Queensland’s Education Minister Kate Jones stated on Thursday that there was no change to Religious Education policy after concern arose about a GodSpace review that claimed religious instructors should not be encouraged to “evangelise to other students at the school”.
Last year, the Queensland government decided to take on recommendations from a Connect Religious Instruction review. The recommendations included suggestions to improve how the Education Department monitors whether religious teaching complies with Department legislation. Also included in the recommendations was a proposal for more explicit forms of consent from parents authorizing their children to participate in Religious Instruction programs.
The review began as a result of a Windsor State School principal suspending religious instruction due to concerns that children would be solicited into the Christian faith, and in an effort to encourage diverse views of faith in schools.
Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools claimed that the Education Department’s recommendations in the review conducted by GodSpace were not of anti religious intent. It was “Simply [telling] religious instruction volunteers not to incite children to evangelise their friends”.
The recommendations have garnered criticism from the State’s Christian Right. One Nation MP Steve Dickinson said that the country’s Christian values “should not be undermined by bureaucratic nonsense such as this”. Liberal National Party MP Fiona Simpson expressed opposition to what she described as “Ms Jones giving into the anti-god police”.
The Queensland government provides chaplaincy programs with $4.3 million annually, despite the 2016 Census showing that one in three Brisbane people claim to have no religion.