“We support the continuation of Christian Religious Programs in NZ state schools!”
The ongoing issue concerning the provision of Christian religious education in New Zealand public schools has drawn attention yet again. With reference to the issue, the Auckland Korean Churches Association (AKCA), along with other Korean Christian churches and denominations in New Zealand, issues a public statement on behalf of the 10,000 Korean Christians residing in New Zealand.
We, the AKCA, raise concern in regards to the legal dispute that the Secular Education Network has made against Christian religious education in public schools and also towards the negative views from some schools, mass media and the general public. We support the continued provision of Christian religious education in public schools in New Zealand.
New Zealand, a country with a Christian social structure, ideology and culture
New Zealand was no doubt established with Christian biblical values. Previously deemed as a Christian nation, it has established all legal and societal structures based on biblical instruction and the fear of God. This fact formed New Zealand as an idealistic country that differentiates it from other countries in the world.
This can be found by looking into the social structures and welfare system of New Zealand. One of the factors that impresses many Korean immigrants is the distinctive social structure of New Zealand. The country has deep consideration for the vulnerable groups of society such as women, children, the sick and the disabled. In practice, such consideration extends to being a part of the cultural customs of New Zealanders. This, when compared with countries that have second-class citizenry (people that are systematically discriminated against and have restrictions places on their rights and freedom), sheds a favourable light on New Zealand.
We have no doubt that such social structure, ideology and culture were formed with the influence of Christianity and Biblical inspiration. The Bible, from the beginning to the end, consistently urges Christians to take care of the vulnerable, widows and children. Jesus held a special place in his heart for the weak and the under-privileged and said whatever we did for one of the least is what we did for Jesus.
Furthermore, New Zealand, when compared to many other countries, also provides equal benefits of education and opportunities for employment to every New Zealander. We strongly believe that the realization of a just society is because it is established on the basis of biblical values.
Valuing people, helping the vulnerable, giving equal opportunities and the advancement of social justice are the core messages of the Bible, and also the values that New Zealand has kept for a long time. It is very apparent that New Zealand’s social structure and culture are largely influenced by Christianity and the Bible from the beginning until now.
New Zealand, a nation with an awe of God
Recently, we were shocked once again after hearing the news about blasphemy laws in New Zealand. It is a controversial issue but we could feel deeply that New Zealand ancestors established New Zealand in awe of God.
What does it mean by having awe for God? These are not just religious words. Having awe for God (or fearing God) is about acknowledging a divine being, fearing evil, loving justice and righteousness, and extending efforts to take care of our neighbours and the vulnerable sectors of society. They are the purpose and the reason for fearing God.
New Zealand public schools have allowed the provision of optional religious education in public schools since 1897. We believe that these teachings have had many positive effects on the ideas and society of many Kiwis, regardless of whether they are Christians or not.Therefore, it would be safe to say that New Zealand was built on many values of the Bible.
The reason why Korean immigrants choose New Zealand
The reason for many Korean Christians choosing New Zealand is because New Zealand was built on Christian values. It is the wish of many Koreans living in New Zealand to live in a society that corresponds to Christian values and to learn from them.
We, Korean Christians, love New Zealand. We love its nature, society and culture. But more than anything else, we love the nation that was built on Christian values. We are thankful and also proud that we live in a country which once sent the largest number of missionaries in ratio to its population, which still has a blasphemy law in its national law (whether it fits in the current era or not), and has religious education in public schools.
We hope that our next generation will continue to learn biblical values and corresponding things here. It is the reason we dreamt of life in New Zealand. Therefore, we the 10,000 Korean Christians firmly reject the claims SEN has made.
The insistence of teaching various religions, not Christian classes.
Some argue that New Zealand, as a multicultural nation, must hold people with various religious backgrounds, and that it is not fair to continue having only Christian religious classes taught in schools. They claim that if religious classes must continue, then many other religions also need to be taught at schools.
However, we believe that these claims will bring more confusion to students. The religious education that is currently provided in schools is actually a time to learn biblical values and morals rather than an indoctrination of the Christian religion. Currently, CEC's educational direction is not forcing religion in accordance with the government's policy. CEC's Christian lessons are mainly teaching children the spirit about honoring their parents, being kind to gentiles, loving their neighbors, and giving priority to the weak.
We emphasize that in accordance with the New Zealand Education Act 1964, the provision of Christian religious education in public schools is voluntary and at the discretion of each school’s Board of Trustees. These religious education classes support the teachings and development of the morality in our students and is not in any way a method of indoctrination. Schools are at the liberty of choosing which religions they offer religious education classes for and therefore, this poses no conflict with respect to New Zealand law.
Purely in terms of practice, it seems impractical to offer classes in numerous religions in the short time frame of a typical school day. The current religious education classes offered in schools emphasis the teaching of universal moral values found in the Bible. This is more in line with the needs of school children rather than the history of the religion. By this reasoning, there is no need for children to be offered a selection of religions as in the current religious education classes they are already being taught good moral values that are shared universally.
