Controversial special religious education classes in Australian New South Wales schools have come under fire for teaching children “inappropriate” content, including that cancer is a consequence of sin and a gift from God.
Multiple parents have flagged damaging content taught in special religious instruction classes in New South Wales schools, but the government has ruled out banning the classes, Crickey.au.com reported.
According to the complaints in an independent review of the program, the lessons feature “inappropriate, homophobic and anti-science” content.
The review was commissioned back in 2014, but it was released only recently. The regional government refused to publish the findings earlier as it considered its response.
Some parents claim the inappropriate topics discussed in class had “disturbed or frightened their child” and some lessons were “too evangelical”. Critics of the findings, however, point out the freedom of religion in the country.
The report claims some children were told that those who don’t believe in God would “die young”, people who don’t love Jesus were “the enemy” and those who stop going to the church would “go to hell”.
The special religious education material also included negative Bible passages about abortion and claimed cancer was a consequence of sin and a gift from God.
The inquiry also noted that that religious instruction teachers were “overstepping the mark” in talking about issues of sexuality and expressing allegedly homophobic views.
Special religious education teachers also taught children literal and fundamentalist interpretation of scriptures, teaching creationism and saying dinosaurs never existed.
NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said the government will make curriculum available online and ensure the program’s content was appropriate.
He also dismissed the complaints in the report as “anecdotes” and not real evidence of problems in the program.