The Ministry of Education is trying to force Bethlehem College, a Christian school, to change its statement of belief – a statement that reflects Christian beliefs. Specifically, they are trying to compel the school to remove their statement that they believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman, on the grounds that this discriminates against those who do not share this view or who are in a relationship outside of this definition. On the face of it, this is a shocking thing for a Government agency to do and an obvious affront to the right of the school to freely state its belief on a matter that is hardly a surprise. This is, after all, the Christian view of marriage. But here’s the thing: The grounds on which the Ministry is trying to make the school change its statement of belief on the one hand, and the reason the ministry is being urged to do so on the other, are quite different animals.
It’s a situation, I think, where a government agency is fronting what seem like reasonable grounds for their demand, while serving a more sinister purpose. That’s how a slightly cynical person might read this situation (and cynicism is perhaps wise in this situation).
Some background: Bethlehem College is an integrated Christian school. This means they receive some funding from the government, but not as much as other schools, the difference being made up by fees paid by parents. Like other integrated schools, Bethlehem College is a special character school, which has a statement of special character setting out what that special character consists of. As noted by the Association of Integrated schools, “Types of special character include – Seventh-day Adventist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, Jewish, Muslim, Steiner, Montessori and non denominational Christian.”
Their statement of special character, including their statement of belief, can be read here. This the Statement of Belief, in its entirety:
- The Unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
- The Sovereignty of God in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement.
- The divine inspiration and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture, as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith, practice and conduct.
- The universal sinfulness and guilt of human nature since the fall, rendering man subject to God’s judgement and condemnation.
- Redemption from the guilt, penalty, pollution and the power of sin only through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.
- The working of the Holy Spirit in the individual’s life to bring about justification and reconciliation to God by repentance and faith in Christ alone.
- The Deity and Humanity of Jesus Christ; His bodily resurrection from the dead; His ascension; His mediatorial work and His personal return in power and glory.
- The indwelling and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, developing each individual in their personal ministry to the Lord.
- The One, Holy, Universal Church, which is the Body of Christ, to which all true believers belong and in which they are united through the Holy Spirit; and the importance of each local church in the life of the individual.
- The bodily resurrection of the dead and life everlasting.
- Christ’s Commission as expressed in Matthew 28:18-20.
- That God continues to keep His covenant with His chosen people, the Jews, and has made salvation possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus for both Jew and Gentile alike; and that God continues to be faithful to His chosen people, to the land promised to their forefathers. Those who bless God’s chosen people will be blessed.
- In the beginning God created male and female. Marriage is an institution created by God in which one man and one woman enter into an exclusive relationship intended for life, and that marriage is the only form of partnership approved by God for sexual relations.
Parents, like students, are not asked to say that this is what they believe. They are not required to hold or adopt this statement of belief.
By its very nature, a statement of belief discriminates. When you say that you affirm the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are saying that you do not affirm a number of anti-Trinitarian beliefs. When you affirm pretty much any of the beliefs here, you are saying that you do not affirm atheism. When you say that Jesus rose from the dead, you are denying any view according to which Jesus did not die and rise again (for example, Islam, Judaism, or atheism). Indeed, most Christians do not agree with point 12. That position on the nation of Israel is a decidedly minority view in historic Christianity. But it is the view of the Christian Education Trust (the Trust that owns this school). Nobody is asking the school to stop affirming these beliefs, in spite of the fact that they, too, demark the beliefs and character of the school from other belief systems. Affirming a Christian view of marriage, however, is apparently beyond the pale. Notice that the statement here is not just about the opposite-sex nature of a married union. Instead, the statement excludes all arrangements that fall outside of a Christian view of marriage: Relationships that are designed to be temporary or uncommitted (since marriage is said here to be for life), sex outside of marriage, and polyamory, where there is more than one man and one woman involved. It’s worth noting, too, that parents are not asked to say that this is what they believe. They are not required to hold or adopt this statement of belief. Instead, the statement of belief is prefaced as follows: “Please read and tick each box, confirming you acknowledge that these statements summarise key beliefs of the Christian Education Trust, and underpin the School’s Special Character” (emphasis added). The concern here is that by requiring that point 13 is removed, the Ministry of Education is saying that the Christian Education trust is not permitted to have and express this belief, and parents cannot be asked to agree that this is what the Christian Education trust believes. This is acknowledged in media coverage, noting “But Tauranga’s Bethlehem College says the statement is not intended to tell anyone what they are required to believe but to “transparently explain what we believe”.” This is clearly true.
