The Conversation: Religious classes in schools must adapt to fit a changing Australia

In a nation that is increasingly secular, religion still plays a vital role in the way we run our country. In this series, we examine the role of religion in Australian politics and education.

Renae Barker, University of Western Australia

The role and place of religion in state schools has hit national headlines again in recent weeks. In Queensland, controversy has arisen over a proposed policy to restrict proselytising by students. And the New South Wales government’s religious education program, in which students not taking part in the classes pick up litter or do colouring in, has come under renewed criticism.

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Victoria: School’s ‘turban ban’ displays common misunderstanding of equality

Can a school impose a uniform policy that does not take into account a student’s religious or cultural beliefs and practices? This issue is being considered by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Sagardeep Singh Arora, on behalf of his five-year-old son Sidhak Singh Arora, is challenging Melton Christian College’s decision not to enrol his son unless he agrees not to wear his patka, a Sikh head covering.

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Learning to Live Well Together: Case Studies in Interfaith Diversity

The St Phillips Centre in Leicester, UK, has a Travelling Road Show: A group (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Buddhist, Jewish, Pagan, Jain, Humanist). Two members of the centre have prepared a book with reflections on learning to live together well in a multifaith environment.

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The “Buddhist pop song” that took sixth at Eurovision


On Saturday, an Italian song about the emptiness of Western consumer culture came sixth at Europe’s wildly popular song competition, Eurovision. Occidentali’s Karma, by Francesco Gabbani, was Italy’s entry to the contest, and while the song (which is flush with Buddhist references) didn’t win, it was a hit with critics. The song was the most watched music video of the contest and was chosen as a favourite by fans and the press.

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UK: Staffordshire Agreed Syllabus in RE

The role of Religious Education in schools is to help prepare and equip all pupils for life and citizenship in today’s diverse and plural Britain, through fostering in each pupil an increasing level of religious literacy. What does it mean to be ‘religiously literate’? A religiously literate person would have an established and growing knowledge and understanding of beliefs, practices, spiritual insights and secular world views. In the context of their own considered standpoint they would also be open to engaging with the views of others in a plural world.
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