Government officials in the Australian state of Queensland have introduced a policy that would ban Christmas cards, references to Jesus, and anything that could be classified as “evangelization” from public schools, the Daily Mail Australia reported.
A recent Department of Education report voices concerns that unbridled freedom of religion has led to non-religious children being “forced” to entertain the Christian beliefs of their peers.
According to these officials, schools are expected “to take appropriate action” if they find that students who receive “religious instruction” are evangelizing to those who do not. “Evangelization” covers a range of speech and actions, including distributing Christmas cards with photos or words referencing Jesus’ birth and life, making religious-themed ornaments, and handing out bracelets to share “the good news about Jesus.”
If such evangelization is left unchecked, the report claims that it could “adversely affect the school’s ability to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive environment.”
According to the Daily Mail, the recent initiative comes after Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones promised to crack down on religious practices. The report has received negative reactions from religious freedom advocates and political leaders who fear Jones has gone too far.
Speaking to The Australian, Neil Foster, a religion and law professor, called the Department of Education’s requests “deeply concerning” and “possibly illegal.”
Centre for Independent Studies research fellow Peter Kurti said the report constitutes a “massive assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion” and believes that the government’s concerns are completely unwarranted.
“I don’t think that children have the maturity to comprehend let alone evangelize,” he told The Australian.
The United States punished Iran on Friday for it launch this week of a satellite-carrying rocket into space by hitting six Iranian entities with sanctions targeting the country’s ballistic missiles program.
The sanctions hit six Iranian subsidiaries of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, described by the Treasury Department as “central” to Iran’s ballistic missiles program. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin cast the sanctions as part of an ongoing US effort to aggressively oppose Iran’s ballistic missile activity, including what he called a “provocative space launch” carried out by the Islamic Republic on Thursday.
“These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and underscore the United States’ deep concerns with Iran’s continued development and testing of ballistic missiles and other provocative behavior,” Mnuchin said.
Despite the fact it carried a satellite into space, the US has argued the launch was tantamount to a ballistic missile launch because that type of long-range missile technology is inherently designed to be able to carry a nuclear payload. To that end, the State Department has said the launch violated the spirit of the nuclear deal and also flouted a UN Security Council resolution that calls on Iran not to conduct such tests