But, as I mentioned at the outset, there are two quite different rationales at play here. The Ministry’s stated grounds for their demand, before “intervention” is required, is that the Christian Education Trust updated its statement of belief more recently than the school was integrated. The story I have linked to is behind a paywall, so here’s the gist of it: When the school was integrated, there were only 12 items in this statement of belief. The 13th item, which mentions a Christian view of marriage, was added some time later without The Ministry of Education’s knowledge, after same-sex legal marriage came into existence in New Zealand. But why did this pop up on the Ministry’s radar as something in need of action? If they had learned that the statement of belief now included a statement like “We do not hold to exclusive opposite-sex views of marriage as upheld in historic Christianity, but we believe God is loving enough to allow for the inclusion of same-sex marriage,” this controversy would not be happening, and I doubt anyone thinks otherwise. Neither would anyone care if they learned that the schools statement on the nation of Israel had been removed. So what happened? Why is the school being targeted? This news story is dated 15 June, 2022. The reason this story arose, I submit, is found in a couple of earlier stories. Enter Shaneel Lal, an activist for “queer rights” (as the news story describes them). Lal drew attention to an incident in which students advocating for the LGBTQIA community were subject to bullying at Bethlehem College. Several students responded by making derogatory remarks, and two pieces of fruit were thrown. Lal alleges that in fact students began a chant of “kill the gays,” which seems outrageous and unlikely on the face of it, but open investigating, speaking to those present, and viewing video footage, the school determined that this simply never occurred.
The school has responded perfectly. Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Paul Shakes (who I realised, upon reading the article, is someone I went to youth group with in my teens!) notes: “We don’t tolerate bullying and expect our students to act in good faith and to show civility and tolerance for differing views, and students who breached our standards will face disciplinary action.” And:
We are happy to comply with any official investigation, though we would like to see evidence that one is needed…
To the very best of my knowledge, in the nine years I have been on the board we have never received any complaint relating to Shaneel’s claims.
If there are people with hurts or concerns our message is to please be in touch directly so we can address them with you. As per our publicly available complaints policy, our heart and desire is to deal with complaints in an open and honest manner, exercising care to preserve relationships, grace, forgiveness and love. We don’t discriminate, nor do we tolerate bullying, and we teach students to understand and respect people with differing views, faiths, and backgrounds.
We’re fully committed to providing a safe environment for everyone at Bethlehem College and we endeavour at all times to live out our beliefs in a loving and respectful manner, and encourage all our students to speak to our experienced and caring counsellors if they need any support in any area…
We’re focused on the wellbeing of the affected students and their families. Our school’s experienced and caring counsellors have been made available to support them. We have been in contact with them over the weekend and remain in contact with them today.
We appreciate that these can be difficult and sensitive issues and we strive to address them with care and respect…
Our board of trustees, including staff members and our student representative, have had their names and photos posted online in a context inviting harassment, and the school’s board chair has received offensive emails. Our message to those acting in this way is: we respect your rights to hold and express your beliefs, please respect ours.
It’s not an entirely unexpected turnaround. Paint the school as bullies, using claims whose truth is in question, and in response engage in targeted personal harassment, since all is fair in war. The fact that the threatening chants appear not to have happened didn’t stop media outlet Stuff from making reference to these alleged threats in their headline, adding fuel to the fire. Then, we read, both Lal and another local LGBTQIA advocate, Katerina Clark, took aim at the school’s statement of belief on marriage. This, in fact, was the goal of the coverage in the first place. Lal pointed to the school’s statement of belief, and the story then focuses on this belief (one that, surprise surprise, is what Christians have always held). Lal is promoting a petition to have the school investigated. That story was a couple of days ago, on the 13th of June.
Step back a couple of days, and the school is under fire from another “pride advocate,” Gordy Lockhart. Again, it is specifically the schools statement of belief about marriage that is being attacked. Gordy makes an obvious legal error here, saying that the statement was against the Marriage Amendment Act, which allows same-sex couples to marry. Quite obviously this statement is not against any law, since it is an expression of the position of the school, which does not restrict anyone’s ability to be legally married. The statement is, as the board pointed out in that story, to “transparently explain what we believe.” The condemnation of the school and its policy here is that it is “discriminatory,” not that it was added after the school was integrated.
It is quite evidently not the case that the Ministry of Education’s legal radar beeped and they were drawn to look at Bethlehem College’s statement of belief and whether or not it had remained the same since the school was integrated. On the contrary, these complaints that were made against the school were the catalyst, and (I say this as someone who has worked at the Ministry of Education) the Ministry’s extremely liberal and very pro LGBTIA culture would have none of this. Going after the school on legal grounds was a bit like going after Al Capone for tax evasion. It was a reason you could use, sure, but nobody believes this was the real reason. To call this a chilling effect on Christian organisations, including schools, is to put it mildly, and it is surely indicative of how the Ministry would respond if any other Christian school wanted to make such a statement, before or after integration.
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39 thoughts on “Is the Ministry of Education censoring a Christian school with a forked tongue?”
Well summed up 👍
They’re also going after their statements on gender now – statements which are based on God’s order of creation and biology.
How do you explain gay sheep Bob???
What is homosexuality in animals supposed to prove? Paedophilia has been observed in bonobos and rape in orangutans. The existence of such behaviour in the animal kingdom provides no justification for it in humans.
David Madison – If “God’s order of creation and biology” resulted in gay animals, who are you to question it?
And who am I to question rape or paedophilia? Furthermore, since viruses and bacteria are part of Creation, then by that logic I should also be against treating diseases. In reality, no such “logic” applies. It has never been part of Judaeo-Christian tradition that everything is as it should be in the natural world. If you think it is then you need to learn more about the subject.
David Madison – I understand that Christians don’t view everything as being the way it should be. I would say that (as far as I know) Christians don’t believe that animals have souls, so there is no “sin” as such (correct me if I’m wrong?), so not comparable to rape but I expect you may refer to “the fall”. For this reason, I don’t usually see any point in discussing the Bible or religious beliefs, as only one of us cares about them not being a part of society. So, as much as Christians are concerned about (As Bob McCoskrie puts it) “God’s order of creation and biology”, most of us simply don’t put any stock in those claims, so the concerns just aren’t relevant to us. Now, if you have any reasonable, non-religious concerns, I’m all ears.
Yes, it is true that bonobos and orangutans are not guilty of sin. It is also true that when animals engage in homosexual activities, that is not a sin. But when humans engage in paedophilia, rape or homosexuality, they *are* guilty of sin. So I simply repeat my point: the presence of such behaviours in the animal kingdom does justify any of them in humans.
If you have no interest in discussing Christian objections to homosexuality then perhaps you have come to the wrong place. You may not care about God’s Order of Creation but that does not mean such an order does not exist or that you have no obligation to respect it.
David Madison – I understand that you think being gay is a sin. But no one who isn’t Christian even recognises “sin” as a concept worthy of consideration, since it is inherently connected to belief in a god making the rules. Why should non-Christians care about your god-beliefs other than to be concerned how they affect the rest of us? I expect you feel the same about Hindu beliefs.
That is a loaded question. If my worldview is wrong then obviously my opinion on particular issues will not be valid if that opinion presupposes my wordview. However, it has not been established that my worldview is actually wrong. I won’t bother to defend it here; anyone who is interested in the matter can consult numerous defences of Christianity.
David Madison – I don’t think that it’s rational to believe something until it’s proven wrong but I don’t think that makes all your opinions invalid because they happen to be part of a Christian worldview. There are many moral stances Christians hold that I think there are good reasons to hold without the need for any religious faith. My point is simply that you trying to convince a non-religious person of a moral point based on what the Bible claims your god said (but without any naturalistic reasoning) is unconvincing.
