Shire parents who support an alternative to scripture being taught in schools are being encouraged to put pen to paper.
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Durras advocate Phil MacDonnell says the Catholic Church will use 35,000 signatures to flex their political muscle, unless parents fight for the alternative.
He has been campaigning since 2005, and says there is a lot of support within the community for shire kids, who opt out of special religious education (SRE), to be offered an equitable alternative.
“When the whole idea was discussed ... there were some parents who were concerned that it would cause some children to not have the opportunity to be exposed to the Bible, and that would be unfortunate in their point of view,” Mr MacDonnell said. “But the majority voted to support the move.”
Mr MacDonnell said the Catholic and Anglican churches were trying to have the ethics opportunity not progress beyond the trial, which has started.
“They’re trying to protect the monopoly,” he said. “It’s not all the churches that are against us, but there are some that have a fear-based response. They fear that SRE will eventually be removed from the schools and they see this as a wedge.”
The churches are, in Mr MacDonnell’s opinion, trying to stop parents doing something for their children.
“It’s a huge overstatement,” he said.
“They say it’s unfair for their kids to miss out on the ethics education, which is a complete furphy, because they are welcome to utilise the ethics education within their teachings if they wish.”
Mr MacDonnell was unsurprised by reports that P&C branches were being “branch stacked” by Catholic and Anglican parents, in an effort to derail the movement.
However, he said the issue was yet to hit Batemans Bay Public School.
“I haven’t been to the other P&Cs and to my knowledge it hasn’t been an issue here,” he said.
Mogo Public School P&C representative Claurissa Hood said there had been an influx of new recruits to the association, but denied it was ethics-led.
Sunshine Bay and Moruya primary schools were unavailable at the time of going to press.
“I’m sure there are lots of members of the churches who support this idea, but the top is sending the message down,” Mr MacDonnell said. “It’s the top of the church who is sometimes out of touch with the parish.”
With the trial drawing to a close, Mr MacDonnell said it was up to the Department of Education, not the individual P&C associations, to make a decision.
He urged parents to fill in a petition form at www.parents4ethics.org before June 26.