Their mission – values or advancement of religion?

Colouring in for Jesus at a secular public school

The organisations providing religious instruction in public schools have become quite defensive in their reaction the comments from concerned parents in the media. Simon Greening, current Churches Education Commission Chief Executive claims their purpose is not missionary. They don’t wish to convert children to Christianity, just teach them values. Their aim is to “educate not evangelise.”

Problem is this current story conflicts with their earlier stories, and with the recorded aims of their organisation. Recently one of their newsletters described schools as an “under-utilised mission field”:

“Churches by and large have not woken up to the fact that this is a mission field on our doorstep. The children are right there and we don’t have to supply buildings, seating, lighting or heating, . .”

And they also encouraged Christian followers to join school boards so they could have “more influence” on holding religious study in class.

Tax-free status

Their current claims also look very disingenuous when you peruse their registration as a charity to get tax exemption. (Yes, we are subsidising their activities*). The Churches Education Commission Trust Board describes its charitable purpose, or the main sector under which they registered, as “religious activities” – that is the advancement of religion. Its main activity is providing “religious services / activities,” and its main beneficiaries are “Children / young people.”

They amplify their declared purpose in the rules provided for registration:

“The Commission’s Charitable Purpose is to advance education in New Zealand and to advance the Christian faith in New Zealand. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Commission will seek to achieve its Charitable Purpose by:
(a)     stimulating, servicing, supporting and co-ordinating the efforts of member churches and related organisations engaged in Christian and general education in New Zealand;
(b)      promoting and undertaking Christian religious education programmes in New Zealand;
(c)      by generally providing and assisting with the provision of Christian religious education in New Zealand schools and the wider community;
(d)     developing and supporting chaplaincy in New Zealand schools;
(e)     encouraging people to be involved as informed Christians in education as professionals, as parents, or as other citizens.”

I don’t think there is any doubt about it. Their main purpose is “Christian religious education” and advancement of “the Christian faith in New Zealand.”

They don’t include advancement of human values in any of their documents. Clearly they have just taken opportunist advantage of the inclusion of values in the secular curriculum of New Zealand’s public schools to advance their own religious agenda.

They really are treating these secular public schools as a “mission field.”

Should we be allowing people who are this disrespecting of the truth, and covert with their intentions, teach values to our children?


*Actually this organisation also gets other public money. Their last financial returns shows they received four grants totally $12,880 from Internal Affairs Community Organisation Grants Scheme for their work in the Auckland region. They must have been “pulling the wool” to get those grants because they are not meant to fund “Projects seeking to promote commercial, political or religious objectives.”

See also:
Human values are secular

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51 responses to “Their mission – values or advancement of religion?

  1. Just as an aside, did anyone notice how easily interchangeable that image of Jesus is with one of Father Christmas? Is that the idea kids are supposed to come away with?

  2. You have one quote which is a worker for the organisation, and another which is the official stance of the organisation. As with any organisation, occasionally the members of it will make a statement which is not perfectly in line with the official viewpoint. You have found one of these examples and nothing more. No big deal really. A mistake was made (by an underling) and a correction was made. Sorted.

  3. My quotes are from the newsletter, and the registration and financial details on the Register of Charities, Max.

    I thought they were actually consistent. In fact Greening (the chef executive officer) was the odd one out. The others make it quite clear that the organsations purpose is the advancement of religion.

    Greening seems to be trying to cover that up.

  4. But where in what you have quoted does it say they want to convert children?

  5. Come in Max – stop it with the red herrings.

    They themselves talk about a mission, their purpose is the advancement of the Christan religion (values are not mentioned in their purpose).

    > No one has actually used the term “covert children”, except you. But you draw a reasonable conclusion.

  6. “convert”. Not “covert”

    Not sure what you meant by that. Anyway.

    They say that they wish to “promot[e] and undertak[e] Christian religious education”. No one disputes this.

    It is hardly a dark secret! So surely you are saying they are doing something more than this?

    I am confused.

  7. Have a look at a CEC provider http://www.tabiblechapel.org.nz/10/pages/134-bible-in-schools
    It plainly states “The motivation is to see the children develop an understanding of who God and Jesus are, and to encourage them to let Jesus into their hearts.”

  8. Richard Christie

    Now that they’re rumbled expect the shredders to run overtime, webpages to be updated and promotional material to be rewritten to conceal the reality.

  9. No, it’s not a dark secret, Max. But in recent years they have pretended the instruction was about values and have attempted to link in to schools values educatins as if they had one special abilities there. They don’t.

