Letters To The Editor, 22nd January, 2019

State versus Church Sue Cauty, Pacific Harbour The Methodist Church states that ‘the most fundamental of all human rights is freedom of religion, faith and practice’. This presumption is based
22 Jan 2019 09:59
Letters To The Editor, 22nd January, 2019
Letters to The Editor

State versus Church

Sue Cauty, Pacific Harbour

The Methodist Church states that ‘the most fundamental of all human rights is freedom of religion, faith and practice’. This presumption is based on the notion that the most basic of human freedom is the freedom of ‘belief’.

To the contrary, it can be argued that the most fundamental of all human rights is ‘the right to think’. This is why humanity promotes education, from which come journalism, research, and all forms of enquiry.

Our right to think is informed by investigation of the books, journals, newspapers, magazines and electronic media.

Children must learn, above all, to think for themselves – and the best of teachers will ensure that they, themselves, are fully informed of society’s numerous beliefs.

Children should be taught about these beliefs, while at the same time learning about non-belief.

Why should it be assumed that ‘belief’ is a non-negotiable right? Belief is not based upon fact or scientific research. Belief is ‘faith’ in an un-proven ideology.

Religious opinion claims that, ‘where religious freedom is violated, all other human rights are assaulted at their source’. This should be amended to ‘where the right to think is violated, all other human rights are assaulted at their source’.

Religious people insist on the ‘freedom to believe’ while insisting that children should receive a religious education from religious teachers who will reinforce the religious perspectives in their classes: and assume that a non-religious teacher of a certain belief will have no knowledge of other beliefs.

And some Christians advocate ‘creation science’, which, to many people is a contradiction in terms: but to others is a ‘belief’.

To inculcate or impose any belief into the brains of children is surely a form of child abuse – the mental abuse of a child.

By all means teach the exploration, investigation and intricacies of ‘belief’ to a child, but, at the same time, ensure that every child is aware of the fact that he/she has the right to make up their own mind about what to ‘believe’.

The ‘right to think’ is dependent upon the ability to think critically: above all, to question what we are told – which is becoming increasingly important in these days of so-called ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts.

The terms ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ merely underscore the true fact that far too many people today do not think for themselves – because they are not taught, and frequently not permitted, to think for themselves.

Unfortunately, the ‘special realities’ of particular (i.e. religious) schools referred to in the opinion are simply beliefs. But he is correct in concluding that all teachers should carry an equal workload: and there is no reason why they should or could not if they are, themselves, properly informed in the first place.

It is the teacher who requires the broadest of education and, above all, an enquiring mind: and it insults many of them to assert that they might…’pay lip service [to beliefs] or, worse still, stifle or even make fun of these religious activities’.

A good teacher is an impartial teacher, whatever their belief or non-belief.

Indeed, students do look up to their heads of school and teachers as role models – but why should that exclude uncertainty and doubt, which lead to critical thought and reasoning. Doubt is good – doubt can dispel ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts.

The Government is correct in its insistence on placing teachers according to merit. The point of the argument is that were religious believers truly secure in their doctrines they would have nothing to fear.


Religious Liberty

Amenatave Yaconisau, Delainavesi

Nemani Delaibatiki’s article on the above topic (FS 21/1) in this newspaper while logical is simply a Roman Catholic Church bashing including its Archbishop.

How better can you put a wedge between the Church and the parents of the denomination by removing religious liberties. In my time, Brother Clement who was a Roman Catholic was the principal of Marist Brothers and no such issues arose. Choices were always given to students who didn’t want religious studies. Why can’t we do the same to maintain religious liberty. Your analysis please!


Strengthening Ties

Pranil Ram, Votualevu, Nadi

The Australian Prime Minister’s visit to Fiji is a timely one, especially, at a  time when we are renewing ties with our neighbouring partners.

Australia’s role in the Pacific including Fiji is a significant one.

The support provided by the Australian Government in the areas of education, sports and many other areas is something to cherish.

This is a symbolic gesture of goodwill.

The Australian Prime Minister’s recent announcement of new initiatives is a positive one. It is anticipated that many policy related initiatives will also be announced in the near future.

This surely is a step up in our bilateral ties with Australia. Many times, we as a sovereign state have looked upon Australia to provide us with that level of support particularly in achieving our sustainable development goals. These are positive signs for all of us we hope that they continue to strengthen.



Jan Nissar, Carlton, NSW 2218

SODELPA have asked His Excellency the President to call Parliament so that the Australian Prime Minister can address it. The real reason – so that they can use the Australian PM as a platform to air their grievances.

I recall when the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy, India, came to address the Fiji Parliament the opposition members walked out or did not show up.  Racist, useless hypocrites and imbeciles. What more can I say?


Sugar Confectionary

Simon Hazelman, Savusavu

As I dropped my granddaughter off at school, I noticed two ladies stationed outside the primary school boundary yet in a prime spot where most kids would have to walk past to get to school, selling sweets first thing in the morning.

Primary school students were crowded around the sugar confectionary tables for their early morning fix before school even got started.

So much talk about non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and yet here we are, caring less about the health of our youngsters.

Here is exactly where it all starts with our children gaining a very unhealthy habit with sugary sweets. A sugar rush first thing in the morning will lead to them either having a hyper start or a sleepy one because sugar has such a reaction on the body.

I believe our school canteens are no better, selling the very things that we teach our children from home not to eat.

Here, we are as adults, as the hypocrites that we can so rightly be, thinking of our pockets rather than the health of our children!


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