Perhaps as a Lincoln University Degree educated farmer of thirty five years Dave i can answer your question.
We know a ram can service up to 300 ewes, Ewes will seek out Rams for mating and rams riding rams only happens when ewes are excluded.
Clearly not being animals or insects or plants we should as human not use the practices of animals, plants or insects to guide our morality or we like Praying Mantis would physically eat and devour our mate while sexually copulating.
God our creator and maker knows what is best for us, we should listen to Him.
Homosexual activity has at least been observed in virtually all mammalian species, whereas the god hypothesis is not even close to being proven. I don’t see why the claims about homosexuality made on behalf of said hypothetical god should be given much credence given that it doesn’t really affect anyone else. If you wish to make rules for yourself, you are most welcome. Why should anyone else care about your rules?
What animal’s or insects or plants do is immaterial.
As for proving GOD Dave, my friend. If the language and programming of DNA were not enough to convince you there is a creative genius in charge of the universe.
As in the beginning Dave
Nothing can create?
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING RIGHT?
GOD OUR CREATOR IS!
Why is DNA evidence of a god? Why is an eternal god a better explanation than an eternal natural cosmos?
As has been clearly enumerated the issue has very little to do with the school’s Christian beliefs and everything to do with the fact the school has to abide by an agreement which they signed at the time of integration with the Government and that agreement sets out the essential beliefs that underpin the special character. If the school wants to change those beliefs there is a process they have to follow, and clearly that has not been followed in this case. The bigger question now being asked is whether the school should be entitled to receive Government funding whilst campaigning politically against the laws of New Zealand. There is nothing untowardly chilling about that, either: many Christian schools exist in NZ that are entirely private and no one in Government advocating they be shut down or silenced.
Great comment. I went to a Catholic school. It would be a pretty standard belief that atheists go to hell. However, they don’t ask parents to sign a form accepting that belief.
“and everything to do with the fact the school has to abide by an agreement which they signed at the time of integration with the Government”
Patrick, this was covered in the blog post. Indeed, the whole “forked tongue” issue was about this.
“The bigger question now being asked is whether the school should be entitled to receive Government funding whilst campaigning politically against the laws of New Zealand.”
This would be a silly question. Of course there is nothing wrong with schools supporting a law change. But notice that Bethlehem College has not even said the law should change. They have only stated what they believe about marriage.
“they don’t ask parents to sign a form accepting that belief.”
Dave, parents are not asked to accept this belief about marriage, either. They are asked to acknowledge that this is one of the beliefs of the school.
Glenn – yes that’s what I meant. They have many beliefs. Why this belief? Why not one about hell? Or shellfish being banned? Or women having no authority over men?
“Why this belief?”
But it’s not just this specific belief. It’s the school’s whole statement of belief, is it Dave? This statement contains 13 beliefs! Shellfish being banned isn’t a Christian belief at all, and it’s lazy and ignorant to even use that example.
Go through the list of 13. Are there any others in the list you think they should stop affirming in order to please you? Should they send them to you for vetting?
Why does it bother you that parents have to acknowledge that the schools has beliefs?
Why is a belief that marriage is between a man and a woman relevant when it comes to enrolling a student? Religious people of all kinds take what they want from their religions and ignore the bits they don’t like. So why this specific belief? And then there is the practical aspect of same-sex people legally being able to marry. Why should anyone’s religious beliefs prevent that anyway?
Why is belief in the resurrection of the dead relevant, Dave? Why is the deity of Christ relevant? It’s their statement of belief. Why on earth should it be tailored to what you find necessary? It’s what they believe!
It’s frankly none of your business *what* religions teach about marriage, and pointless to ask why their beliefs conflict with same-sex marriage. The fact is, they do.
I’m not asking about other beliefs or saying it’s not necessary. I’m asking why THIS one is necessary?
