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The thin end of the wedge?

As a life long Atheist I have always considered the secular nature of or education system a virtue and a triumph of reason over superstition but for how much longer is this going to be the case?

Gary Bouma, a professor of sociology at Monash University, told a Muslim students’ conference that the secularist stance of universities was no longer appropriate at a time when religion played a more important role in public life. He said secularism was not a neutral stance but was itself an ideology that was inimical to religions.

“Religious diversity is on the increase and religion is back in the public space,” he said. “Secularists have a right to have a voice in universities but not a voice to denigrate or relegate religions to a non-space.”

The Age

Are we to see the same sort of thinking, when it comes to the catering, that was evident in the Queensland prison system that will see all of the meat served in university eating-places being Halal? A decision made on the assumption that most students would not care. How long will it be before a belief in the (approved) deity is actually a prerequisite for tertiary study? I have no objection to any individual following the religion of their choice but we should resist any moves to make our places of higher learning branch offices of any faith.

Cheers Comrades


14 Comments

  1. Suburban Marxist says:

    Too true Iain, and given Christianity is the largest religion in Australia we ought to be particularly vigilant in that regard.

  2. Iain says:

    The difference is that the Christians do not demand any change to the menu arrangements or that they should be provided with special facilities for prayer…

  3. Jangari says:

    Indeed. There’s altogether too much institutionalised religion in primary and high school, what with compulsory ‘scripture’ classes and so on.

    My tertiary experience was completely secular though, apart from several religious groups holding “Christ/Alla/Jehova weeks” once a semester or so (there never were any Buddha weeks). With a friendly ‘no’ to those handing out fliers, possibly to be met with a glare, I managed to get through 5 years as a tertiary student (and a year as a member of staff) with nothing more substantial.

    By the way, university’s don’t ‘feed’ students, as such. They rent out space to many various private operators who offer a wide range of choices, including halal.

  4. Mark L. says:

    The difference is that the Christians do not demand any change to the menu arrangements or that they should be provided with special facilities for prayer…

    Beg to differ, Iain. Many brands of Christianity have dietary requirements (e.g. Mormons don’t drink tea or coffee) and Jews are essentially the same as Muslims in that regard. As for “special facilities for prayer”, prisons, hospitals and some schools (certainly all Catholic ones) have a chapel. You really should think these things through before launching a barb at Muslims because most religions have similar demands.

  5. Iain says:

    Mark

    Beg to differ, Iain. Many brands of Christianity have dietary requirements (e.g. Mormons don’t drink tea or coffee) and Jews are essentially the same as Muslims in that regard.

    The essential difference is that Mormons do not require any special arrangements to avoid tea and coffee neither have I ever heard of any Jewish students complaining about the lack of Kosher on the menu.
    Of course you are going to find chapels at catholic schools DUH they would not be catholic schools with out such trappings of the faith, Like wise at a hospital run by the church. But I am not talking about those I am talking about public secular education institutions and the desirability of them remaining secular. Some thing that I expected you to support by the way.

  6. Suburban Marxist says:

    “I see this as an opportunity for . . . this country to be paraded for the modern, sophisticated, tolerant, multi-racial society that it is.”
    -John Howard on APEC.

    “The difference is that the Christians do not demand any change to the menu arrangements or that they should be provided with special facilities for prayer…”

    -Iain on why he disagrees with his political idol on tolerance and multi-racialism.

    (p.s. I assume by your denial of ‘special facilities’ for Muslims to pray in they will be given access to the many thousands of Christian churches that already exist in this country.

  7. Iain says:

    SM
    I am sure that any Muslim who wants to pray in a Christian church would be welcome to do so.

  8. Mark L. says:

    I am not talking about those I am talking about public secular education institutions and the desirability of them remaining secular. Some thing that I expected you to support by the way.

    Oh I support the principle of secular institutions being secular, there’s no doubt about that. I’m just poking holes in your ridiculous Chicken Little routine that Muslims are taking over the world, just because a few non-Muslims might – repeat, might – get halal kebabs for dinner if the prices for it are lower than non-halal food. And you studiously avoid the fact that all prisons have chapels and padres; the chapels are usually non-demoninational but the padres are almost always Christian, yet you don’t complain about that.

  9. Iain says:

    Mark
    I note your own admission that prison chapels are non-denominational and I am willing to bet that a Muslim Chaplin could visit members of his congregation in prison and make use of the chapel . 🙄

    Remember that religious observance in prisons is not mandated nor is it restricted beyond the normal prison security protocols that apply to all visitors.
    In any case Prisons are a different kettle of fish to a university or school.

  10. Madd McColl says:

    Generally speaking I agree with you Iain, I highly value a secular education system. But is what he’s saying really that bad? I think your prediction of where this is going is a tad dramatic as he is not, in the article, proposing anything close to your dire predictions. He states:

    ‘the curriculum in all subject areas should be rewritten to incorporate an appreciation of the role of religions in Australian life.’

    This isn’t the end of the world is it? Furthermore, though I value our secularism, I think it can get a little crazy at times eg: France banning religious wear in schools.

  11. Mark L. says:

    You know, now that I’m home and I finally had some time to read the full article which you milked for your own ends, I realise more fully how ridiculous your comments are. This Bouma chap is advocating the study of Islam and relevant subjects – as we do for Christianity, Judaism, philosophy and goodness knows what else. He’s not advocating the serving of halal meet across the board, or the takeover of campus administration by theologians, or anything else of the sort. Those are just typical Iain Hall straw-men.

  12. in2thefray says:

    The article seems to say that secularists and tax payers need to accept supporting religion and specifically it’s Islams turn.

  13. Iain says:

    Mark I think that you misunderstand what is being advocated. Just look here to see just how some rather nasty Islamist teaching has surreptitiously slipped into the American public schools under the guise of Arabic language teaching. There is none of the straw man about my argument at all.

    I bet you London to a brick that you would not be making the same argument if either the group wanting religious considerations was not Muslim or that the author of the blog post was not Moi.

    Cheers

  14. Mark L. says:

    This is your typical ‘debating’ style: deliberately misrepresent the source, construct a fallacious problem and, when challenged, tell dissenters what their views actually are. Your argument is a fog: the guy (who is an Anglican priest, by the way) suggests we should be studying Islam in universities in due proportion with other religions. It is not about Muslims infiltrating college administration or selling halal kebabs to skeptics – those things are in your mind.
    I have little to no time for the teaching of religion at secondary or tertiary level, however if Christianity is a permitted study then I do not see how or why Islam cannot be, regardless of what your paranoia may be.

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