Article from Geelong Advertiser, Wednesday December 16 2015:
Religious Xmas songs could be banned at schools, claims Andrew Katos.
Christmas carols with a religious theme are under threat in schools due to new government rules, South Barwon MP Andrew Katos claims. Old favourites such as Silent Night, Come All Ye Faithful and Away in a Manger will be banned in Geelong region schools, the Liberal MP said, as part of the Andrews Government’s changes to religious education. However, Education Minister James Merlino has labelled the carol ban “misinformation” and an attempt by the Coalition to divide the community.
Mr Katos said the State Government had used “tricky” language over the rules governing Christmas carols and was trying to cover up a secular push within the Education Department. “The Government is trying to implement nonsensical rules over Christmas carols because it fits in with their secular agenda,” the South Barwon MP said. “Christmas carols with a religious theme such as Silent Night and Away in a Manger would not be allowed to be sung in state schools across Geelong under these rules. “Of course, the Government will say that they’re not trying to ban carols and they can be sung outside school times and so on, but they know that’s not going to happen in practice.”
The carols controversy emanates from new Special Religious Instruction guidelines which were circulated to school principals last month. The fact sheets distributed by the Education Department defines “praise music” as SRI material that cannot be hosted during class time and Christmas carols as non- SRI. Mr Merlino said the SRI delivery changes, to be implemented next year, did not block schools from singing carols in the classroom. “The Coalition is deliberately pushing misinformation and creating unnecessary angst within the community,” Mr Merlino said.
“Traditional Christmas carols have been and will continue to be sung at Victorian Government schools, along with other activities, such as colourful celebrations during Diwali and candle lighting during Hanukkah.” The new SRI rules released last month mean religious classes must either happen before or after school hours or during lunch breaks.