Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Australian universities and religion: tales of horror and hope

Australian universities have had a curious relationship with religion. The nation’s first university excluded clerical teachers of religion, which soon had the unintended consequence of marginalising religious…

Decisions made when the University of Sydney was founded in 1852 laid the historical foundation for a curious relationship between universities and religion in Australia. AAP/Paul Miller

Australian universities have had a curious relationship with religion. The nation’s first university excluded clerical teachers of religion, which soon had the unintended consequence of marginalising religious scholarship. Recent changes in the churches and wider society have forced a rethinking of the role of religion in universities, but policy makers and university leaders have been slow to respond.

As a result, we have a lesser education system than we could. The impact on our capacity to deal with religious issues threatens the health of a free society. This is a result of a mixture of historical accident and ignorance and self-interest in relation to the religious dimensions of higher education. These dimensions are intertwined with private higher education in Australia.

The origins of separation

Australia’s first university, the University of Sydney was founded in 1852, modelled on the great British universities. Oxford and Cambridge at this time were engulfed by controversy over the restriction of entry to members of the established Anglican Church. In the colony of New South Wales, the presence of Irish Catholics and Scottish Presbyterians made an Anglican monopoly inconceivable.

The group of mostly lay Anglicans who set up the University of Sydney kept the divisive teaching of theology at arm’s length from the new institution. The churches were given land at the university to build colleges for their own students – hence St Paul’s for Anglicans, St Andrew’s for Presbyterians, St John’s for Catholic students and so forth.

In any case theological education was already in place in the colony - for example, the Anglican Lyndhurst College from 1847 and soon after Moore College. A Roman Catholic seminary had been operating since 1834. It was a separation put in place by mostly religious founders for religious reasons.

In Melbourne, the story was similar. The university’s foundation in 1854 excluded both the teaching of Divinity and clergy holding academic positions. Theological education in the colleges was stronger than in Sydney, especially the Anglican Trinity founded in 1878, the Presbyterian Ormond College and Queens College.

The exclusion of theology from the university led to the foundation of the Melbourne College of Divinity in 1910, with its own Act of Parliament. Melbourne became a pioneer in ecumenical theological education.

Times of change and reconnection

Since the 1960s, the separate systems of theological and university education have tentatively reconnected. Declining church attendance and reduced public influence of the churches moderated some of the dangers that the founders wished to avoid. It was also a time of higher education expansion and rising expectations of degree qualifications in many occupations, including Christian ministry.

A mark of the limited reconnection was the suggestion of the 1964 Martin Report that universities offer theologically relevant courses of a non-dogmatic character. Newer universities such as Flinders, Murdoch and Charles Sturt began teaching theology, often in association with local theological consortia.

Federal funding of universities based on student numbers drove this trend further. Entrepreneurial arts deans looking down the road saw the absorption of a local theological college as a new source of revenue, and cash-strapped colleges were usually willing to agree.

Some interesting experiments emerged. A group of lay evangelicals began Macquarie Christian Studies Institute, where university students could take theological courses for credit as part of their Macquarie degrees and, more importantly, subjects integrating theology with their chosen fields, including mentoring and spiritual formation. The institute operated from 2000 to 2008, when the university moved against it to stop the leakage of student load.

Another experiment was the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle in 2006 closing the college it had operated since 1898, St John’s Morpeth, to endow a chair in theology at the University of Newcastle and move the training of clergy to the university. Roman Catholics formed their own universities in these years: Australian Catholic University in 1991 (which put together Catholic teacher and nursing training colleges around the country, but not diocesan seminaries), the University of Notre Dame in 1999 and the liberal arts Campion College in 2000.

Some long-standing Bible colleges, such as my own institution Alphacrucis College (formerly Southern Cross College, which has educated Pentecostal ministers since 1948) are expanding their subject offerings, introducing research degrees and heading towards university status.

Current developments are being driven by changes in government policy and funding, especially the emphasis on postgraduates and research, alongside huge changes in theological education. Theological colleges are no longer filled with clean-cut young men seeking ordination - less than 20% of theology students are candidates for ordination. Students are increasingly older, female, part-time and undertaking research degrees.

Changes outpace regulation

Regulatory arrangements have not kept pace with the changes. Policy settings for secondary and higher education are particularly inconsistent. Current secondary education policy emphasises quality, local autonomy, innovation and choice. Higher education policy channels funding and discriminates in favour of incumbent public institutions, some of which have serious quality and efficiency issues.

Twenty years after the Hilmer report on competition policy, the sector that most needs it, higher education, is perhaps least touched by the principles of competitive neutrality. We need efficient and high-quality higher education not just because of the size of its government subsidies, but because its performance is crucial in a world where skills and networks determine winners and losers.

Treatment of private institutions and new entrants intersects with the place of religion in higher education because of our history of theological education outside universities. We need quality, depth and diversity in the way we deal with higher education because so many important public policy issues involve the relationship between religion and some other field.

For instance, well over 50% of social services in Australia are delivered under contract by church-related organisations. To properly understand and construct appropriate regulatory arrangements, input is required from economics, law, sociology and theology.

Researchers and students with a good theological education are also needed to support Australia’s engagement with Asia. Our sharp separation between religion and other areas of scholarships puzzles Asians. The proportion of resources devoted to religion scholarship is tiny compared to other countries engaging with Asia such as the US or UK.

Regulatory horrors

There are three main problems, “horrors”, with the current regulatory arrangements:

  1. Discrimination in student funding. Although students outside the universities have had access to the Commonwealth loan scheme in recent years, their institutions receive no funding.

For instance, Charles Sturt University receives Commonwealth funding for a theology student enrolled at the Anglican St Marks’s Theological College in Canberra, since it affiliated with the university in 1997. The Australian College of Theology, a fully accredited and highly respected theological provider since 1891, receives nothing for an almost identical Anglican student. Both students could be candidates for Anglican ministry.

Alphacrucis College receives no funding for its students, whether in theology or in the new faculties of education and business. Australian Catholic University receives full Commonwealth funding while offering similar courses taught in some cases by the same staff. Both are fully accredited by TEQSA. Both are open to all students regardless of religious faith or lack thereof.

Measures such as entry TERs, skills of graduating students and employment rates suggest that the quality is higher at the institution that receives no funding. The fact that students are prepared to pay significant sums of money for similar courses that receive no funding also suggests that quality is higher than at the heavily subsidised public university alternative.

No wonder university chiefs are keen to maintain the funding status quo. Reading suggestions like opening funding to all accredited providers and using minimum quality standards (not necessarily TERs) to control the Commonwealth’s budget contribution cause university chiefs at marginal metropolitan universities to choke on their breakfasts.

  1. Discrimination in research student funding. The situation is even stranger here. Funding follows the choice of institution of a theology PhD student to Charles Sturt University, or even Melbourne College of Divinity, but not to institutions like the Australian College of Theology, which are fully accredited to offer the degree and have produced some of the leading scholars in the field. Again the fact that students choose these unfunded providers says something about quality.

The strange arrangements deliver strange outcomes - such as students enrolling in one institution but being effectively attached to and supervised by staff at another institution, or diverting students to lesser but funded institutions for their PhDs.

Fixing this would not be costly. The main effect of the discriminatory funding arrangements is reallocating students between institutions rather than increasing the total number of PhD students.

  1. Discrimination in research funding. Despite research capacity being a key requirement for private providers to receive accreditation to offer degrees, and eventually advance to university status, they are ineligible for Australian Research Council (ARC) funding.

At a recent workshop involving senior ARC staff and leaders of the major religion and theology providers, both public and private, the conclusion was that fixing this is a political decision. It involves changes to the list of eligible institutions in the funding rules that the education minister approves for each ARC scheme each round. Surely allowing everyone to apply means that the available pool of money is distributed to the best research projects at institutions that have the infrastructure to support research? Research environment is a key assessment criterion for ARC applications.

In relation to theology, existing ARC processes have problems. These include lack of expertise on the panels, shallowness of the assessor pool in theology, and issues of classification. Some of the problems come from the changes in the theology sector and theology academics' lack of familiarity and expertise with ARC processes.

Theology researchers look forward to progress after the generous engagement of senior ARC staff at the workshop. The highly successful Religion and Society program funded jointly by the Humanities Research Council and the Social Science Sesearch Council in the UK might be a model for Australia.

That there are problems with research funding is not in doubt. From 2002-13, 38 ARC grants were made in religion, representing 0.2% of grants and 0.1% of funding. Only two grants were recognisably theological – many seem to be resolutely negative (as opposed to critical) about the religious tradition under study. Judging by grants awarded, Muslims mainly want to blow us up and mainstream Christians are a threat to society in all manner of other ways.

