Daniel Dennett calls it the “last big fib.*” The claim that religion and human morality are intimately entwined – that you can’t be good without god. That does seem to be a widely held misconception, or should I say widely promoted.
The New Zealand educational curriculum provides for values education. And in public schools by law the education must be secular. But these (the teaching of values and secular education) are threatened by the legal provision which allows religious (Christian) groups to come into public schools and provide religious instruction. The “trick” is that schools are legally “closed” during that time – and parents can “opt-out” their children (if they know what is going on).
I think that is bad enough but some groups, and schools, pull another trick. They tie in values and religion so that the intruding religious group provides the curriculum requirement for values education – or justifies their intrusion this way.
On the one hand children are taught a very biased form of values and in practice these groups are more interest in converts and talking about “Jesus” than they are in values). On the other, those children who are opted out miss even that form of values education.
A newly formed New Zealand group, the Secular Education Network, is attempting to publicise and change this situation. If the issue interests you or you wish to participate in this work go and have a look at their website at http://reason.org.nz/.
Here’s an excellent, and short, video highlighting the problem in Auckland.
*Have a look at this excellent video of a recent discussion between Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins where Dennett uses this term: