As a faith-based community, Illawarra Christian School provides a distinct alternative educational choice to parents in the Illawarra. With 650 students aged from 3–18, we have an outstanding academic record, producing results above national standards. Our school is well known in our region for providing a nurturing and caring environment for our staff, students and parents.
Our staff are all committed Christians who hold a reformed theological perspective consistent with the school’s educational creed. As Christians we believe our faith should underpin and impact every aspect of life. Only when staff have genuine Christian faith and are driven by these convictions can they teach, manage student behaviour and pastorally care for those within the school community from a distinctive Christian worldview. Our staff are responsible for building the culture of our school and this culture is thoroughly Christian—obviously our staff must be thoroughly Christian themselves in order to do this.
What is the federal government seeking to do?
The federal government is considering legislation that may remove legal exemptions allowing schools like ours to operate according to our religious convictions. The majority of parents who choose Illawarra Christian School are committed Christians who want the values, beliefs and faith they teach at home to be reinforced and nurtured at school. Non-Christian families also choose to enrol their children at Illawarra Christian School because they value the education, community and culture our school provides. This new legislation may significantly limit the choices available to parents when choosing the right school for their child.
Why does it matter to us anyway?
Our school is a faith-based community that needs to be able to manage the employment of our staff, expectations of student behaviour and school culture in a manner consistent with our understanding of the Bible. This is the main distinctive characteristic which sets us apart from other schools around us. We seek to do this in a way that upholds biblical truth and demonstrates grace.
Recently issues of sexual preference and gender expression have been hotly debated around the world. Our school community does include students and parents who may hold different views on these matters. It has been my experience in our school that members of our community are loved, cared for and nurtured regardless of their views on these issues, or indeed any of the myriad issues about the world and human behaviour which the Bible addresses. When dealing with students on any matter we talk about upholding biblical truth, but demonstrating and leading with grace. We seek to be compassionate and understanding, loving and supporting our students the very best we can, while not compromising what we believe the Bible to say on anything.
The parents of Australia need more educational options for their children, not less. If we want to be a truly diverse society, with all the benefits which that diversity will bring, we must truly respect and tolerate different points of view, and we must provide for those points of view in our lawmaking and in our educational system. Parents ought to be able to choose for their children the kind of education which reinforces their family’s deeply-held beliefs.
Please pray for our federal members of parliament as they debate this matter over the coming weeks. Pray that our religious freedom as a school is preserved and that we would faithfully uphold God’s word and demonstrate grace toward one another.