Some benchmarks for the broader category of religion grants are that the field produces 2.7% of books and 0.4% of refereed journal articles. Of academic staff, 0.3% who work at ARC-eligible institutions and 0.9% in the higher education system nominate religion as their primary research field.

Hope

Despite the horrors, which would be remarkably easy and inexpensive to fix, I have hope for religious and theological scholarship in Australia. A great opportunity exists for transformative philanthropy in an area where the government has not kept pace with the changes.

In Australia, debates about religion tend not to be disfigured by the political polarisation and ill-temper that we see in the US, nor by the association of religion with national causes and long history of conflict that characterises European debates. We can become a centre of religion scholarship, connecting with the religiously vibrant societies of Asia, Africa and Latin America.


This article is based on Paul Oslington’s lecture at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney on February 20, 2014, under the auspices of their Religion in a Free Society program. A video of the full lecture can be seen here and links to the supporting data are available at the CIS website.

Articles also by This Author

Sign in to Favourite

Join the conversation

61 Comments sorted by

  1. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Perhaps what the author wants can be covered in Comparative Anthropology rather than in Faith Studies 101?

    report
  2. Neil Oldfield

    Analyst

    If you want to study your magic sky fairy, then pay for it yourself. I dont want to have to fund your lifestyle choises.

    report
    1. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Gary Luke

      I'm with you, Gary, sick of the whining from sports people looking for from the government early in their careers, then unwilling to put in later, when they've 'made it'.

      report
    2. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Mark Amey

      They are both"opium for the masses" but sport at least has winners whereas religion has none

      report
    3. Neil Oldfield

      Analyst

      In reply to Gary Luke

      Gary, I am with you there, while we are at it make our AIS graduates pay HECs

      report
    4. Neil Oldfield

      Analyst

      In reply to John Doyle

      I dont know about no winners, the pope and the cardinals seem to live quite well off the profits (or should that be prophets)

      report
    5. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Neil Oldfield

      I meant they [believers] will be sorely disappointed when they expect to front up to the next world. And as Kerry P said "there ain't nothing there"

      report
  3. Pera Lozac

    Heat management assistant

    Religion should be part of universities – to be studied as one of the deepest perversions of what means to be a human, to remind us of all stupidity and limitation of the human race and inability to accept the otherness.

    report
  4. Fred Pribac

    logged in via email @internode.on.net

    I have a soft spot for the study of theology - specially when it leads to former ministers being excommunicated or even charged with heresy because they have the audacity to think for themselves.

    report
    1. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Fred Pribac

      Well said; the European Court of Human Rights has a case pending about the public funding of German , Dutch and Belgian Catholic universities that silence or expel Catholic theologians who teach theologies opposed to those of the last two papacies. It looks like a foregone conclusion that they will lose their funding!

      report
  5. Mark Amey

    logged in via Facebook

    Mmmm, a pentecostal bible college doesn't receive commonwealth funding, whodathunkit?

    report
    1. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Mark Amey

      I'm not too sure about that Mark, but I do know young men studying for the priesthood can receive Austudy.

      report
    2. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Mark Amey

      Why on page 7 of some Gideon bibles handed out to the unwary in state high schools in Queensland does it represent itself as a book of science? It is relentless. It never sleeps, it always is demanding more recognition and respect, more money, more authority, more power, more say, more control, more exceptions, more access, more rights, more privilege... more, more, more of everything, and indeed gets much of what it wants including hapless brain space and special treatment within social security law.

      report
    3. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      They want to pay less taxes!

      PS, don't tell me you are a hotel room reading the bible?

      report
    4. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Government paid school "chaplains" also cop it sweet on Austudy if their studies are considered properly to satisfy standards criteria. If not their time spent as school "chaplains" is considered to satisfy their participation requirement for New Start benefits so they may be free for the remainder of a given benefit fortnightly payment period to study what is not considered properly acceptable or to engage in proselytising or other religionist activities unhindered. There are various other special treatment lurks available to religious lay and volunteers.

      report
    5. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Mark Amey

      Not at all Mark. I was shocked when my son (who was religious indoctrination opt out) along with the rest of the entire junior high school student body were sent by staff to some kind of Gideon associated proselytising assembly in the school hall one afternoon. All were placed in a position where they had to accept what was going down and to accept a Gideon new testament. I shall never forget how the deputy principal's protestations to me on the phone that it was all quite ok, nothing to be alarmed about, or even a positive thing, collapsed when he had to admit he'd never read that page 7 claim in his own little book!

      report
    6. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Haven't seen this in NSW, but a group of Pentecostals used to come to my son's high school for an hour every six weeks, to 'entertain' the kids. The kids laughed at them, not with them!

