Religious Education is the Responsibility of the Family
With all the uproar around the Religion and Education policy of the Department of Education (DoE), it is surprising to find some Christians that are happy to go along with the government's agenda. The DoE has attempted to coax the public along by saying it is the Department's responsibility to educate our children in a "multi-cultural" society, but it is the responsibility of the family and church to teach a particular religion.
This sounds very feasible. Many Christians have advocated that parents or the church cannot neglect their duty to "raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord" by passing the responsibility onto the local school. Who would not agree with that? However, that should be taken as given. What the DoE is really saying is that Christianity (i.e. the Lordship of Christ) has 'no place' in public schools and must be imprisoned within the walls of the home or church building.
Consider it this way. The Constitution allows for religious observances at state institutions (including schools) provided that they follow the rules of the "public authorities" (Section 15.2.a). The question is, who are the relevant public authorities? On the one side you have the state, who is laying claim to controlling the rules through the Department of Education. On the other side you have the family laying claim to be the relevant "public authority" through the School Governing Bodies. This religion in education policy is really a battle between two great institutions, both designated by God, the family and the state. (Incidentally, Section 7 of the South African Schools Act identifies the school governing bodies as the "public authority.")
Nowhere in Scripture will you find a mandate for the state to control religious instruction, in fact nowhere in Scripture will you even find the mandate for the state to control education. Conversely, there are many Scriptures mandating the family to instruct their children in the ways of God (Deuteronomy 4:8-9; 6:1-9; 31:13; 32:45-47; Psalm 78:5-6; Ephesians 6:4). Schools are not some religiously neutral space. The state's new "multi-faith" religion education is exactly that - a new multi-faith religion, antithetical to Christianity, being forced unconstitutionally on all schools, infringing on religious freedoms.
Why should a bunch of faceless bureaucrats, far removed from the local school and child, working only 9 until 5 and only on a contract basis, lay more claim to our children's education than the parents who share the same DNA, have the same surname stretching back generations, and have a clear mandate from Almighty God?
Where should the Church and church leaders be putting their support? Fully behind the family! We need to do all we can to preserve the right to choose the religious ethos of our schools through the School Governing Bodies, and if that means going to court, then so be it.
by Rob McCafferty