Costello goes back to school

Peter Costello has a piece in the SMH on proposed changes to the discrimination laws, he chooses to focus particularly on the ramifications of changing this legislation for Christian schools.

“At present, discrimination statutes don’t apply to religious bodies and their schools on the grounds of freedom of religion. So a parliamentary committee has recommended options to extend the power of the state over the province of religion. One proposed change is to restrict the freedom of religious schools to choose their employees on the basis of their religious faith.”

I’m not apologist for Christian schools – they can create unhelpful monocultural microcosms that can cause problems for people engaging with the world later in life. On the flipside, they are really helpful institutions where children receive a better than average education at the hands of teachers who actually care about their development…

Forcing religious schools to make employment decisions free from preference to religion sounds equitable – but there’s no way a Christian School would hire an atheist teacher – they’d find other reasons to not hire them. It’s almost impossible to police. So it’s not a concern.

It is dumb though. And it’s the reason that Christians should push for a clear separation of church and state. It cuts both ways.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

12 thoughts on “Costello goes back to school”

  1. I have just updated to Google Reader (which I think would increase my score on the “How addicted to blogging are you” calculator). This may mean I’m less likely to comment. How much does using Reader effect your commenting level?

    1. Heaps. It means commenting has to be really purposeful rather than just a result of random browsing – and I’m much less likely to track long conversations.

      It does mean I can read a lot more people’s thoughts though…

  2. How separate ought church and state to be, though?

    Do politicians who happen to be Christian have a mandate as the elected representative to make decisions based on their personal convictions as a Christian? Or are they bound to represent (as best as they are able to ascertain it) what their constituents regard as their own best interests?

    1. See Kutz, this is what happens when you get to a party late. I’ve written a bit about this a while ago. I tend to think they have to represent the constituency. It’s a fine line – but you’d expect Muslims elected to parliament to do the same – to pay heed to other people’s views. I’ll try to find the old posts for you.

  3. I’d say politicians vote based on their personal convictions. The idea is that the constituency has voted him/her in because they agree with his/her personal convictions.

    I wouldn’t vote for a pro-abortion person and then expect them to represent my pro-life opinions.

  4. (that first ‘vote’ – as in “politicians vote” – was referring to voting on party issues, obviously not actual state/federal elections).

  5. I’d love to hear more on your thoughts on Christian Schools, if you’ve got anything more to say (and all your subsequent commenter’s, too please). I’m procrastinating on the school choice issue.

  6. Stuss,

    My wife works at a Christian school (as does your husband… sort of). I think hers is great. The teachers love the students.

    I went to a public school. I think it was great – I got to learn how to engage with the non-Christian world and talk to non-Christian people in non-Christian friendships…

    I think it depends on your motives. If your motive is to shelter your child from the world (and remember I’m not a parent, so my thinking may change one day), I think that’s wrong. If your motive is securing the best education for your child, then choose the best education for your child.

  7. I went to a public primary school, and a Christian secondary, and I taught at a Christian school, so I’m familiar with the whole Christian school thing, but just after other people’s views of Christian schools in general, really. The good and the bad, particularly in primary school, because I don’t have a lot of experience there.
    For us it’s going to have to come down to who can offer the best education – a school who can accommodate well someone who arrives at prep already able to read. I’m a bit stuck on that concept of how much ‘shelter’ should you provide your kids, but I’m not expecting you to have a detailed opinion on that as yet. That’s my biggest problem with homeschooling, is that you end up having to associate with all the parents who really shelter their kids from everything.
    But, you mentioned it, so I thought I’d ask more on your view.

  8. Re: Christian schools VS public schools, I think that really depends where you live and the quality of the schools there. My preliminary thoughts are that I’d rather send my kids to a public school but if I was living somewhere where the Christian school was clearly a better quality school then that would change things.

  9. As you note, “best education” is only one aspect of parenting” – teaching/helping your children learn how to interact as a Christian in a non-Christian world is another. Both can vary with each child’s needs.

    I thought Driscoll’s answer (@300M4J Bris) wise, though some would call it a non-answer.


    As parents, you make a deliberate choice per-year, per-child on what you believe is best, whether that is public, private, christian, or home-school.

    And of course, practicality comes into the “best” assessment, so as not to go too far in following the modern cult of child.

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