Crossroads: On your bike

Gunnedah Anglican minister Scott Dunlop will participate in the Sundowner Cycling Race for the tenth time on Saturday.
Gunnedah Anglican minister Scott Dunlop will participate in the Sundowner Cycling Race for the tenth time on Saturday.

This Saturday for the tenth time, I’m getting on my bike and riding 100 kilometres from Coonabarabran to Gunnedah in the annual Cycling NSW Keegan Downes Memorial Sundowner Handicap Cycling Classic race. However, I don’t plan on getting on my bike and riding away from Christianity.

Listen to some reports and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Australians were a completely secular bunch that have hopped on their bikes and turned away from religion and Christian values, but the opposite is true when you look at the statistics.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2016 data, revealed that only a small minority in Gunnedah community –  just 20 per cent – claim to have no religion. Also according to new independent research recently released by McCrindle Research, ‘Survey of values, education and faith in Australia’, revealed that almost 99 per cent of people believe it is important to teach values to Australian school students.

Importantly, 84 per cent believe that Christian heritage has been influential in shaping the values that we teach children, and more than half of Australians (53 per cent) believe Jesus’ life is extremely or very important to the history and culture of the world. The research also showed that parents overwhelmingly want the choice of faith-based values education, with only 16 per cent of those surveyed opposed.

Spokesperson for Christian Special Religious Education (SRE or scripture) in NSW schools, Murray Norman, said “the survey figures represent majority Australian thinking and endorse the importance of spirituality and programs like SRE within education”. 

“The overwhelming majority of parents want the choice of faith-based values to be taught to children, which is exactly what SRE does,” he said. 

“We are aware of a minority voice that seeks to remove any form of spirituality and faith from schools, and remove the choice parents currently have, but that’s out of step with the values and wishes of Australian parents.”

A noisy minority might be telling people to hop on your bike and ride away from Christianity, but for me, even though I’m a competitor in Saturday’s Sundowner race, rest assured I’m not getting on my bike and riding away from Christianity, or a personal faith in Jesus.

Christianity has survived this long for a reason, despite the fact that there have been plenty of times in history when it has come under attack because after all, what’s true doesn’t change according to popular opinion.