Education and The Law: A Wake-Up Call
1st February 2018
Sunday 28 January teachers, parents, and church members gathered at the Advent Centre in London for a seminar entitled Education and the Law: Challenges Facing Schools in a Secular Society, How to be Wise Yet Harmless. This informative and very well delivered event was organised by the South England Conference (SEC) Education department. Hearts were steered as the two main speakers spoke through the eyes of God's law and the law of the land. This is in view of the upcoming government proposal to teach children as young as 5 years of age the new proposed relationships and sex education. The government has opened this to public consultation and the last day for which the nation are to respond is 12 February 2018. The immediate response of the audience after this event was, "this is a wake-up call!"
The issues at hand are the government's plans to have sex education compulsory in all schools in England. Primary school children will also get education on safe and healthy relationships and children will also be taught about transgender and same-sex relationships. This is derived from the government's stance to promote British values, in this case sexual orientation. Other British values include tolerance of different faiths and beliefs, democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect.
Beginning with a devotional, SEC President Dr Emmanuel Osei read from Mark 8: 24-25, where Jesus healed a blind man twice. With Jesus' first touch, the man could only see people as walking trees, but the second touch restored his vision totally. Dr Osei said, "we too have a blurred vision, today we need the touch of Jesus, so our vision can be clear."
The guest speaker Roger Kiska, a legal counsel at the Christian Legal Centre in London, with an extensive experience before the European Court of Human Rights brought good news to the audience. First through the encouragement found in his favourite scripture Deuteronomy 31:6, "to have courage and not be afraid" and then through his knowledge of the law pertaining to the dilemmas parents and teachers find themselves in, within the secular school systems. He said parents have a right to remove their children from the classes which they feel are inappropriate for their children, and teachers also have a right not to teach sexual relationship classes.
Kiska and his organisation deems teaching sex education to young children as inappropriate. He added that deciding to teach the children is what is inappropriate. He also informed the audience of what other ministries of education in Europe are teaching. An example was that in Belgium, primary school children are taught to name the different variety of sexual positions, whilst the class teacher uses Gummy Bears to demonstrate those positions. The World Health Organisation has some curriculum teaching children as young as 4 years old sexual education. Therefore "we cannot guarantee what will be deemed as appropriate by our government's new sex education proposal to be taught to our youngest children", Kiska said.
Pastor Kavaloh, retired Seventh-day Adventist pastor and director of the AdventReligio – Legal Perspective Ministry highlighted how vital it is for every member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to respond to the consultation. "It must not be business as usual, we must, as in 1 Peter 3:15, 'but in your hearts revere Christ as Lord, always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.'"
Pastor Kavaloh continued that not all British values are at fault. Therefore, fundamental British values like democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs are to be embraced. However, "when fundamental British values contradict with fundamental biblical principles in public life, my liberty of conscience dictates that the later takes precedence", said Pastor Kavaloh.
"I really liked how Pastor Kavaloh taught on this subject and even used the backing of Bible texts," said one attendee, "he showed that Religious Liberty is not a religious licence to provoke anyone. One can be assertive without being aggressive." Pastor Kavaloh ended with Matthew 10:16, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."
There was also time for testimonies, sharing the difficult times that teachers have had, but also how God has come through for them. SEC Education director and Head Teacher of Hyland House School, Gina Abbequaye who organised the event said she and her team will continue to support teachers and parents in this area. She furthermore urged everyone to go back to their churches and encourage each member and also young person (16-19 years) to fill in the consultation.
The event ended with a season of prayer. Dr Osei asked the individuals who thought their situation was critical, to stand up for prayer. He prayed for them and also for everyone a prayer that felt so full of the power of the Holy Ghost.
[Judith Makaniankhondo Nyirenda]