The Religious Education Board Game

With the National School Chaplaincy Program, under threat from constitutional High Court challenges, there is a real concern that $244 million dollars of Commonwealth funding may now instead be used for trained teachers who know the difference between fairy stories and education. With this in mind, I found this work of art in my six-year-old’s school bag at the end of a day that must have featured religious education.

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It’s instantly obvious why they wanted the extra $250M. This handout is hand-drawn, clag-ridden, shoddily photocopied and someone has walked on it. I’m almost positive that even my 1979 Sunday School teacher would be horrified with such an amateur effort. Also, if transported 35 years into the future, she would be bitterly disappointed that a holographic version of Jesus wasn’t in routine use. She was a huge Star Wars fan.

I must admit at this point, and I know it’s not a popular view, that I’m not particularly against the odd session of religious education. I find it greatly assists my children’s appreciation of Life of Brian. And every parent knows that the educational alternative for those denied religious education is “an hour playing games on the iPad”. So I was tempted to post the pic with a simple tweet. Something like: “Religious education is baffling” would probably sum it up. But I think it deserves so much more. Whoever thought up this religious board game concept was truly inspired.

This game is a race to see who can make it to the crucifixion first, with a cheery gravesite and prostitutes lurking at the finish line. In case you needed any more encouragement to go for the win, some dead bodies that you won’t remember from the Bible await you outside the tomb. (No, look again. They’re clearly not asleep.) You have been crucified. Miss three turns before rising from the dead.

As a Sunday School survivor, I thought I knew my bible stories pretty well – the top 10 anyway. But I can’t remember the one in which Mary* offers fruit to her friend who should have gone home hours ago because it’s way past her bedtime. Anyone?

I guess I should be relieved the school chaplain is not trying to teach my son to count – because they’re obviously not qualified teachers. You can see this by the way the instructor has numbered the squares. Nope, no way my son did that. Because if he was really that bad at counting, surely he’d get an extra hour of numeracy rather than religion? Right?

Just when you were thinking this was a genuine retro ’70s recreation, we land on a square that harks back to road safety in the ’50s. Looking for a chance to jump ahead in the game? Bonus points for putting your sibling in the most dangerous spot in the car whilst appearing kindhearted and thoughtful. Finally a biblical idiom I can recognise. Act as wolf in sheep’s clothing – advance 11 squares.

This board game truly annoys me. Mainly because the other half of it (that is missing) no doubt contains additional delights that I’ll never enjoy. The UFO for example. And the square with the bonus: “Throw a six and you don’t have to wear a seatbelt.”

Imagine how many sophisticated, hand-drawn board games we could have made out of $250M? And tragically our kids will never see that holodeck version of hell now. But never fear – Tony Abbott says he still wants the School Chaplaincy Program to continue. Hope he’s got his pink paper and crayons ready.

*they’re all called Mary

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