Australian Christian school accused of sickening bigotry

Children in an Australia Christian school have been asked whether homosexuality is “the sickest sin” in a school assignment. The homework given to 14 and 15-year-olds at Armadale Christian College, also points them to bible quotes describing homosexuality as an “abomination”, and describes “coming out of the closet” as “open sinning”.

Inquiries by The Australian Sunday Times have prompted Education Minister Liz Constable to order staff from the Department of Education Services to go to the school to ensure it was “satisfying registration requirements”. “(This is) to assess the lesson content being used by the school in relation to their Religion and Life syllabus,” Dr Constable said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Stephen Lee, chief executive officer of Swan Christian Education Association, which encompasses the Armadale school, said his association would “review the use of this material” and teaching materials used at other SCEA schools, following questions from The Sunday Times.

One question in the assignment given to the Year 10 students in June was: “Is homosexuality the sickest sin there is?” Another question asked what God said about homosexuality and pointed to Bible quotes for the answer, which called it an “abomination”.

The assignment also stated that homosexuality was a “compromise for the need to be loved and accepted”, resulting for many from “low self-esteem (and) gender emptiness”. Also on the assignment was: “Many people say that homosexuality is an inborn trait. Is a person born greedy, jealous, malicious, gossiper, slanderer, thief, child abuser, serial killer?”

Relatives of children in the Year 10 class expressed “disgust” about what they called “bigotry” in the assignment, which under its heading “Homosexuality”, had the biblical quote: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? … Neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites”.

Dani Wright, coordinator of youth support service Freedom Centre, said discrimination through such teaching could lead to mental health issues and even suicide. She said blanket policies were needed about homophobia in schools because, while the WA Equal Opportunity Act did not allow sexual-orientation discrimination, there were “loopholes” for religious institutions.

One student’s relative, James Notman, praised the Minister’s quick action on the matter, and said such “extremist” teachings could “seriously damage the mental well-being” of some children at a time of life when questions of sexuality were of huge importance.

“I also went to a Christian private school, but what we were taught about homosexuality was that we should all love and accept everyone as the same, because it doesn’t matter whether you’re gay, straight, male, female, we’re all humans and we’re all equal,” he said.

Mr Lee said the assignment was used to “facilitate discussion on Christian views” as part of a lesson within the WA Curriculum Council course Religion and Life. He said the section which had the question that asked about the “sickest sin”, identified “numerous” views on homosexuality, including that it was an illness, in context of views that it may be genetic, an inborn trait or a lifestyle choice. Mr Lee said that the school was not teaching any of these view points, but was “facilitating discussion on common views in society”.

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