Religious education under review in Queensland schools after proselytising claims

The Queensland government will review religious education in state schools after claims a popular program was “soliciting” students to become Christian.

Matthew Keong, the principal of Windsor state school, wrote a letter to parents last week, suspending the long-standing Connect syllabus at his school.

Keong said the program “contravenes policy that prohibits proselytising”.

“Connect’s lesson materials go beyond imparting knowledge of Biblical references, and extend to soliciting children to develop a personal faith in God and Jesus to become a Christian or ‘Kingdom Kid’,” he wrote.

“The whole program appears to be based on that premise of trying to solicit them for a decision to become the kind of Christian prescribed in the materials.”

The Queensland education minister, Kate Jones, said on Tuesday the education department was reviewing the material.

“I am concerned content outside the guidelines of this long-standing policy may currently be being provided in state schools,” she said.

“Any materials found to be in breach of the policy will be removed from schools.”

In the letter, Keong says he will review religious instruction programs to make sure they comply with legislation before they return to the school.

Scripture Union, which supports chaplains in two-thirds of Queensland state schools, applauded the education department for its religious instruction policy and admitted the non-proselytising requirement was an important part of that policy.

“Children and young people should never be coerced or manipulated about their beliefs,” said the Scripture Union Queensland chief executive, Peter James. “But they should be free to explore belief if they chose to.”

James said the religious instruction program was about parental choice.

“Thousands of parents have chosen for their children to participate in this voluntary program and we think that choice should be maintained and respected,” he said.