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New Zealand Following in America's Footsteps? Bible Study in Schools Case Fast-Tracked to High Court

06-20-2018

The US is not the only country wrestling with the so-called separation of church and state. The issue is currently making headlines in New Zealand after the nation's Human Rights Commission backed the rights of parents to sue to stop religious education in state schools.

The move puts the case on the fast track to New Zealand's highest court.

The Secular Education Network, which is opposed to Bible studies in state or secular schools, argues that such practices promote Christianity while marginalizing other faiths.

"It's discriminating in favor of Christianity against other religions," Stuff News quoted Secular Education Network spokesman David Hines.

"They teach all our values come from Christianity, which annoys people," Hines said. "They teach you have to believe in God to be a good person... they don't mention Islam in any of their lessons."

Hines also suggested Bible studies in public schools made students vulnerable to potential bullying if they didn't participate.

"They can get labeled as anti-Christian and parents also," he said.

Meanwhile, concerns abound that the island country could ultimately end up following in the footsteps of the US.

Peter Lineham, a professor of history at New Zealand's Massey University, told TVNZ1's Breakfast, "The only way they (New Zealand's high court) could make a ruling is if they found out that legislatively there was no basis for religious instruction in school – and that's certainly happened in American schools, the banning of prayer in schools."

"My theory is, though, there is actually a law protecting Bible in schools if schools permit it," he continued. "And so the old 1962 Amendment Act can't be overruled just that simply."

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