The teaching of religion in schools is currently under discussion in New Zealand (see NZ Human Rights Commission discussion document Religion in schools). For many there is a conflict between “religious instruction (the old way limited to Christianity) and teaching about religion (where children are taught about all the relevant religions). Teaching about religion should provide opportunities for encouraging tolerance and understanding. It would also fit well into values teaching as described in The New Zealand Curriculum (see also
In Praise of the New NZ School Curriculum).
However, teaching about religion would be a travesty if the non-religious or secular ethical systems were ignored, given the large numbers of non-religious in our society (see Trends in religious belief in New Zealand and God’s not as popular as we thought). Unfortunately many religious and political leaders make this assumption of exclusion and the Human Rights Commission discussion document also ignores this group. Maybe this indicates that many religious people still fear secular ethical beliefs.