    Many supporters are also pretending it is about values

  10. None I know of.

  11. I mean people say it is about values. But are quite clear that by this they mean Christian values. No hidden agenda that I can see.

  12. What are “Christian values” Max?

    In what way do these differ from the values included in the cirriculum?

  13. Ask the people who teach it.

  14. You are the one using te term. Supporters of the CEC usually put out the story that their programme is the only source of values which of course is absolute crap.

    I hope they are teaching Craig’s version of clues!

  15. The situation as I see it is this:

    The schools want to teach values in their schools. A group has stepped forward and offered to teach values – making it perfectly clear that they are Christian and use Christianity as the basis for their values. Because we have a history rooted in Christianity, or for some other reason, the schools have accepted this offer. They then tell the parents this is what they are offering and the parents can accept or decline this offer.

    Which part of this do you not like?

  16. Richard Christie

    Which part of this do you not like?

    The bullshit parts.

  17. Any school board pulling this argument is actually breaking the law. Our public school education is by law secular. Handing part of the cirriculum over to a religious groups essentially breaks the law. And values are meant to be an integral part of the education – incorporated thoughout the curriculum.

    It is probably occurring in some cases – after all militant Christians probably get into school boards for this reason. Red Beach school seems to have this problem.

    Parents don’t have a say – only the school board. While there is in theory an opt out system there seem to be a lot of cases where parents are not informed or the decisions are ignored.

    An opt in system would be more honest – but guess who fought that tooth and nail when it was attempted?

  18. I should have added this sort of shifty behavior seems to be quite common for the ideologically inclined – especially if they think they are saving the souls of innocent children.

    Mind you, Craig has a more extreme way of saving those souls.

  19. So your main issue is with school boards then rather than the people they ask to come in?

    (ps. what is your obsession with this Craig guy!?!)

  20. Richard Christie

    So your main issue is with school boards then rather than the people they ask to come in?

    At least this is a start, a vague recognition of the issue.

    Max is your position now that maybe it is dishonest, but the dishonesty is the responsibility of school boards, not those pushing baby jesus stories on children.

  21. My position is that if the school tells the parents what the program is, and the parents agree that they want their children to do some course , then it is noone elses business really. If children were being forced to do this program I would agree.

  22. Richard Christie

    if the school tells the parents what the program is

    Well, that’s the bone of contention and given the evidence of subterfuge emerging, Ken, myself and judging from letters to the local press, a sizable number of others don’t think parents are being fully informed as to the content and real purpose of the program.

  23. Well that’s no good. But really not the fault of the organisation asked to come in.

  24. I am not sure I would conclude that it is some conspiracy though. Probably just instances of incompetence.

  25. Richard Christie

    Hmm, Max, I wonder if you’d be so accommodating if Scientologists used this trick to introduce kiddies to the concept of Thetans or whoever the hell they talk to inside their heads.

  26. What trick?

  27. Richard Christie

    Pretending to parents that the aim of the program is to teach children about morality, when in fact the aim is to introduce children to the concept of a god and to implant an association linking belief in the supernatural with the exercise of morality.

    That trick.

  28. Yeah. But I don’t buy that conspiracy theory. As I have said there is no secret that it is a Bible based program with an obviously Christian message and worldview. “Churches education commission” “Christian religious education” “bible in schools”… it is hardly some covert operation trying to fool people that it is a non-religious class.

  29. Richard Christie

    It doesn’t matter if you buy it or not, or if you care to label it as a conspiracy.
    it’s quite obvious that this is what has been going on.

  30. So they call themselves the “Churches education commission” and offer “Christian religious education” and “bible in schools” and some parents are not working out that it might be a religious organization? How stupid are these people?

  31. Richard Christie

    and some parents are not working out that it might be a religious organization?

    Can’t you bring yourself to face reality and write “and some parents are not working out that it might be a religious program? “

  32. Sure ok:

    So they call themselves the “Churches education commission” and offer “Christian religious education” and “bible in schools” and some parents are not working out that it might be a religious program? How stupid are these people?

  33. Richard Christie

    So now it’s the parents fault?

    Ken has already posted a pic of the deceitful permission slip that I understand was only altered to state “bible based” after complaints.

  34. Yes. And if that is genuine, that is the school being neglectful. The fact that you assume it was done by the school (not CEC) out of deceitful motives rather than ineptitude is conspiracy theory thinking.