      Yes, the science of the Bible, great reading!

      report
    7. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      It's so much about power, Graeme. They want society to follow their dictates and belief system. It's been extremely successful as we can see all around us.
      Well, time is up!
      No longer should religious organisations be eligible for political office. No longer should they benefit from tax concessions.
      There should be no teaching in schools etc except as history.
      Keep it free to believe, but at their own cost.

      report
    8. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to John Doyle

      It is taught in schools though.

      The same son, a few years later in a different high school, studying the senior Qld Board of Studies subject: Earth Science. His teacher had a relevant science degree in addition to teaching qualifications. She followed and taught the curriculum, BUT was a young earther. She was prone to ending lessons or study units with criticisms of the science just taught, "alternative" "explanations", and exhibited an air of cynicism throughout. Plate techtonics! "..if you…

      Read more
    9. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Mark Amey

      And also the further question about the enormous difference between the two, which leads me to additionally ask about what the hell the author is doing masquerading under an 'adjunct', public sector ACU banner instead of his own private college?

      report
  6. John Campbell

    farmer

    You were nearly right but not quite - religious issues definitely threatens the health of a free society.

    report
  7. Justin Millikan

    Social Simulation Scientist, Pres. Humanist Society of SA

    I think we can safely solve this inequity in funding. Just remove ALL funding from all fantasy-based Universities. Fantasy scholarship should (with a capital "should") be marginalised. Then you'll get just as much as the Humanist Universities...oh just wait...

    report
    1. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Justin Millikan

      Well said; Peter Craven, VC at ACU (and former VC of Nortre Dame) had no idea what a favour he was doing to his liberal and radical theologians when he acceded to both institutions becoming public universities. Even, nay especially, theology should not nor cannot be contained if it is to go public! All it requires is that the rigorous norms of academic scholarly and peer-reviewed research should be applied and met!

      report
  8. Peter Campbell

    Scientist (researcherid B-7232-2008)

    I don't know what one would study in 'theology'. I know what is studied in biology or sociology or anthropology, for that matter physics or economics even though they don't have ...ology for the suffix. Unless it is a discipline that has a properly sceptical position at its core, weighing and testing evidence, and in principle being open to persuasion to alternative positions by the strength of an argument and the evidence, then I don't see how it is a university subject.
    Perhaps I have misunderstood what modern 'theology' is. Perhaps it does not assume a particular god or gods in general. Perhaps it instead concerns itself with the phenomenon of religion in all its florid manifestations and investigates that in a scientific fashion. If that is what 'theology' is then I think it would be an appropriate and fascinating area of research for universities to be involved in.

    report
    1. Gavin Moodie
      Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Adjunct professor at RMIT University

      In reply to Peter Campbell

      Theology was a core university discipline - 'the queen of the sciences'- since their foundation in the 11th century until, say, the 18th century. It tried to resolve ambiguities and apparent contradictions in christian orthodoxy. For example, how could god be one yet also a trinity, as christian orthodoxy proclaims? How might the doctrine of original sin be reconciled with penitents' conscience? I don't know the concerns of modern theology.

      report
    2. Luke Weston

      Physicist / electronic engineer

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      As Christopher Hitchens said, it was our first attempt at philosophy, at cosmology, at medicine, at literature. It was our worst attempt, but it was our first.

      And a thousand years ago this made perfect sense as a core university discipline - 'the queen of the sciences'. But today? Not so much.

      report
    3. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Luke Weston

      Hitchens's atheistic position is widely argued and supported as theological in many of the more liberal and reputable theological schools. Belief and faith, as the author says, do not necessarily debar university candidates from the academic study of theology.

      report
  9. David Oakenfull

    food scientist

    Thank you, Paul, for an interesting and well researched article.

    And I'm always fascinated by how fast the anti-Christian trolls pop out from under their bridges!

    report
    1. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to David Oakenfull

      David, an internet troll is usually defined as a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. Given that the posters, here, are usual commentators on The Conversation articles, your assertion is untrue, unless you can furnish evidence that they (we) surf the internet for 'Christian' articles to lambast.

