Bethlehem College Snuck the Marriage Thing In
They've been told to remove it by the Ministry of Education, but they still haven't: violating their very specific Charter Agreement
I noticed something interesting while reading through the “Deed of Integration” between Bethlehem College and the Ministry of Education.
I’ve uploaded the deed here, if you want to see it yourself.
In a nutshell, before 1999, Bethlehem College was a fully private Christian school. They marched to the beat of their own drum.
But in 1999 they integrated — which basically meant they started getting access to money from the New Zealand government:
State-integrated schools are former private schools that have become part of the state system. They receive some government funding to maintain and modernise the integrated school buildings.
In order to qualify to receive taxpayer’s money, the terms of that agreement were very specific — including the exact wording of that “Statement of Belief” that I wrote about yesterday. The things parents had to sign.
What’s been creating so much angst is Point 13 in that Statement of Belief — this thing:
It’s a very specific and jarring thing in the agreement. One second your talking about education…. the next you’re talking about God-approved versions of sex.
The statement was called out by The Herald earlier in the week, and Stuff reported on the feral antics that followed — including alleged chants from some students of “Kill the gays”:
A group of students at Bethlehem College, a state-integrated Christian school, were taking part in the international Day of Silence against bullying when they were targeted by a number of opposing students from the same college.
The abuse allegedly included chants of “kill the gays”, and students attending the event said that their phones had been confiscated so that they could not record video footage.
All this got me thinking about how odd it was that Point 13 had made it into a list sanctioned by the Ministry of Education.
It was in direct opposition to what the actual law said in New Zealand (since the Marriage Amendment Act happened), and wasn’t exactly screaming inclusivity for all students. To be a member of the LGBTQI+ community while attending BC — by all accounts — sucks.
But when I looked at the original deed, I found something quite surprising: In the actual agreement between Bethlehem College and the Ministry of Education in regards to that “Statement of Belief”… there was no point 13.
It stopped at 12, in some quasi-Zionist text that we’ll get to on another day.
At some point… Bethlehem College had added in the “marriage is the only form of partnership approved by God for sexual relations” bit.
According to Archive.org, point 13 didn’t exist on BC’s Christian Education Trust website in January of 2019 — then boom, it appears by October 22, 2019.
I emailed the Ministry of Education to see what the hell Bethlehem College was playing at.
They replied pretty quickly with a statement, attributed to Jocelyn Mikaere, Hautū (Leader) Te Tai Whenua (Central):
“We are committed to supporting schools and kura to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment that promotes student wellbeing and positive outcomes.
Last month we met with the Bethlehem College Principal, the BOT Presiding Member, and the Deputy Chair of the Christian Education Trust and advised that Point 13 of the Statement of Belief must be removed.
It is an additional statement that was not included in the Bethlehem College Integration Agreement entered into with the Minister of Education in 1999.”
So — essentially BC has been told that all that marriage stuff has to be removed.
Otherwise — from what I understand — they’re violating their Charter Agreement. That thing that keeps them getting taxpayer money.
I’d note that as of time of writing — the Statement of Belief on the Bethlehem College remains unchanged, BC appearing to be engaged in a game of spiritual chicken with the Ministry of Education.
What naughty evangelicals.
I went back back to the Ministry of Education to get their take.
“We are actively seeking a response from both Boards, which we understand are meeting this month.
Any amendments to the Statement of Belief are required to go through due process, and until that has occurred point 13 cannot be included.
If the school does not remove Point 13 the Ministry can consider a formal intervention.”
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I went to BC in the early 2000’s. I too was questioning my sexuality. I had feelings of same sex attraction to women and I lived in absolute fear that I was a lesbian and all encompassing self loathing. At times I was suicidal.
I distinctly remember absolutely abhorrent homophobic lectures by teachers disguised as biblical teachings. I asked if we are all sinners and equal in the eyes of the lord why such vitriol towards gay people? Why is the school against gay people taking leadership positions in the church? The response was that gay people were worse than sinners - amoral and disgusting.
I remember one form teacher proudly stating that his pharmacist wife refused to sell the morning after pill, because it was amoral and equating it to abortion. Sex Ed was essentially shaming young women about their bodies and their sexuality.
During the time I was at BC the decriminalisation of prostitution was going through parliament. My form teacher regularly used to lecture us about how horrific he thought the bill was, blind to any harm prevention to sex workers.
I was raised in a religious home by a mother who respected queer people, women and sex workers. My mother had gay friends who used to visit regularly. After much thought, I came to the conclusion that Jesus would have also been inclusive and respectful of queer people etc.. This led me to questioning the school’s approach. I was regularly given detentions for asking these questions as I was seen as being disrespectful or disruptive. It was eventually suggested by the school that I complete my schooling elsewhere and I left BC for a fantastic public school which helped heal the damage BC created. I am no longer religious but do respect inclusive christians.
It sucks that we’re no longer shocked and surprised when this absolutely cooked tomfuckery happens.