Dave, press pause and think about the question I’m replying with, because it’s more relevant than you realise:
Why are any beliefs necessary in their statement of belief? Why are any of them, as you put it, “relevant when it comes to enrolling a student”? Why not have absolutely no beliefs? Answer that question well, and you’ve answered your own question. I’m not going to keep pleading with you to think about this, so I’ll stop there. But you really should think about it better than you are, if you’re going to be so opinionated.
I’m not saying that any belief statements are necessary. I just checked the website and it looks like they’ve removed #13. All the others are what I’d expect as core beliefs about the nature of god and Jesus. But the one about marriage was quite different as it related to a specific “law”. If you don’t want to answer, or don’t know, it’s ok. It was obviously added for a reason. According to this article, it wasn’t part of the original statements of belief – https://www.webworm.co/p/naughtyevangalicals
Dave, you clearly haven’t even read this blog post, in which I note that #13 was added later. That was a major point of this article. You would also have noted how I pointed out that NOT all of the remaining 12 are core Christian beliefs (see the comments about Israel). So you haven’t actually supplied the reason the other beliefs were included. It’s OK, I know why you can’t. And in commenting without even reading the blog, you’ve been trolling me and wasting my time. Goodnight.
Well, it was a few weeks ago I first read it, so forgive me if I don’t remember it all. Why do you think they added it in?
Dave you asked why DNA is evidence of an intelligent Creative Mind (We call God) created the Universe?
If you see a building, you know it had an architect and a builder, If you observe a painting you lnow there was a painter, so seeing a fully finctioning biological insect, animal or bird you know there was a Creator….Don’t you?
Also if you found a page of written words in a book you instinctively know there was an author to this book.
Observing a computer game you know there was some highly intelligent computor programmers who worked an incredibly long hours to perfect this programme to make everything in the game work and function correctly.
Every living organism is incredibly more complex and better designed than this simply computor game.
DNA is the most dense sophisticated data storage system know of in the universe. It doesn’t use binary code like human written software code, it uses quadra code. It has installed editing software that when it detects a copying mistake, knows what to replace the error with.
YOU KNOW THIS DIDN’T MAKE ITSELF DAVE.
THERE IS A CREATOR GOD.
NOTHING CAN MAKE NOTHING
Therefore God is
And YOU CAN and SHOULD GET TO KNOW HIM Mate.
Love and care about you mate.
God’s gonna keep those that know him and love Him and destroy those that don’t and don’t wanna know him.
Seek God while you can.
The Bible says
” The wages of SIN (Rebellion- Selfish Independent Nature) is DEATH, but the free gift of God is Eternal Life through the death and ressureection of His Son Jesus Christ.”
Dave Stanton – That’s the Watchmaker analogy. You’re basically saying that because there is a design, there must be a designer. However, what you have *not* done is demonstrate that DNA is actually designed. You’ve just assumed it is because you can’t imagine how it could appear naturally. The reason you know that a book or a building is designed is that you know how it is done. You can demonstrate it. But you obviously can’t make the claim to know how DNA is “designed”, so the analogy falls apart, no matter how much faith you put in it. Also, the whole “wages of sin” thing is about as scary as the boogie monster under my bed.
Actually for me it also comes from personal experience mate.
Now days if you want a computor game you just download one of go to the computor game shop and buy one. But when we got interested in a Star Trek game we bought the book and five friends and i spent seven and a half hours typing in the 178 pages of fortran code.
At the end of the seven and a half hours we tried to run it and got nothing. Someone somewhere had got something wrong. Typed a commar instead of a semi- Coland, or something.
It made me realise there are a million ways to get programming wrong but only one way to get it right and nature has no mind. Absolutely no way of knowing what is right or wrong, what should be kept and what discarded.
It would simply no way of eliminating junk that is neither an advantage or a dis-advantage.
That is why when Christians ovserve nature and created things they declare “God is Holy Holy Holy” or Perfect, Perfect and imaculately Perfect in every detail.
And God declared after He had created something that He saw to that it was Good or Perfect.
“Be Perfect (or perfected) as your father in heaven is perfect.
Deep down we all know there is a Creator God we just aren’t willing to repent from our selfish, rebellion.
