A major advertising campaign has begun to highlight Special Religious Education (SRE) or Scripture, in NSW schools.
Christian denominations have united to back the information campaign through ads on the back of buses, on Christian radio and through the distribution of more than 750,000 pamphlets.
“This is an exciting time for SRE, to see every major Christian denomination join together in a show of solidarity behind the great benefits of Scripture lessons in our public schools,” said Youthworks CEO, the Rev Craig Roberts, who was at the launch of the campaign in Sydney in August.
“The evidence is in: the freedom for parents to choose SRE for their children is good for the child, it’s good for the school and it’s good for the community. Youthworks alone has trained 2000 Anglican SRE teachers and helpers this year to impact 200,000 students in building effective relationships between their local church and school.”
The campaign is being backed by a website, faithlifevalues.com.au, which highlights parental choice and “building a better-balanced future” for students.
The campaign comes on the back of a survey by McCrindle Research that found 99 per cent of people believe it is important to teach values to Australian school students, with 84 per cent believing Christian heritage has been influential in shaping the values that we teach children.
The research also found that parents overwhelmingly want the choice of faith-based values education, with only 16 per cent of those surveyed opposed to giving parents this choice.
“Our experience is that the more information we provide parents, the more they are choosing the option of SRE for their children, so we are hoping this widespread campaign ensures that more parents are informed,” said NSW Christian SRE spokesman Murray Norman.
“Education must be holistic and, like sports, music and other areas of education, we can’t ignore the spiritual dimension and the need for children to question, explore and discover the values they build their lives upon.”
Although atheist groups have attacked SRE in the media, it continues to have huge support across school communities with more than 70 per cent of primary school parents choosing to opt in to the program.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recently ruled out changing the way religious instruction is delivered in state schools.
In NSW, Education Minister Rob Stokes last year pledged the government would not be "revisiting its position" in support of SRE.
Said Mr Roberts: “We have nothing to be ashamed of in presenting Bible-based lessons to hundreds of thousands of students every week, informing them of the historic and life-changing claims of the gospel.
“Please pray for our Anglican SRE teachers, that they would use their training and the great news of the gospel to help answer kids’ questions about life, explore the Christian faith and discover faith in Jesus. And thank God for the encouragement of both sides of Parliament and the support of the Department of Education in continuing SRE classes in NSW.”