There’s a lot of talk going around at the moment about “religious tolerance” or “freedom of religion.” There was the Bondi Public School who banned the word “Easter” being associated with their Easter Hat Parade because they were trying to promote tolerance. Then there’s the new Childcare laws that have been passed in Victoria that prevent Children being forced to participate in Religious or Cultural activities, such as decorating Christmas trees and painting Easter eggs, yet they’re also not allowed to separate children from the group “for any reason other than illness or an accident.”
All of this is done in the aim of promoting religious tolerance, or freedom of religion. But the problem is that it is far from the opposite. Often being pushed by Atheists, they’re more interested in Freedom From Religion as opposed to Freedom of Religion. The problem is that in removing religion from our culture, you’re not only depriving us from being able to express the freedom of religion, but you’re also depriving everyone from growing a deeper understanding of religion and the culture of Australia.
There is effectively no way around this. Atheists don’t want religion shoved down their throats, yet by removing Religion, you’re removing the right to Freedom of Religion.
Take for example, these new Child Care laws. Child Care facilities are not allowed to children to participate in religious or cultural activities, such as decorating Christmas Trees, or painting Easter Eggs. Yet, in those same laws, they are not allowed to separate children from the group for any reason except illness or an accident. That effectively excludes all cultural and religious activities, because you can’t separate anyone whose parents don’t want them participating in those activities, but you can’t force them to take part. It’s crazy.
The thing is that Children at that age won’t necessarily associate “painting eggs” with “the death of Jesus Christ” – that’s only something that we piece together later. I’m not saying that religious education for children isn’t important – because I truly believe that it is. But by depriving children of these activities, you can’t open up the discussion of tolerance. You can’t open up discussion that some people don’t believe in this, and some people do things differently. It’s only through knowledge of different things that tolerance grows.
When I was in year 11, part of my studies included classes on religion, and although it was a Christian school, we weren’t just exposed to christianity. We were taught about other religions, even taking a trip to a Jewish Synagogue. Why did we do this, at a Christian school? Because knowledge about other religions promotes tolerance. If you don’t expose yourself, or your children, to other religions, other beliefs, other thoughts, they will never be tolerant themselves, and never have experience to base their own thoughts and beliefs on.
Tolerance is not removing everything. Tolerance is an understanding of as much as possible, and bringing everyone to the same position, and moving on from there.