Dogma has no place in our schools
Pastoral care is undoubtedly a worthwhile and necessary aspect of education in all Australian schools. Juliette Armstrong is to be commended for her challenge to the legality of discrimination against non-religious job applicants for pastoral care in government schools (Mike Seccombe, “The final challenge to religious chaplains”, May 19–25). However, the religious right are continuing to build divides by promoting legislation for greater funding of specific religious instruction in schools. This can only reinforce religious prejudice. Ignorance of the foundation of beliefs of people with different religious affiliations is the source of suspicion and ongoing prejudice. John Howard and the Liberal Party introduced quasi-compulsory religion into schools and the current government continues to support it. This country is a multicultural country and our children should study comparative religion where they get an appreciation of the history and belief systems of all recognised religions. This study would give them the capacity to appreciate similarities of religious practices and allow them to separate religious practice from political prejudice. The instruction of specific religious dogma of any flavour has no place in any of our schools but should be left to the home and church to nurture. Any school that accepts the taxpayers’ dollar needs to promote a safe, secular, multicultural society.
– Edward Minty, Huon, Vic
Oh, the humanities
Guy Rundle (“The bonfire of the humanities”, May 19–25) pinpointed yet another of our civilisation’s institutions that is in decline, the university. His analysis is odd; perhaps idiosyncratic. Would he have us pity the poor Gen X academics who were hoodwinked, perhaps, by baby boomers? Yet he says that Gen X people, following Whitlam’s supposedly lamentable transformation, “joined when academia was a real and radical proposition ... but now find that academia is ... the very worst place to be”. If his implied timeline is to be believed, Gen Xers only have themselves to blame. Surely by now they’d be running these institutions, and for the better? Were the Gen Xers the mob who decried discipline boundaries, who became masters of nothing and gained invaluable experience in university administration? Perhaps they should’ve been careful what they wished for. Rundle wrote only of the humanities, but I’d argue that all the disciplines are ill served in contemporary universities. Many mathematics, physics (and all physical sciences), economics departments and so on, have been shut down or cut up. Thank you Guy Rundle for entering an important debate about our way of life. No thanks for your irrelevant categories and lack of diagnosis of the issues. I offer a starting point. Universities are about training people to think. People should have a demonstrated modicum of expertise to gain entry. Ability to pay is not expertise and suitably qualified students are not customers.
– Peter Slade, Beerwah, Qld
Coalition betrayal on live exports
By not banning live sheep exports, Malcolm Turnbull and David Littleproud are equally guilty of the sickening cruelty exporters will continue to routinely inflict on animals (Editorial, “A sheep at the wheel”, May 19–25). They have squandered a perfect opportunity to champion the end of a dark and appalling chapter in our nation’s history, choosing instead to ignore the science, the Australian Veterinary Association, and the economic benefits of expanding our boxed/chilled meat trade, and given a green light to a trade in its death throes. Australians are not “shocked” or “gutted” by their shameful betrayal, we are outraged – and we will neither forgive nor forget.
– Cheryl Forrest-Smith, Mona Vale, NSW
Voter’s view on Jane Prentice
I have lived in the Ryan electorate for 30 years (Paul Bongiorno, “Byelections beware”, May 19–25). Perhaps someone should talk to us before making assumptions. Jane Prentice and the successor who hopes to slide into her seat stand for nothing except their careers. Prentice can’t even be bothered to reply to correspondence from her electorate. In all of this, the voters and their concerns don’t get a mention. By the way, Tony Abbott launched Prentice’s re-election campaign in 2016.
– Jennifer Coleman, Indooroopilly, Qld
Funding cuts to our precious ABC, funds being funnelled into so-called “independent” schools at the expense of public schools, cuts to foreign aid, more and more power being given to a man who appears bereft of compassion, another who sees the Middle East as a lucrative source of income for an expanding weapons industry, and a government that continues to ignore climate change. I could go on (Editorial, “The cutting wedge”, May 12–18). I look at my grandchildren and hope that by the time they are my age Australia will have produced leaders of business and government who show real wisdom and compassion.
– Barbara Lyle, Tea Gardens, NSW
Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 26, 2018. Subscribe here.