Dave Stanton – So it comes down to this one time you tried to code something? Really??? And that is proof of design? The problem with this analogy is that you’re expressing your incredulity that anything can work at all unless it is “perfect”. If you really think this, you must not have noticed things like cleft lips, etc etc etc. I work in digital marketing. Website code runs all the time despite errors. So does DNA.
No, your assertion that “Deep down we all know there is a Creator God” is not true. More and more people in the West are leaving Christianity because they realised that what they believed simply wasn’t credible. The more ingrained these beliefs were and the more embedded they were in their religious communities, the harder it is to leave. I have a great deal of respect for those that can do it. (And yes, I know people in poorer, more desperate, less educated countries are taking up Christianity)
Dave says, “More and more people in the West are leaving Christianity because they realised that what they believed simply wasn’t credible.”
Just as a side note (as this doesn’t relate to the subject of this blog post), the evidence does not support your claim that this is the reason the number of Christians in the privileged West is declining. Instead, the empirical data (from New Zealand, at least) suggests that more and more people have not been exposed to Christianity in any meaningful way in the first place. If you’d like to learn more about this data, I briefly discussed it here: http://www.rightreason.org/2019/some-thoughts-on-new-zealands-loss-of-faith/
I hope you find it interesting!
I remember that report coming out. We had a discussion about your blog on it back in 2019.
While I agree that less people are exposed to Christianity than ever before, this obviously has to be a consequence of people moving away from those beliefs in the first place. Likewise, less children being exposed to smacking will, in turn, reduce the number of parents smacking their children.
My parents weren’t particularly active Christians but I still went to Catholic school and attended church occasionally. My children do not go to a religious school and have never attended church. I have moved away from the religion I was given.
The reason there are less Christians is because there is less childhood indoctrination.
You may as well say that not many people are Scientologists because they have not been exposed to it in any meaningful way.
Dave, the fact is that we don’t have evidence that people who are not religious / Christian now are not in that position “because they realised that what they believed simply wasn’t credible.” we simply don’t! Now of course you’d like to say that the reason people walked away is that in fact Christianity is not credible, and they discovered this. But to call this a projection of your wishes onto reality would be to put it gently.
“The reason there are less [sic] Christians is because there is less childhood indoctrination.”
You have absolutely no evidence that there is less childhood indoctrination. We know, for example, that people who are not religious are more likely to have not been exposed to knowledge of religion. So the evidence supports (rather than disconfirms) the explanation that childhood instruction and example does influence future beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or not. You’re describing what you wish were true, and what you’d like to be the correct description in your own personal case. Tempting, but unwise!
So in short, the evidence does not currently support the idea that a less Christian population is cause by people finding that what they believed is not credible, the evidence does support the view that ignorance of religion is positively correlated with being irreligious, and the evidence does not currently support your claim that there is less childhood indoctrination than before.
And this isn’t even a matter of opinion.
Here is a link to a 2016 study in the USA. “Lack of belief” was by far the most commonly cited reason for leaving.
“Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why They’re Unlikely to Come Back” – https://www.prri.org/research/prri-rns-poll-nones-atheist-leaving-religion/
// You have absolutely no evidence that there is less childhood indoctrination. We know, for example, that people who are not religious are more likely to have not been exposed to knowledge of religion.
The study above states that most people who are non-believers have left a religion.
In NZ, we definitely have less religious indoctrination than previously. Even in very recent history. Less than 20% of secular state schools now allow religious instruction classes, as opposed to just ten years ago, when it was more like 40%.
// So the evidence supports (rather than disconfirms) the explanation that childhood instruction and example does influence future beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or not.
You are right that people who are raised in non-religious households are more likely to be non-believers than not but you seem to be viewing non-belief in a similar way to how a Christian house would “do Christian things”. It just doesn’t work that way. I don’t think that non-believers sit around talking about their non-belief in the same way that Christians are actively Christian. Non-believers don’t go to non-belief church, there are no non-belief prayers etc etc, Christianity is about as relevant to them as Scientology is to you. That’s not indoctrination any more than not discussing Scientology is indoctrinating your kids against it. I suppose this need to pass on beliefs is the problem of divine hiddenness in action.
