Nov 3, 2015

Controversial US academic likens religious education in schools to child abuse

KATE AUBUSSON
stuff.co.nz
November 3, 2015


Paul Ehrlich told Australia's Q&A programme that teaching children about "supernatural monsters" is akin to child abuse.
Paul Ehrlich
Video

A US academic has strayed into a minefield by suggesting religious education and child abuse are one and the same.

Biology and global population researcher Dr Paul Ehrlich appeared on Australia's Q&A programme, where he said schoolchildren shouldn't be taught about "supernatural monsters".

His comments were triggered by the panel's discussion of a Melbourne school principal's decision to excuse a Shiite Muslim students from singing the Australian national anthem if they were observing Muharram, a month of mourning in which Shiites do not participate in joyful events, including singing.

Paul Ehrlich told Australia's Q&A programme that teaching children about "supernatural monsters" is akin to child abuse.

Q&A

Paul Ehrlich told Australia's Q&A programme that teaching children about "supernatural monsters" is akin to child abuse.

Host Tony Jones had asked Ehrlich whether he sang the US national anthem when he was at school.

"We did, but we didn't have child abuse required in those days, we didn't have any religious instructions in the schools," the Stanford University professor replied.

"Did you just say religious instruction is child abuse?" Jones asked the outspoken panellist.

"That's what Richard Dawkins and lots of other people have said, that you teach people details about non-existent supernatural monsters and then behave in reaction to what you think they are telling you," Ehrlich said.

"That's child abuse. You don't raise your kids that way," he said, adding the qualifier: "I don't want to be outrageous".

Then, hot on the heels of calling the gods of devout religious followers "supernatural monsters", he urged the Q&A audience to be respectful of religious differences.

"We are a very social animal we've got to learn to live in groups of millions and billions, which means ... you've got to give some space for other people, or you will be in a constant war and so it's something that we ought to be discussing all the time," he said.

"Other people are going to have different views," said Ehrlich.

Ehrlich is no stranger to making controversial remarks: in June, he warned Earth is on the brink of mass extinction - nearly 50 years since his first such warning failed to come to fruition.  - Sydney Morning Herald

http://i.stuff.co.nz/world/australia/73621365/Controversial-US-academic-likens-religious-education-in-schools-to-child-abuse
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