Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Head of the Nile
Ethics classes. It looks like the battle may finally have been won.
As I have written about previously, the Labor government introduced Ethics Classes to run in parallel with formal religious education. The Coalition initially said that they opposed the classes and would get rid of them if elected, and then backflipped to support the changes.
When I last wrote on this issue, Fred Nile (head of the Christian Democrats) was making thinly veiled threats to the O'Farrell government. These threats appear to have been hollow.
No surprises there.
Also unsurprisingly, Fred Nile's campaign against Ethics Classes has not abated. His vehement opposition was pretty obvious during the speech he gave on the second reading of the bill. It can be found here and is too long to extract here in full. Here, however, are a few highlights:
Since then, Nile has continued his campaign against the classes. Whether his opposition is out of a firmly held personal belief or simply pandering to his base is impossible to know for sure, but his enthusiasm cannot be doubted.
He has also persisted with the pretty offensive suggestion that the Ethics Classes preached Secular Humanism, which he insists on linking to the Nazi's. Clearly he has never heard of Reductio ad Hitlerum.
Previously, Nile has had in his corner most of the major Christian denominations.
In recent months, however, this support has slowly evaporated. This is no doubt in part due to the churches seeing that this particular battle was lost, but may also be because the churches have realised that the "catastrophic" effects on scripture that were predicted have not really eventuated.
What may prove to the final nail in the debate was hammered in today by the Inter-Church Commission on Religious Education in Schools. Jo Tovey wrote this piece in the Herald.
The Commission apparently "represents 80 per cent of groups that provide special religious education (SRE)." Their website can be found here. Their website defines their membership as follows:
In August 2010 the Commission released this report:
The important part of the report is below:
It appears that in the interim their view has changed, because the deputy commissioner was today quoted as follows:
I'm going to look past the rather bizarre assertion that "No government repeals legislation" and rather focus on the comment that the fight has been fought and lost.
There is little to no chance that the O'Farrell government will agree to repeal the legislation. Certainly Labor and the Greens are not going to be interested. Nile needs to keep his base happy (assuming, of course, that this is what his base wants) but he risks isolating himself on this issue.
It's good and well to make a stand on things you believe in, but there is also a time to concede defeat and focus on things that you are able to achieve, This is what the Commission has done, and Nile may just do well to consider that start seeking realistic outcomes.
The CDP is a minor party, and people do expect them to fight for their core issues. But Nile risks becoming a sort of parody of a party if he keeps flogging a dead horse