A review of Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act has made some interesting recommendations.
At the moment, religious schools in Victoria have the right to discriminate on the basis of faith. For example, a Muslim school can refuse to employ a Jewish cleaner or a conservative Christian school a woman who is unmarried and pregnant.
A parliamentary review has recommended broadening the definition into “core” and “non-core” roles, so discrimination would only be applied to roles where it actually matters. Under this model the school chaplain can’t be a Satanist but it doesn’t matter so much if the maths teacher is (although he does go on about pentagrams a fair bit … ).
People running religious schools obviously think it’s a bad idea. And I agree.
This is just too one-sided. Even now, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find any number of atheists teaching in Christian schools, where their atheism is overlooked just because of their teaching ability.
This proposal takes us in completely the wrong direction. We should give more discriminatory power to these schools, not less.
In fact, let’s go the whole hog. Religious schools should be obliged to only employ people who share their faith.
Before being appointed, applicants must prove their allegiance by swearing on their particular holy book and passing a detailed examination on the tenets of their doctrine.
All staff must be monitored constantly to ensure their behaviour is in line with the appropriate religious doctrine. Any breaches of protocol, whether on school grounds or in the person’s home, will result in immediate dismissal.
Of course religious schools might struggle to retain staff under such a regime, and student numbers would drop off as teaching standards fell.
And Government funding would have to be cut because they’d now be straight religious institutions rather than educational institutions.
And in fact, after a while we’d probably see very few religious schools remaining.
That’d be a shame.
But keeping the schools’ religious values pure is obviously critically important, so surely that’s a small price to pay.