A Creationist School in New Zealand

This is the tale of a strange school in New Zealand. We found it in the New Zealand Herald of Auckland. Their headline is No investigation into Gloriavale school. The newspaper doesn’t have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Segregated education at the secretive Gloriavale sect will not be investigated despite concerns for children’s rights, a select committee has decided. The Education Review Office was called before the Education and Science Select Committee today to explain why the extreme fundamentalist school was allowed to teach separate subjects for girls and boys, and stop education early.

Green MP Catherine Delahunty was hoping for an investigation into the isolated community’s school, saying it was breaching the rights of children to a broad education, however it was decided against.

Secretive sect? Isolated community? What kind of segregated subjects are they teaching? We’re told:

Students at the school run by secretive Christian community Gloriavale sit qualifications up to three years early so they can focus on a more “practical” education – including laundry-folding for girls.

What’s the problem? Laundry-folding is an essential skill for girls. Let’s read on:

Students do not progress past Year 11, and are not offered external exams. Science is based on creationism. No students in recent years had progressed to university. Instead, in their senior years, girls and boys are taught separate vocational subjects – females learn sewing, cooking, laundry and childcare while males learn carpentry, engineering and farming.

Sounds very practical. Their kids don’t need no fancy university education! Here’s more:

Following the committee meeting, Ms Delahunty said ERO [Education Review Office] had told the MPs all the children learned to read and write and the school was not breaking any laws. She said the other members of the select committee felt that going to the school was the parent’s choice and therefore there were no grounds for investigation. Ms Delahunty said she was extremely disappointed.

Hey — it’s the parent’s choice. Moving along:

“I feel these kids are alone. You can argue that it’s a parent’s right to choice but what about the rights of the child,” she said. “Yes they learn to read and write but what about a broad curriculum that allows those children to have a choice in the world, to encourage critical thinking?” She said while the letter of the law was being followed, the spirit that children should get a broad education was not, and the girls were being disadvantaged.

Ms Delahunty is meddling where she’s not wanted. Another excerpt:

When issues of human rights were raised previously, principal of the 164-child school Faithful Pilgrim said it was “sheer nonsense”. “Our aim is prepare our own students from our community for a life of practical service, a life of faith within the community,” he told the Herald. “We’re not preparing our students for a life in your society, we are preparing them for a life in our society. Otherwise it wouldn’t be sensible, would it?”

It makes perfect sense for those folks. Wikipedia has an article on the Gloriavale Christian Community. It almost sounds like Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple. The newspaper’s last paragraph is also interesting:

Gloriavale has come under scrutiny after allegations of inappropriate relationships between children and adults and harsh punishments for children. The church’s leader, Neville Cooper, was convicted in 1994 for indecent assault on young women, serving 11 months in prison.

The Wikipedia article said it was five years, but that’s not important. What really counts is the quality of the school, and it seems to be just what those folks want. So everything’s fine in New Zealand.

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9 responses to “A Creationist School in New Zealand

  1. “Gloriavale Christian Community is a small Christian group based at Haupiri on the West Coast of the South Island in New Zealand. They were founded in the 1960s by Neville Cooper (Hopeful Christian), who in 1994 was jailed for 5 years for indecent assault upon several young girls and women.”
    Fantastic. Just what New Zealand needs.

  2. michaelfugate

    I remember some years back a creationist medical doctor was running for a local school board and he opined that no parent wants children who are smarter than he or she is. Given that intelligence is in part out of the parent’s control, what he really meant was he wanted a la Cedarville “sacrificial male leadership” where his children were more ignorant than he was. I wonder what it is like to be that authoritarian, but I pity the poor children in both cases.

  3. Dave Luckett

    The sentence would have been five years. He would have got parole, given maximum remissions, after only eleven months, probably with further conditions such as community service. I know that in the US much longer actual jail time is standard.

    The pattern hardly ever varies. This sect fits on a continuum. It starts with an authoritarian domineering leader promoted as Messiah, and the rest follows. The message is always guilt, submission and degradation, loss of self, cession of all personal responsibility, and retribution. On the far end of that spectrum lie Heaven’s Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, Jonestown, Waco and the Manson “family”. Practically invariably, the leader uses some set of followers to indulge his (and only very rarely, her) sexual tastes, and as rewards to a few of the inner cadre.

    This pattern is so distinct and so identifiable that it is astonishing that it repeats itself over and over, time and time again. But it does. “Those who are ignorant of history…”

    You know the rest.

  4. Perhaps Dawkins is right after all – creationism is child abuse.

  5. Religious cults and sexual assaults just seem to go hand in hand. It’s all about older dominant males controlling the eggs and sperm of the younger members of the congregation and little to do with actual spirituality. Even the mainstream religions have had their start in this sordid truth.

  6. Bert Younger: “Even the mainstream religions have had their start in this sordid truth.”

    For examples, pedophile priests, equating sex with sin, and cameras in restrooms?

  7. Ya got to love a school where the highest skill for girls is clothes folding!!!!

  8. Holding the Line in Florida

    Sounds like a strong curriculum! Perhaps we should adopt it down here in FL! We need more rigor!

  9. @L.Long: Hey, now, enough of that mockery! You ever try folding a contour sheet?