“It has taken the faiths thousands of years, the persecutions of millions of their followers, the creation of some of the most beautiful literature, art and music in the world, to have their beliefs and traditions so accepted as a part of our society that now, in New South Wales, faiths from Islam to Christianity to Judaism are allowed to go into public schools and give up to an hour of special religious instruction – except it’s usually 30 minutes – once a week.

It has taken one man with a somewhat laidback attitude to ethics –“non-judgemental” – just seven years to be on the verge of getting his brand of ethical instruction into schools, to be taught at the same time as SRE.”

So writes journalist Shelley Gare in a recent post on her blog for the Sydney Institute. It’s an insightful piece where Shelley raises a number of pertinent questions about the ethics classes which the NSW Government has this week announced will be rolled out to primary schools across the State from the start of next year.

The questions include: Where’s the funding coming from? What will be done about the moral relativism which has already surfaced in the trial classes? And what will happen when other ethics providers start claiming their right to teach their versions of ethics in classrooms.

Thankfully, the NSW Opposition yesterday announced that they would scrap the St James Ethics Centre’s secular ethics classes if they win the March 2011 state election. Nonetheless, the Government’s plan is still to get the classes underway prior to the election. Shelley’s blog post, which can be read by clicking here, makes the point: “Can’t we just have ethics classes taught by properly trained teachers in school time?”