education looks set to target non-government schools over faith-based moral views

At the beginning of this year, Citipointe Christian College in Brisbane found itself embroiled in public controversy and a media storm after it issued a statement of faith that declared any form of sexual immorality including adultery, pre-marital sex and homosexual acts as destructive to human relationships and society.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace described the statement of faith as “distressing” and “unacceptable,” and referred the matter to the Non-State Schools Accreditation Board for investigation.

The Board’s review appeared to be prioritised because it began just days after the matter was referred by the Minister. A school found to be in breach of its legislative obligations could have its government funding and even its accreditation as a school placed at risk.

- Advertisement -

While the results of the Board review into Citipointe have not been made public, it does not appear that any sanctions have been imposed on the school.

Last week, Minister Grace announced an ‘independent review’ of the framework that governs the accreditation of non-state schools in Queensland, with the possibility of strengthening the powers of the Board.

It’s hardly a coincidence that a review was announced after what seems to be an inability or unwillingness of the Board to act against Citipointe.

Minister Grace did not need to name the school as the reason for this latest review; almost every media outlet did it for her.

She did, however, say that the terms of reference would include “the health and wellbeing of all students” and the publicly available terms of reference mention legislation and government policy relating to “privacy and human rights.”

If that wasn’t blatant enough, the terms of reference also seek to identify the powers and functions of the Board needed to “maintain public confidence in the operation of non-state schools in Queensland, including consideration of whether these enable a flexible approach to adapt to community standards as required from time to time.”

In other words, the Board will now be invited to consider the accreditation of non-government schools (including Catholic schools) against government policy on human rights, the ever-expanding categories of health and wellbeing, and the evolving world of “community standards.”

“Schools will then be given a choice: lose your funding or water down the moral teachings to a level that suits the Board.”

Freddy can see that the submissions to this review will say that by calling homosexual activity sinful, the human rights of LGBTQI students are being denied, their mental health and wellbeing made to suffer, and that such teachings fall well below community standards of acceptable belief.

No doubt, the review will recommend that the Board be given the power to remove or reduce government funding from schools that persist in teaching an orthodox Christian perspective on life and marriage, gender and sexuality, and even threaten the removal of their accreditation as schools altogether.

Schools will then be given a choice: lose your funding or water down the moral teachings to a level that suits the Board.

Many will say that the Bishops and the leaders of other faithful, Christian schools should do another Goulburn strike, close all the schools and see how the public system deals with the influx of students.

While I have sympathy for that view, I’m not sure the education bureaucrats would think this was a bad thing.

Moreover, I think it unlikely that the targets of this review are the vast network of Catholic, systemic schools or the large, organised Christian schools associations, and certainly the review is not aimed at those independent Catholic schools that long ago gave up the ghost on teaching anything that closely resembles Catholic teaching on life, marriage and family.

Rather, I think the first to feel the effects of this review will be the small, independent Catholic and other Christian schools that hold firm to Christian teaching on these matters.

These small schools may not have the resources of the big education bodies to defend themselves, nor the funds to litigate, and so will either be forced to close or to abandon their ethos.

Either way, the Queensland Government gets its way. If the small, faithful schools close, it can still champion its commitment to school choice (but just without those pesky, orthodox schools teaching dangerous ideas). If they cave in and bend a knee to the rainbow flag, the Government also gets its way.

The only way to “win” these types of so-called independent reviews is to refuse to participate in the first place on the basis that they are an attack on religious freedom. That’s the new Goulburn.

Related Articles:

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -