RSA seeks answers from NSW government over creationist teaching materials in SRE

Si Gladman / 27 February 2023

The Rationalist Society of Australia has questioned the New South Wales education minister on why the government appears to be allowing the teaching of creationism in public schools as part of the Special Religious Education (SRE) program.

The RSA has discovered an SRE teaching manual that promotes the creationist myth and is used by Anglican SRE instructors.

In the ‘Stage 3 curriculum teacher’s manual’ titled Big Questions (2018 edition), page 5 (see image below) compares creation with evolution, claiming that “some people think the theories of evolution and creation by God can both be true.”

The manual states: “Genesis tells us who started life and why God made the world. It tells us what he is like and why people were created.” It contrasts this with, “Evolution … is a theory that has been worked out by some scientists. It tries to explain how life has developed and changed over time.”

The manual also states:

  • “Some people don’t believe what the Bible says about creation. They don’t believe God is in control.”
  • “Some people think there are many things wrong with the theory of evolution and that it isn’t true.”

In 2009, the NSW government issued a notice reminding teachers that Creationism and Intelligent Design were not part of the NSW Education Standards Authority’s science syllabuses. The notice said that if Creationism and Intelligent Design were taught “as part of any school-based program”, then it must be made clear to students that they were “not scientific, nor evidence-based”.

In a letter to Minister Sarah Mitchell, RSA president Meredith Doig asked whether it was acceptable for creationism to be smuggled into public schools under the guise of the SRE program.

Dr Doig also asked Minister Mitchell to explain what steps the Perrottet government would take to prevent SRE instructors from indoctrinating public school children with the anti-scientific creationist myth.

New South Wales parents have long been concerned about the teaching of fundamentalist views in SRE. As part of a 2015 review of the SRE program, parents raised concerns about instructors “teaching what parents perceive as fundamentalist views or literal interpretations of the scriptures that could be seen as anti-science. For example, teaching creationism or that dinosaurs never existed.” 

The RSA is urging both major parties to change their policy on SRE and stop segregating public school children along religious lines during class time. 

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Image: Sarah Mitchell MLC (Facebook)

All the more reason.