// …ignorance of religion is positively correlated with being irreligious…
I agree. Ignorance of Scientology is positively correlated with being a non-Scientologist. Maybe we would all be Scientologists if only we understood it better.
Dave, I’m not going to continue, but I would only ask you to look at how you are responding. You aren’t actually logically connecting with what is said, you’re just saying *something* in response, as though that achieves something.
One super quick example:
You said: “The reason there are less [sic] Christians is because there is less childhood indoctrination.”
I replied: “You have absolutely no evidence that there is less childhood indoctrination. We know, for example, that people who are not religious are more likely to have not been exposed to knowledge of religion. So the evidence supports (rather than disconfirms) the explanation that childhood instruction and example does influence future beliefs, whether those beliefs are religious or not.”
Then you come back with: “The study above states that most people who are non-believers have left a religion.”
I don’t know whether you just don’t understand that this is a completely irrelevant response, or you do, but nonetheless you just had to reply with some words. In any event, the reply was simply not on-point in the least.
Or consider your responses which you, on reflection, would probably admit are not honest. For example, you say “The study above states that most people who are non-believers have left a religion.” But the study above was not carried out in the same place that the study we’ve been discussing was. In America, most people in the country were religious in the not-too-distant past, so it stands to reason that many non-religious people were once religious. Nobody doubts that a person who was religious in New Zealand but is no longer must have left at some point. And even the study from another country you dragged in does not say that people who left religion in general found that those beliefs weren’t credible. Even according to you, they simply left because they didn’t believe. In New Zealand, however, ignorance of religion is in fact very prevalent among non-believers. And you knew this because the study has already been discussed. This tactic does not speak well of your good faith, I’m sorry.
“I don’t think that non-believers sit around talking about their non-belief in the same way that Christians are actively Christian. Non-believers don’t go to non-belief church, there are no non-belief prayers etc etc, Christianity is about as relevant to them as Scientology is to you.”
This is just naivety. Of course there is no non-church. No need to get absurd about this. Knowingly attacking straw men isn’t clever. (You also know it isn’t true that Christianity is as relevant to them as Scientology is to me.) But if you are just going to dig your heels in and pretend – for a pretense it is – that the worldview of parents is not at all influential for children, then I simply see a person embracing ludicrous hypotheses to avoid ever having to concede anything.
You’re welcome to do that, Dave, but not on my time. This might pass for reasonable engagement at blogs you typically visit. But not here. All the best.
// And even the study from another country you dragged in does not say that people who left religion in general found that those beliefs weren’t credible.
The study says that the majority of people who left religion “stopped believing”. I’m not sure why anyone would stop believing something for any reason other than no longer finding it credible? The reason this is relevant is that no one teaches their children beliefs (I’m excluding obvious myths) that they don’t find credible (ie; hard to believe). So yes… obviously less people in NZ have been exposed to Christianity. For many of us, this is because we do not value Christian faith and do not want our children exposed to people promoting it.
The Wilberforce Foundation study “Faith and Belief in NZ” showed that 49% said they were not religious. This was made up of 23% saying they had left a religious background and 26% saying they grew up in a non-religious household. As the non-religious households become more common, yes, people will be more ignorant of Christian religious faith. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. We’re just further down the road to non-belief than the USA.
// You also know it isn’t true that Christianity is as relevant to them as Scientology is to me.
I’m not referring to cultural relevance. Of course Christianity is relevant in that regard. I’m referring to religious faith claims. The claims of any given Christian group are of no more interest to me than those of Scientologists.
// But if you are just going to dig your heels in and pretend – for a pretense it is – that the worldview of parents is not at all influential for children…
I’m not saying that. I think that we’ve got crossed wires. When I said “less indoctrination”, I meant less (Christian) religious indoctrination. I was forced into talking to my kids about religion before I wanted to due to Christian evangelism in their school. Parents like me do not want bible in schools but most would be happy with some academic education about world religions.
“I’m not sure why anyone would stop believing something for any reason other than no longer finding it credible?”
I hope in time you come to see this as a lack of imagination on your part.
// I hope in time you come to see this as a lack of imagination on your part.