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NOTES AMP VIEWS ON THE REFERENDUM PROPOSAL

PLAIN WOKDS FROM A METHODIST JOURNAL WILL MAKE IT AN ELECTION ISSUE. The currmt issue of the "Methodist Times" contains a ttrjking article on the Ke ferendum Bill now before Parliament. Hero it is iv lull, tind it nny brf said in passing that the "Methodist Times" is the official organ and voiuea ttie views of the Methodist Church;— We have reached a pretty pass in New Zealand in connection, with the Bible insohools movement. The question of the right or wrong of introducing tbeßiole into our State schools is being overshadowed by the larger question as 10 whether or not the people of this country who pay for these schools have the right to baye any say whatever concerning what shall be included in the school curriculum. In what claims to be one of the most democratic counties under the sun, the grossly undemocratic theory is seriously put forward that the people must not, and shall not have the opportunity of expressing their opinion on a matter of vital importance to their childrens welfare. A number of individuals in the community have become possessed of the idea that | here are certain matters on which the people at are not, to ba trusted, and this matter of what thallbe taught in the schools they pay for is oue of 'hem, If the oonsequenoes wore not two serious.no smali amusement orient be obtained from a study of the delicious assumptions made by the individuals referred to. As Bishop Sprott, of Wellington, has pointed out it is really a rivival iv another form the old theory of the divine .right of kings, _ By a certain assumed right, obtained from goodness knows where, a number of persons in this country cooily undertake to declare in the mo 4 dogmatic fashoti imaginable that they nave all ready decided concerning what is proper to be taught in our schools and that any appeal to the people that might possibly result in decision being challenged must i.ct fjr a moment be thought of. And it is in New Zealand of all couutiies in the world thai t'is outrage on the rights of tje peop cis being attempted. Imagine the hue and cry th it would be raised if the liquor-sellers should solemnly annoui cc to announce to tie Government that the matter of the sale of liquor was one on which the opinion of th. people ou?ht not to be consulted, and tne Government should be inclined to give heed to them! Diotated to by the liquor-sellers as to whether or not the liquor tiaffic should exist! Is it Ibbb imperious, leas impertinent that the people at laige should be die. tated to by Anti.Bible in School League leaders concerning what shah be taught to their own children in their own school-? -Oh, but" we were told, "This is a matter of con science, and that mates all the difference between tha liquor question and the qi cation of Bible in schoais." Couscience, indeed ! What humbug is being palmed off upon the public to j day on the back of that grossly abused word ! By all means, let the right of conscience be respected, but where, pray, are tne rights of conscience invaded by the pioe posal that the people shall have the opportunity of saying whether the Bible shall or sha 1 not be taught in lheir own schools ? But whose conscience would really be jaopardisei by the ejcercised of a right that inheres in the fundamental idea of Citizenship ! Tne Bible in Schools League system, wherever introduced, iespects the rights of con. science in every way far as can reasonably be expected. If it be contended that the result of the lit ferendum might be such as to involve an obligation on ceitain sections of the community io which they bad conscientious objection, it fatill remains to be asked on wh t giounds the oi nseiences of such people claim consideration in preference to the con sciences of those who, in such case, wou dbe in the moj iriiv ? Mo child receives a Bible leßson or religious instruction against the wish of its parents, and no teacher is called on to discharge a dnty that can fairly be construed as trenching on the domain of conscience The fact that among all the thousands of teacherb in Austral a of all creeds who are giving such Bible lessons to.day a difficulty mi the point of conscience is practically unkn wn is surely strong evidence in support ii such a contention. But it is to be rem> mD red that it is not that system that is njw on it- trial. Whether the system is right or wrong i 3 not the question on which Parliament is to*declare itself. It is the graver question of whether the educational system shall have a voice in declaring whether the euuca< tional destinies of this country are to be controlled by a number of self appointed dictators or whether the people who bear the cost of our educational system shall have a voice in deolaring whether they will or will uot have the present eystom modified in the direction of Eible teaching. To say that Parliament must l.ot grant a .Referendum because it has received no mandate to that effect from the country is to raise an argument "that outs in more ways than one. When Parliament decided to banish the Bible from our school cur, rioulum. was that step taken as the mandate from the country ? Everybody knows that in that matter the people were not consulted at all. If they had been, such a gross and unpardonable act of vandal an would rever have been perpetrated. Parliament is not now asked to restore the B ble to ihe pluce f<om which it never shmld have been taken; "what it is asked to do is to provide the machinery whereby the people may declare whether they want the Bible back or not. If a request hased on such elementary justice Q3 this is to be denied, it will be of some interest to note hew far those responsible lor buch a highhanded refusal to trust ihe pecple will themselves be deemed worthy of trust when they once more seek to win the support of the electors. There are trmny thousands of people! in this country who hitherto have taken no active iplereft in pontics who will be touched ! to the quick by what they will regard as the deliberate flouting of their right to be I heard on a matter which is to them of the gravest importance, and who will go to th c pol with a very defirrte idea of what to vote for. They may be denied the Referendum, but they will not forget to whom the denial is due when it comes to a matter of voting. We sincerely hope better things for New Zealand than the necessity for making Ibis an issue at the coming eleotion ; but when all e's=s fails, even that must be accepted as a lecoid of protest against the domination of the educational policy of this country by the jeaction aciionaries whose antagonism to the Bible in Schools sjstem takes the extreme and intolerable form of a negation of th rights of aitz'smbip.

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NOTES AMP VIEWS ON THE REFERENDUM PROPOSAL, Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIII, Issue 4416, 31 July 1914

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NOTES AMP VIEWS ON THE REFERENDUM PROPOSAL Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXIII, Issue 4416, 31 July 1914

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