SCHOOLS' DEFENCE LEAGUE
At the last, meeting of the executive of the above (Mr A. R. Atkinson presiding) the .subjoined report was adopted:— In reference to the decision of the J3iMe-in-Schools League to mn tin up theiy campaign, ihis committee regret that the /h'fo/e-iii-So.hoo/s League are nob prepared to accept a voluntary system of Hiblo-in-sohools. such as the Nelson system—a scheme recommended by the Education Committee of the House of Representatives, acceptable to the great mass of the people ami to an overwhelming; majority of tho parliamentary representatives of the people—but seem bent on raising the. sectarian issue at the election with .■* view to having; the league's issue, and no other, submitted to a. plebiscite. The National Schools Defenco League desire to impress tho following points on tho public mind : It was the Hible-in-Schools League that caused this question to be brought before Parliament, but ns the decision is against thorn they are not propm-ed to accept tho judgment of the tribunal they invoked. Before the Education Committee the Bibie-in-Sohools League were allowed as many witnesses as all the other parties combined, notwithstanding the fact that those parties represented tons of thousands or petitioners, while the peitioncrs tor the Biblc-in-sebools proposals numbered barely one thousand. The witnesses called by the Bib|c-in-ScKools League wore all clergymen and all comparatively recent arrivals in this country. Tho leaguo did not call one lay witness, ono school teacher, one educationist, or any person really familiar with New Zealand conditions. 'fhc regulations in ~Scw South Wales make it clear that- no conscientious teacher can, without the permission of tho department, express an opinion on the education system there. The crossexamination of" tho league's witnesses plainly showed the small value to bo attached to the "testimonials" so widely distributed by the Bible-in-Schools League. Parliament has approved of the addition of a voluntary system (suuh as the Nelson system) of Bible-in-schools to our present system of free, suculnr, and compulsory education. Evidence before the Education Committee clearly proved this voluntary system to bo in effective and popular use in many parts of the Dominion. This system would not set up in the schools a State religion acceptable to only some denominations, would cause injustice to no denomination, anil would impose no religious test on teachers. The extent to which the Biblo-in-Schools League are prepared to trust the. people is shown by their demands (a) that they, and they alone, shall frame the issue; <lri that thoir issue, ami it aloiu>, shall ho put before the people; (c) that the issue shall bo twofold, so that many people cannot vote for What thoy want without at tin* same timo voting for what they don't want: (d) that- no net-son or body of persons—not even Parliament, itself—shall have the right to modify the ballot paper tho league have drawn up. If tho Biblo-in-Schools League insist on carrying their sectarian banner into the election, on their heads will lie the blame. The league should remember that- as n result of the parliamentary inquiry their proposed scheme stands condemned, and the issues now arc: Are the people in favor of a fair voluntary system or of tho unjust scheme advocated by the league? And shall the teachers—State officials—be compelled (without a conscience clause) to give religious teaching that is the proper work of the clergy ?
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SCHOOLS' DEFENCE LEAGUE, Evening Star, Issue 15653, 18 November 1914
SCHOOLS' DEFENCE LEAGUE Evening Star, Issue 15653, 18 November 1914
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