Keep religion out of schools - Teen

By Laurel Stowell, laurel.stowell@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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Death threats from fellow teenagers have done nothing to prevent Wanganui's Brad Fisher voicing his opposition to the way Christianity is pushed in some state primary schools.

He's been involved in a Secular Education Network campaign for several months and had death threats in texts, emails and on his Facebook page - none had names attached.

"I replied to some of them, inviting them to come and talk to me. As soon as they realise I'm fully serious about this, they back away," he said.

He's not looking to fight anyone.

"I would rather have a meaningful conversation with someone. I've had a few conversations like that, which I have enjoyed," he said.

The Secular Education Network was set up by the NZ Association of Humanists and Rationalists. It's campaigning to either remove Christian Religious Education (formerly called Bible in Schools) from primary schools or make it factual and nonsectarian.

At 16, Brad, in Year 12 at Wanganui High School, is the youngest person in the network's campaign. He said he had always had a vital interest in religion, as had his grandfather and father, but his only church attendance happened when staying with friends.

At Wanganui's Durie Hill School he had an hour a week of what was then called Values in Schools, and remembered being given lollies and being scared by talk of nonbelievers suffering in hell.

"They dressed everything up as a fun activity. The kids never really thought of the Christian side but at the end of the lesson they tried to hammer it in with Christian stuff," Brad said.

He didn't think too much about it at the time, but after reading up, he decided he was an atheist and the Bible was a fairytale.

"There's a lot of inconsistencies and really horrible things in there ... It has no place in schools," Brad said.

He said he had lost a lot of friends but gained others through his stance, and was not afraid to voice it.

"I'm passionate about this, so I'm going for it. I like getting my opinion out," Brad said.

His stepfather thinks he is nuts while his mother is supportive.

When his pamphlets are printed he's looking forward to handing them out in Wanganui streets and talking to people.

From the CEC website: "It is appropriate in NZ to give particular emphasis to the Christian faith, the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus, because of their pervasive influence through our cultural heritage and history, and their continuing relevance."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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