Is it appropriate for some Queensland state school students to be told that ‘ignoring God’ will result in ‘death’? How will those children interact with kids that have not learned this lesson in RI? Those that don’t attend RI are ignoring God, right?
Large numbers of state school children across Queensland this year likely attended an Easter religious instruction assembly lesson taken from the Connect program. The lesson we highlight here comes from the C1 manual for upper primary students, aged 10-12. However, a member of QPSSS witnessed an Easter assembly – that featured the same bible passage – for children from year 1 (five year olds) to year 6.
How many parents were aware of the content we ask?
For those parents that were not aware, keep reading.
‘Assembly Aim- To help students to understand that Jesus is the King who died on the cross to take the punishment for their sin.
Students will learn about:
-how Jesus died on the cross to pay for their sin
-how the Bible teaches that we all *need* [our emphasis] to accept God’s gift of eternal life.
Key Verse [repeated ad nauseum throughout]
Sin pays off with death. But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.’
The instructions to the RI volunteer are to write parts of the above verse in pieces on 10 cardboard crowns. Students are chosen to find all the crowns and bring them to the front and put them in order.
What kind of job to you want to have when you grow up? (Accept responses)
Why do people go to work? (Accept responses)
One of the reasons people go to work is because they get paid!
The RI volunteer then is to display a A3 sized fake money note.
One day, many of you will have jobs. When you work, you will deserve to get paid. Work pays off with money.
What does the memory verse say is the payment for sin? (Accept responses. Death)
Write ‘DEATH’ on the giant fake money note.
Our memory verse says that the payment for sin is death! Because we sin we deserve to die.
Who knows what sin is? (Accept responses)
Sin is when we ignore God and live our own way. It’s all the times we try to be the king of our own lives. It’s when we say things to hurt other people. When we don’t do as we’re told.
But most of all sin is not treating God the way he should be treated. Sin is when we don’t love God with our whole hearts!
And the payment for our sin is death.
But that’s not the end of our memory verse is it? (Ask the students to read out the second half of the verse together. But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord)
I have a present here.
Display the brightly wrapped present.
If I were to give you this present, would you deserve it?
What is God’s gift to us according to our memory verse?
Turn the present around to display the words ‘Eternal Life”
God has given us the chance to live forever. It’s is a free gift.
Then there is a display of 3 crosses for students to hold up and the RI volunteer talks about the 2 criminals that were crucified with Jesus.
The instructor is directed to display the fake money note with ‘DEATH’ on it in front of one of the criminal’s crosses.
Sin pays off with death! These two criminals were dying because they had done the wrong thing. They deserved the punishment they were getting.
Just like those criminals, we deserve to die because we do the wrong thing and ignore God…. Jesus died so that we can live forever in his kingdom!
We live in a broken world- a world that was broken by sin. And because of that, we will all die one day. But if we trust that Jesus is the King who died for us, we will get to live forever in his kingdom. God’s gift to us is eternal life. But we have to accept his gift and trust Jesus is our King.
Then as a farewell. Before we go, do you think we could remember our memory verse? Ask the students to say it together.
This Easter God is offering you the gift of eternal life. I want you to consider whether you want to accept this gift!
Happy Easter everyone!
In case you didn’t get all that, here’s the potted version:
- If you don’t love God with all your heart you’re a sinner
2. If you’re a sinner you deserve death.
3. If you don’t want to die, you have to accept Jesus as King.
4. Are you going to accept this gift of eternal life by accepting Jesus, or die?
Well, since you put it that way…
DET definition of proselytising: soliciting a student for a decision to change their religious affiliation.
Ordinary meaning of solicit: to ask for, to try to obtain, to persuade, to seek to influence and to express the need or desire
What do you think? Does threatening children with death fit this definition?
Not only is this highly distasteful, it is plainly designed to coerce children to make a certain decision.
We know that the Connect authors will say this is just basic Christian doctrine, and they wouldn’t actually be wrong about that. All that means is that this central tenet is inherently proselytising in nature, particularly when presented to young minds.
And anyway, is that enough reason to give this kind of presentation a free pass?
Is this something that we are happy to sacrifice the curriculum learning time of all children to allow into our state schools?
Are our state schools appropriate places for kids to be threatened with death unless they follow Jesus, or any other god for that matter?
Does this fit within the department’s pastoral care program of the 5 keys for successful and happy children – Confidence, Persistence, Organisation, Getting Along, Emotional Resilience?
So many questions but just one answer: NO!
How many parents of all those children have any idea that the school RI Easter assembly would be so heavy on sin and death?
Yet the RI providers would have us believe that parents willingly opt their children into learn about the Christian faith.
Remember we have already pointed out parts of Connect that clarify that they don’t want children to incorrectly think they are being taught nice Bible stories.
Yep, nothing nice about that lesson that we can see, just a lot of stunned and worried children.
Let’s give the last word to Pastor Mark Calder of Noosa Anglican Church because he says it so well. (2:50 – 3:32)
“What do we want our kids to learn?
Not how to be nice girls and boys
Not how to achieve in the world
Not how to get on with their friends
… we want them to know Jesus…!
We want them to love him and trust and serve him…
We want them to know there is no other way but Jesus…
We want them to know that being Christian is not about being religious but being in relationship
We want them to know that they cannot get right with God through their own efforts but only
through what Jesus has done on the cross
Yes we want them to know Jesus Christ and him crucified!!”