  35. Pingback: What really happens in religious education classes? | Open Parachute

  36. “As I have said there is no secret that it is a Bible based program with an obviously Christian message and worldview”.
    So “Cool Bananas” is ‘obviously religious’???
    So “Values in Action” is ‘obvious religious’?
    So the Red Beach Website clearly state’s the use of the Bible? (hint -not at all).

  37. Jeff: You will have to give a bit more context… no idea what you mean by “cool bananas” etc….

  38. Richard Christie

    Yeah Jeff, it’s obviously the dumb-ass parents’ fault.
    How can they be so thick?

  39. Who said it was the parents fault Richard? I implied that the school’s were at fault – although I don’t think there is a conspiracy afoot.

  40. Richard Christie

    So they call themselves the “Churches education commission” and offer “Christian religious education” and “bible in schools” and some parents are not working out that it might be a religious program? How stupid are these people?

  41. Yep. i said that. And i think that attacking the organization which comes in calling itself the Churches education commission, teaching Bible in Schools, if you KNOW this is stupid. If patrent’s DONT know this then this is due to a lack on the part of the schools. Hence the schools are to blame. You need to read everything I say – not just little bits in isolation.

    Let me spell it out:

    If parents KNOW that the “Churches education commission” is teaching their children “bible in schools” and “Christian religious education” then it would be odd if they did not know this was a religious program, or at least had a Christian slant.

    If the parents DO NOT know that the “Churches education commission” is teaching their children “bible in schools” and “Christian religious education” then the school has failed to communicate this to the parents.

    Why have the schools failed to communicate this to the parents? I have no idea and nor do you. It probably differs from school to school. To jump to the conclusion that it is part of some conspiracy to fool parents into letting their children take place in a Christian program against their will is unwarranted.

  42. Richard Christie

    Max, what title does CEC give to the course they offer to the schools, that is subsequently (if you insist) described to parents by the school (if you insist) as a course on “values”, with no mention of a religion basis in its title?

  43. No idea. Why don’t you tell me how you see the situation:

  44. George, on the today’s post, referred me to this document http://www.lausanne.org/docs/2004forum/LOP47_IG18.pdf on Evangelisation of Children.

    I was shocked at how cynical it is, describing activity with children which takes advantage of education, play, family, problems, etc., to evangelise. Rather than because of human empathy and care of children.

    It reads like an opportunist political strategy document.

    One of the co-authors, Mitch Jordan, is currently chairperson of the NZ CEC.

    This pouts Greening’s claim that they don’t evangelise into proper context. He is not being honest – and that is consistent with talking about values rather than conversions of children.

    I think parents, and probably schools, give these organisations the benefit of the doubt, thinking that their basic intentions are humanitarian (possible because they are “Christian”). But they aren’t. They use humanitarian ideas to “gather souls.” That is their whole motive.

    Frankly I think most parents, and schools, would be shocked if they realised what is going on.

  45. Richard Christie

    Max, it’s pretty clear what I think about the topic, and it’s pretty clear to me that in your mind , if there has been any misunderstanding by parents over the intent and/or content of the courses, no blame can be leveled at the CEC, rather it is the schools and parents, at least one of these two for the crime of being “stupid”.

  46. Richard Christie

    no blame can be leveled at the CEC,

    After all you can’t blame an evangelistic organisation for being an evangelistic organisation.

  47. I am having trouble working out whether that last comment was sarcasm or not.

  48. I think that there is an issue with communication, and somewhere along the line the message about what the course is is not getting through. Sort out the communication issues and I have no problem with the course itself. “Stupid” may be too harsh – careless maybe?

  49. After all you can’t blame an evangelistic organisation for being an evangelistic organisation.

    True. But it is dishonest to deny one’s evangelism to the mainstream media, as Greening does, and continue talking about evangelism of children to one’s own circle.

    This is especially bad because at the same time the organization claims some special access to and expertse in morality. And because it involves decieving schools and parents, and treating children as objects to be harvested.

  50. This is especially bad because at the same time the organization claims some special access to and expertse in morality. And because it involves decieving schools and parents, and treating children as objects to be harvested.

    Christians decieving schools and parents with ambiguous wording to maintain plausible deniability while at the same time giving a big stage wink to the home audience? Nah, it couldn’t happen. Why that would be dishonest!

    Let’s teach creationism.
    No?
    Oh….um….
    Hey, let’s teach Intelligent Design! It’s totally different. No, really.

    Still a Lie (Portal, Still Alive parody)

  51. Pingback: Cynical evangelisation of children | Open Parachute

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