Children have religious freedom of choice

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. This right applies to children as well as adults. It includes the right to be free from coercion in matters of religion.

In the matter of Macri vs Macri in the Federal Magistrates Court in Melbourne, on 6 July, Magistrate Terry McGuire upheld the right of children to choose their religion. How is this right consistent with aspects of an education system that support the indoctrination of children, the entire purpose of which is to deny children the right to freedom of choice of religion?

In Australia, any sect, cult or religion can obtain government funding for their schools, in which they are able to instil in children that their beliefs are the one true faith. Apart from denying children’s right to religious freedom of choice and suppressing critical thinking, this also instils divisive ideologies in the minds of future citizens.

“The Secular Party looks forward to the day this freedom is extended to all children, not just those with warring parents”, said Secular Party president, John Perkins.

What is needed in Australia is a real education revolution that would overhaul the entire system of funding for faith schools. For a harmonious future we need to cultivate reason and evidence-based beliefs, and ethics based on the universal principles of compassion, honesty, freedom and justice.

Jul 7, 2010