'The Bible is a key text' says our Federal Education Minister

Simon Birmingham urges States and schools to use it

“The Bible is a key text that, through the teaching of Christianity, has had a fundamental impact on the Australia we live in,” Senator Simon Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training said in response to a forum on education and the Bible this week.

“Christianity’s history and place in Australia is already part of the National Curriculum, making some study of the Bible entirely consistent with adherence to the expected curriculum.”

There are a number of examples of where the Bible forms a natural part of Australia’s national curriculum.

They include:

  • Year 4 – In the Humanities and Social Sciences learning area, the Civics and citizenship sub-strand includes the content: “The different cultural, religious and/or social groups to which they and others in the community belong.”
  • Year 7 – Civics and Citizenship contains: “How Australia is a secular nation and a multi-faith society, with a Christian heritage.”
  • Year 8 – Civics and Citizenship contains: “The values and beliefs of religions practised in contemporary Australia, including Christianity.”

Then there is each state’s Religious Education (RE) systems. This includes both RE as part of the normal curriculum in some states and the volunteer-taught SRE in NSW and WA, RI (religious instruction) in Queensland, and seminars in SA which occur in school time. SRI in Victoria is a before and after school or lunchtime programme.

Senator Birmingham pointed to the need for the states to keep educating students on religion.

“The states and territories, who apply the curriculum in their jurisdictions, need to ensure students develop the expected understanding of Australian values and beliefs, including the historical and modern role of Christianity as well as other faiths of influence.”

The forum was organised by Chuck Stetson, a US-based entrepreneur with a special interest in “Bible Literacy” – keeping the Bible in school programmes as part of educating a well-informed citizen.

“This is not about religion; we don’t get devotional, not in public schools,” Stetson told The Australian. “This is about learning the basics so we have students that can decode words and phrases, so many of which we get from the Bible. If you’re not, you’re not getting a full education. And that’s unacceptable.”