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Auckland school under fire for imposing religious views on students

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sunday, 9 December 2018, 4:08p.m.
The Whangaporoa school has been criticised for being heavy handed in its religious teaching. (Photo / Getty)

An Auckland school is facing criticism for making a Christmas lesson overly religious. 

Katherine Hogg told Stuff that she kept her seven-year-old son at home from school after his class was asked to act out the Nativity.

She told the newspaper that her son did not want to join in, but would have to move to another class if he did not participate. 

Hogg said she was unhappy that Stanmore Bay School had made the Christmas activities biblical.

The Secular Education Network agrees. 

The Public Relations Officer David Hines says that it crosses a line.

"I'd agree that schools have a proper role of putting books of popular culture, religious and non-religious, into their program, but when you get them to act in the play, I feel you're getting into the territory of training in Christianity."

The network's Jeff McClintock told The Weekend Collective that we expect schools to cover different cultures, but this school went too far. 

He says the teacher told a student who said they didn't believe in Santa was told to be quiet and not interrupt other people's learning. 

"That's where the teacher crossed a line between teaching about Christmas and promoting her own views." 

McClintock says he does not want schools to avoid talking about Christ when teaching about Christmas, but it should be done in a manner that is inclusive to everyone.

He says that in this case, the student who voiced their non-belief was "banished" to another classroom. 

"You wouldn't banish Maori kids to another classroom because you're teaching about European history. That's off." 

But Amanda Gregan, the communications advisor for the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, disagrees.

"The nativity is central to the celebration of Christmas."

Gregan says that Christmas is central to the Christian faith.


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