The investigative journalist, David Marr, has described NSW premier Mike Baird as a "Bible-basher."*
What we do not know, however, is whether his particular brand of Christianity embraces the kooky heresy known as Christian Zionism, the belief that the modern day state of Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and should be supported as such. Certainly, Australia has never had a more Israel-focused premier. In fact, Baird spent a week there last month, the first day of which he devoted to visiting religious sites. Whatever the exact nature of the premier's theological beliefs, however, or the degree to which they inform his politics, the buck surely stops with Baird when it comes to the following, quite disturbing state of affairs:
"Evangelical Christian groups continue to dominate funding granted in the National School Chaplaincy Program,** earning millions of dollars... Generate Ministries has been given $4 million to provide chaplains to 202 of the 438 NSW schools participating in the scheme in 2016... Generate Ministries has historically dominated the NSCP in NSW, earning $3 million last year, and had hoped to double its funding with aggressive marketing to 2,000 schools... Although funding of $20,000 per school comes from the federal government, it has been allocated by the NSW government since 2015." (Evangelicals lead chaplains scheme, Kirsty Needham, Sun-Herald, 24/4/16)
So what are Generate Ministries - to name but the most prominent of these evangelical groups - foisting on our kids?
We can get some idea from their "SRE Curriculum Teacher's Outline," titled "Our SRE."
Among its "expected outcomes" for Year 7 students we find that students "will... comprehend God's character, purpose and action from before recorded time until the present and into the future," "appreciate the historical context of the Bible, its purpose, construction and claims," and "recognise that God and his message (in the Bible) are relevant to current society." Take note of those highlighted words.
IOW, critically, the content of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, is viewed and presented, contrary to all available archaeological evidence and contemporary scholarship, as history.
In Year 8, for example, students are taught the following fictions as fact:
"Abraham obeys God and moves his whole clan to a promised land where God will give him many descendants and land."
"Moses is chosen by God to lead His people out of Egypt to the land God promised to Abraham."
"On the death of Moses, Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land and after many battles takes hold of the land."
"The nation of Israel grows..."
Fertile soil, indeed, for a false understanding of today's settler-colonial, ethnographic, apartheid Israel.
Then there's this on the Crusades:
"From the 6th Century, Islam spread rapidly..." Islam, in fact, arose in the 7th century.
"Subsequent crusades were needed to retake Jerusalem from other Muslim invaders." Muslim, not European Christian, invaders?!
Would that this were merely a case of snouts in the trough. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?
[*The Mike Baird Story, theguardian.com, 23/3/15; **See my 5/11/10 post Gillard's Education Revolution.]