Playgrounds become a “no Jesus” zone

Queensland ban on kids talking about why you should be a Christian

“Queensland education officials have moved to ban references to Jesus in the primary school yard, with an unofficial policy that takes take aim at junior evangelists,” is how The Australian reports on a new move by the state’s Education Department.

Eternity reported that this policy was being looked at as part of a review of Religious Instruction material produced by Christian groups Godspace, ACCESS Ministries and the Connect material from Anglican Youthworks in Sydney.

UPDATE: The Queensland government says there’s been no change in a statement issued this morning.

“There had been no change to religious instruction policy in Queensland schools said education Minister Kate Jones.

“Ms Jones said the Palaszczuk Government supported religious instruction in state schools in consultation with parents.

“’No one is telling a child what they can and can’t say in the playground,” she said.

“”There has been no change to the religious instruction policy in state schooling.

“”We are an inclusive education system that aims to provide a good education for all students of all faiths.'”

The department review called for only minor edits to the RI curriculum providers, but as reported by Eternity and now in The Australian, the reviewers commented, “While not explicitly prohibited by the [act and regulations], nor referenced in the RI policy statement, the Department expects schools to take appropriate action if aware that students participating in RI are evangelising to students who do not participate in their RI class, given this could adversely affect the school’s ability to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for all students.”

Eternity understands that principals have been emailed these instructions and this is the basis for The Australian’s story.

There has been ongoing discussions about this since April and Karen Grenning of Queeenland Christian Religious Instruction Network (QCRIN) tells Eternity, “We support the rights of all students whether they have a religion or not to discuss their beliefs in a mutual and positive way.”

“Sharing of faith is part of the core identity of Christian students, says Grenning. “State school playgrounds have a range of discussions about politics, religion and football. Learning how to share your views in a healthy way is part of growing up as a citizen.”

The story in the Australian was not initiated from the Christian side, Eternity understands. We have been aware of ingoing discussions, and have respected their confidentiality.

Examples of evangelism outside of the RI classroom, promoted on the RI providers’ lesson content, that the report was concerned about included:

  • Making beaded bracelets or necklaces with a Christian message to give away.
  • Devising a poem, song or drama to communicate the gospel.
  • Making a speech at a school assembly about something that matters to God.
  • Passing around leaflets advertising church events.

Freedom for Faith, a Christian group concerned with freedom for all faiths, describes the Queensland policy as “an outrageous assault on freedom of belief and speech.”