      It is an interesting article, but, as some believe, theology may be less deserving of student support than other disciplines.

      report
  10. Stephen Nicholson
    Stephen Nicholson is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Town Planner

    Should I make sweeping generalisations about atheists from the conduct of some arrogant, narrow-minded or even tyrannical atheists? There are some widely publicised actions by some people of religion that rightly deserve to be condemned, but that does not justify wholesale condemnation of religious faith and life.
    Some of the negative comments seem to come from ignorance or focusing on extremes, rather than acknowledging the breadth of low-profile and constructive religious communities. Many prominent Australian leaders are people of faith.
    Perhaps a willingness to gain a deeper understanding of the diversity and richness of religious belief wouldn't go astray.

    report
    1. Mark Amey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Stephen Nicholson

      Perhaps these posters aren't making 'sweeping generalisations', but comments based on a lifetime of experience!

      report
    2. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Stephen Nicholson

      There's faith and there's blind faith. There's ignorance and there's wilful ignorance. Having faith in a religion is no sin but telling others what and how to believe is a sin. Organised religion is just so much about power that to ignore it is wilful ignorance.
      Religion well deserves all the negative press it gets. It's fine to believe. Even if it is just a fantasy, that's nobody else's business. However if religious types want to influence how society is run or such then they are making us their business,which means we can make them our business, and actively oppose even disrespect it. After all proselytising is an arrogant sign of disrespect for the culture it targets and religions are sorely guilty of that.

      report
    3. Stephen Nicholson
      Stephen Nicholson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Town Planner

      In reply to Mark Amey

      Mark, I trying to caution against relying on anecdotes together with a dash or two of confirmation bias, because sweeping generalisations tend to miss the full picture. Of course the illustrations give grounds for concern, but that isn't the full story.
      Giving more such illustrations doesn't change my point - it's easy to identify what we don't like because we notice more easily.

      report
    4. Stephen Nicholson
      Stephen Nicholson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Town Planner

      In reply to John Doyle

      John, you are generalising about organised religion. Yes, some leaders abuse it for the power (or prestige) it can give. There is also a lot of good work quietly being done by others through organised religion.
      I think we agree that we should strive for a level playing field with power and resources. But that is an illusive goal, irrespective of religion. Also, I hope you are not suggesting that a person of a faith should not participate in political processes.

      report
    5. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Stephen Nicholson

      Stephen. I am suggesting that a person of faith can participate in the political process just like any other citizen but he should not use his belief to promote a religious policy. One thinks of Fred Nile here as an example. His belief is his business and should be kept to him or herself.
      Yes, happy to generalise. it doesn't cover all the bases, but it does cover the experiences through history and the knowledge of power and influence peddling that went on meddling with how other people were treated…

      Read more
    6. Stephen Nicholson
      Stephen Nicholson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Town Planner

      In reply to John Doyle

      John, I acknowledge much of what you say. Except you seem to be inferring that religions are inherently evil, and therefore presumably contaminate every religious person. Clearly that isn't the case. Which means that the there are much more complex explanations - too complex to work through in these posts.

      report
    7. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Stephen Nicholson

      There is good and evil in every endeavour, Stephen but I stress the evil to counter the positive spin religion tries to convey. That was why I singled out morals, something many believe only came with religion.
      The evils need to be shown the light of day.
      Right now for example we discover that fundamentalist evangelical church members in the USA have exerted influence and bankrolled the efforts in Russia and Uganda to have anti gay laws passed. This is truly evil and disgusting behaviour.

      report
    8. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Stephen Nicholson

      Inherent evil and contamination? By way of analogy, not all persons contaminated (infected) with a communicable disease evidently may suffer the disease. It may be sub-clinical, incubating, or they may be carriers. Clearly that is the case with these inherent "evils".

