Fierce debate surrounds the Religious Discrimination Bill introduced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison late last year. And now this: the revelation that Citipointe Christian College, a partially taxpayer-funded school in Brisbane, required parents to sign a ‘religious contract’ on behalf of their child.
After furious backlash the contract was later revoked, but it has amplified questions about the apparently murky relationship between politics and conservative religion. We urgently need to separate the two in the sphere of education, as we have in other areas of society.
But to be honest, I’m not surprised by Citipointe Christian College’s actions. I had a similar Statement of Belief used against me when I was fired from my teaching job at a Sydney Christian school this time last year.
Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below.
Prior to losing my job, I had been entrenched in the world of conservative Christianity for decades and was familiar with beliefs like those Citipointe asked its parent community to affirm: that homosexuality, transgender identity and abortion are immoral.
Then, long story short, I finally came out as a lesbian.
It was difficult, but telling the truth about who I am set me free in important ways. Every person needs the freedom to be who they are without fear, especially during the formative years of high school.
Some of the consequences of coming out were painful.
The certainty I had about many of my Christian beliefs cracked and eventually crumbled — a very disorientating experience! I lost friends. Plus, for affirming my support of the LGBTQI+ community of which I’m a part, I lost my job as an English teacher.
However, I’ve also gained some perspective and clarity from the experience. Stepping back from a very narrow kind of Christianity helped me to see a bigger picture — and it’s got me worried.
Conservative Christianity has a tight grip on politics in Australia, and it’s affecting education in our country.
Scott Morrison’s affiliation with Hillsong and its disgraced leader is just one example of religious influence on public life.
Because of the mutually back-scratching relationship between Christianity and politics, the archaic religious beliefs of a few powerful people are being allowed to have a disproportionate influence on the wellbeing of vulnerable people in our society: people, especially children, who identify as LGBTQIA+.