The two New Zealand-based Archbishops have publicly declared that the Anglican Church stands four-square behind the Bible in Schools programme.
Archbishop David Moxon and Archbishop Brown Turei were moved to comment following televised remarks made yesterday by St Matthew-in-the-City priest Clay Nelson, who has joined the atheist run-Secular Education Network in a bid to get the religious education programme out of the country's primary and secondary schools.
The archbishops' statement follows:
In the light of recent media comment, it is important to clarify and restate the Anglican Church’s commitment to Bible in Schools in this country.
The ecumenical Churches Education Commission offers the Bible in Schools programme, where a school’s board of trustees agrees to provide it.
The Anglican Church in this country has long supported the Churches Education Commission, both financially and in principle, and will continue to do so.
If a school’s boards of trustees, which is the parents’ elected representative body, wants to offer this spirituality and values approach to the Bible outside of the school day, it has always seemed to us to be desirable to do so – and a perfectly reasonable provision in a democracy and in terms of Tomorrows’ Schools.
There are, in fact, many boards who choose not to offer Bible in Schools – and many boards who do believe it is appropriate.
Furthermore, even where a school does host this programme, pupils do not have to attend this part of the day.
This is a long-standing agreement which honours the freedom of choice we enjoy in this country, as well as the right of parents to influence their children's spiritual and moral development.
We honour the work of the hundreds of volunteers who continue, in a loving, sensitive and non-manipulative way, to offer access, when asked, to this heritage in our schools.
Archbishop Brown Turei (Tikanga Maori)
Archbishop David Moxon (Tikanga Pakeha)