      Complex explanations - too complex to work through in these posts? Yes, and also highly unlikely to be rigorously worked through by extending any more Australian university accreditation, space, or funding to religionist causes to do with divinity or theologically related disciplines. Less not more is manifestly required there. Allocation of additional resources in such areas as evolutionary biology and psychology, cultural, sociological, and political studies would be transparently more to the point.

      report
    9. Stephen Nicholson
      Stephen Nicholson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Town Planner

      In reply to John Doyle

      John, I don't have a problem with you wanting to give a counterpoint to positive spin. The impression I had from the posts (maybe generally) was the view that organised religion had no positive points at all.
      Any organisation can be corrupted by human greed, hunger for power, etc. Unfortunately organised religion is not immune to this - seeking to grow in your faith doesn't make you perfect, though I suggest it should lead to humility. Not matter what the organisation those less corrupted generally don't get noticed or the same media exposure.

      report
    10. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to John Doyle

      Although Dawkins never engages in the religious debate as Hitchens did but poured scorn on it from the perspective of his discipline, which has nothing to say about theology. Many theologians recognise that Hitchens's position, while not a 'faithed'one, was essentially theological as he engaged vociferously and with razor sharp intelligence with those who insisted that authentic theology was about subjective faith and nothing else. His magnificent tome, 'Arguably' (Angus & Unwin, 2010) is on the prescribed reading list for several theology courses.

      report
    11. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Stephen Nicholson

      Although the general purpose of a deep-seated intellectual quest, Stephen, is surely to bring critical inquiry to its claims, including the theological. This is accordingly why theology is studied at public universities, while faith-based 'formation' is an evangelical and positivistic immersion carried out at private, church-based seminaries and madrasas.

      Incidentally, mainstream Christian novices and seminarians routinely undertake their theological studies at public universities, while their formative/formational immersion occurs at private church-run colleges and seminaries. And long may that distinction be honoured, since the state has no business subsidising particular faith or belief systems.

      By way of example, the High Court decision in the DOGS case against the public funding of Catholic schools rested on the argument that the Catholic school met all the criteria of being a legitimate educational institution and was not a Church!

      report
    12. Stephen Nicholson
      Stephen Nicholson is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Town Planner

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      1. To John - I had been feeling it was time to wind it up too, but I didn't want to come across the wrong way. Thanks for your thoughtful posts and clarifications.

      2. To Michael - I don't have a problem with what you are saying. Actually, I agree more with you than with those church leaders who sound just like the pharisees or sadducees that Jesus condemned.

      report
    13. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Michael - "the High Court decision in the DOGS case against the public funding of Catholic schools rested on the argument that the Catholic school met all the criteria of being a legitimate educational institution and was not a Church!" - no such thing! They presented next to no facts in support of such a claim in arguing the matter, they told the Court prior to the full bench hearing "We (church school interest) say that the Facts (which in preliminaries they had spent 27 days arguing against…

      Read more
    14. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Graeme, I am not a constitutional lawyer but have the entire script of the case available to me as well as the direct quote that I have used from it in my doctoral dissertation.

      Moreover, my doctoral supervisor, eminent research Professor Bob Lingard, is a champion of public education and without equal in his reputation and scholarly work for both his research integrity and and detailed knowledge on this question.

      Reading, not necessarily between the lines, you must admit that there is much…

      Read more
    15. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      Prof Bob Lingard? No offence meant, but Christopher Pyne also has been proclaimed an earnest champion of public education. Appeals to authority don't cut it - witness a stacked HC. Eva Cox blundering about all over the right these libertarian days trading on former notoriety and popping up with appeals to an authority (lost) is good for a laugh, I suppose. Michael, unlike church school interests then (and now), I admit the facts.

      report
    16. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Ah, Graeme! One of the Old Redoubtables, like the DLP/NCC, no doubt! What must life be like, hunkered down in a very damp and musty dungeon? My suggestion: forsake the plumy ostrich feathers and fight for justice in the here and now. There's too much at stake in waging elderly wars based on paranoia and misinformation, quite apart from the fact that the powerless need brains and energy, just like your's.

      report
    17. Graeme Smith

      Citizen

      In reply to Michael Leonard Furtado

      There's not much more that is here and now and tomorrow than K1-12 and the damage done by ongoing sectarian rorts. The war for separation of religion and state is as ever young as it is old. It is not the powerless that need the old divide and rule tricks.

      report
    18. Michael Leonard Furtado

      Doctor at University of Queensland

      In reply to Graeme Smith

      Agreed; but it depends on how one defines that separation, Graeme. Several posts here argue that to compare evangelical fundamentalist charismatic faith-based schools like Paul Oslington's with, say, Catholic, non-evangelical Anglican and Uniting Church schools, is fallacious.

      Catholics believe and teach such a separation explicitly, being unreservedly committed by virtue of their Church governance (the Vatican is an independent state) to the very opposite of the principle of non-separation…

      Read more