The bottom line is that these religious education classes are completely optional and all students and parents have the option of declining this. In this situation, students are provided with other programs or activities at the decision of their school. The accusations of this system encouraging discrimination or even bullying is ludicrous and the nature of such groundless attacks are outside the jurisdiction of religious education providers as they are merely providing a service in line with the freedom of religion, free speech and at free will. The onus is on the parents and schools to manage any fringe issues where students may feel exclusion due to their parents declining their children from participating in religion classes.
We hope that our children will have the opportunity to continue learning the great Biblical values in the New Zealand education system.The Bible contains beautiful and noble values such aslove, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.These values will help our children to learn to form the right personality and to create New Zealand with such a beautiful society and culture. We desperately hope that children will not lose these precious opportunities.
An estimated 50 percent of the population in New Zealand still identifies with Christianity. New Zealand should not ignore such a significant figure. Of course we must not ignore other ethnic and religious groups as the Bible instructs us to love our neighbours. However, New Zealand must not eradicate its values and traditions. We must maintain our utmost consideration.
For New Zealand, a country which has long been formed by biblical influences, throwing away Christianity at this point in time under the pretense of respecting other religions, does not mean merely excluding Christian religion, but throwing away the traditions and values of Christianity. The history and foundation of New Zealand is entwined in Christianity. The constant change and evolution of the times is a matter of course, but if shaken down to its core value, New Zealand will become a nation with no national identity. We hope Kiwis do not forget Christianity has been the main influence on the culture and tradition of New Zealand, and also forms its basic values and beliefs system. We desperately wish New Zealand to continue its good traditions and values in order to be able to keep the uniqueness and distinctiveness of New Zealand.
We wish for us, Korean Christians in New Zealand, to carry on living in this beautiful country with biblical values where people have awe for God and love others. It is the reason and purpose of our immigration to New Zealand.
Therefore 10,000 Korean Christians in New Zealand oppose the proposal for the abolition of Christian education or conversion into religious lessons, and we actively support the continuation of Christian religious education in schools.
All the members of Auckland Korean Churches Association
AKCA Member Churches and Organisations
Albany Korean Baptist Church / All Nations Mission Centre / Anointing Presbyterian Church / Aotearoa Joyful Church / Auckland Bethel Community Church / Auckland Eden City Mission Church / Auckland full gospel church / Auckland Korean Corps / Auckland Korean Methodist Church / Auckland Onnuri Vision Church / Auckland So Mang Church / Auckland Vision Baptist Church / Auckland Yang Moo Ree Church / Blessing Church of Auckland / Calvary Korean Church / Child Evangelism Fellowship / Church of the Word / Eden Korean Presbyterian Church / Eternal Vision Church / Eun-Chong Korean Presbyterian Church / Evergreen Baptist Church / Full Gospel Mission Centre / Global Mission Centre / God's Garden Church of Auckland / Grace and Truth Korean Church in Auckland / Han-Ou-Ri Presbyterian Church of Auckland / Immanuel Korean Church in Auckland / International City Church & International Outreach / Joy Korean Presbyterian Church in Auckland / Juhyang Community Church / Jukibbum Baptist Church / Korean Alliance Church of Auckland / Korean Auckland Community Christian Centre / Korean Peace Presbyterian Church of Auckland / Korean Presbyterian Church of Auckland / Kwang Yum Baptist Church / KwangMyung Presbyterian Church / Lifespring Korean Presbyterian church / Lord's Church of Auckland / Morning Grace Korean Church / New Song Presbyterian Church of Auckland / New Zealand Daeheung Baptist Church / Northshore Korean Presbyterian Church / NZ Good Neighbor Church / Okto Presbyterian Church Auckland / Pacific All Nations Church / Pan Pacific Mission Church / Parakai Jesus Love Church / Rodem Evangelical Holiness Church / Sum Kim Ui Church / The Drawing of Heaven Church / The Dream Church / The Evangelical Holiness church of New Zealand / West Auckland Korean Church / Wooridle Church AOG NZ / World Milal in New Zealand / Ye Dong Evangelical Holiness Church of New Zealand
Korean Christian Denominations in New Zealand who support this Statement:
The Korean Methodist Church, Seoul South Annual Conference, South Pacific District / Korea Evangelical Holiness Church, New Zealand District / The Korea Assemblies of God in New Zealand / The New Zealand Synod of Korean Presbyterian Church in Oceania / Oceanian Synod of Korean Presbyterian Church (Soon Jang) / Full Gospel Oceania Mission / The Korean Presbyterian Church Abroad, New Zealand Presbytery / New Zealand Presbytery of The General Assembly of Presbyterian church in Oceania / Korean Churches under Baptist Union of New Zealand