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. . . students must pass the compulsory core subjects which are mathematics, literature, Hebrew and English languages, history, state studies and, you guessed it Bible or scripture.
Recently Israel Today, Israel’s largest circulation newspaper, reported on a new Knesset (parliamentary) Bible study. It said that it consisted of members ranging from ultra-Orthodox through to secular backgrounds and that there “is a growing sense in Israel that the Bible needs to form the basis of the state’s culture and policies.”
While the report noted that the “ultra-Orthodox must not have a monopoly on the biblical interpretation of what it means to be Jewish”, nevertheless, it illustrates the Bible’s place in modern Israel. It is hard to believe such sentiments, or that such a group might operate in a State or Federal parliament in Australia. In fact, secular parliamentarians would do all they could to not only avoid such a group but would most likely ridicule it.
This contrast between Australia and Israel was a revelation to many students on the tour. It helped them see that there is an alternative to the highly publicised push for a more secular Australian society. It helped them begin to appreciate how the vast majority of the earth’s seven billion inhabitants embrace a religious worldview, whether they are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or some other religion. On a global perspective the Australian secularist’s worldview is a minority rather than a majority position.
“On a global perspective the Australian secularist’s worldview is a minority rather than a majority position.
The focus of our study tour was to help us appreciate the culture in which Jesus lived while on earth. However, it did more than that. It also gave insights into contemporary Australian culture. While we were pleased to set our feet again on Australian soil and thank God for such a wonderful country, we returned with new confidence in our faith.
Despite the fact many in Australia want to relegate religion to the margins of society, the reality is that this need not happen and there are many in the world that agree with us. So despite what some may say, we understood afresh how the Bible is not irrelevant to Australian life.
Stephen L Baxter
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