Participation in ANU Religious Conference

By: Surinder Jain.

Australian National University had organized a three day conference on “Religion in Modern Education : Conflict, Policy and Practice” on 13th to 15th April 2023 in its campus in Canberra, Australia. The conference invited scholars to consider the immediate and enduring impacts that the value, consideration, accessibility, and format of religious education may have on religious practices, on public spheres of activity, and on the relationship between religion and society.

From left to right : Surinder Jain, Murray Norman and Rosita Soryte

A parallel session was held on “Politics and Religious Education” chaired by Rosita Soryte from European Federation for Freedom of Belief. A paper on “Creating Political Awareness to counter Religious vilification in NSW Government Schools” was presented by Murray Norman from Alphacrucis University College, Sydney. The paper explained the effort being made by faith communities to come together to fight Religious Vilification.

This was followed by a panel exploring actual case studies. The panel included Surinder Jain from Hindu Council of Australia and Darren Bark from NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Surinder Jain presented two case studies. First about the acceptance of a religious article (a nose stud) where in Hindu community and a school had to fight it out in the media. The matter was resolved but the process was inefficient and painful for everyone involved.

Surinder then presented a second case study about creating a new law to ban Nazi hate symbols but exempt Sacred Swastika used as a religious icon.  The second case study illustrated how even the most difficult issues can be solved through mutual trust with best possible outcome for everyone involved. This was followed by a Question and Answer session from the audience.

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