Melbourne Anglicans reject multi-faith religious education in schools.

MELBOURNE Anglicans have rejected a call to introduce a multi-faith general religious education into all Victorian state schools, in a move described as a return to sectarianism.

Melbourne historian Peter Sherlock, who seconded the proposal, said Friday night's vote at the Melbourne synod was ''a stunning reversal of 140 years of campaigning for religious education in schools'' and a return to 19th century sectarianism.

Supporters of the embattled religious education provider Access Ministries saw the vote as vindication, with Access chairman Bishop Stephen Hale saying to support the call would have endorsed what he called a campaign carried out by The Age.

The synod rejected, by 204 votes to 167, a proposal to ask the state Education Minister to develop a separate program of multi-faith and general religious education that could operate alongside the voluntary special religious instruction program. It passed without debate a motion commending Access and thanking volunteers.

Access provides 96 per cent of the volunteers and a third of those are Anglicans. But it has come under fire over claims that some volunteers try to convert children, because children attend unless parents ask to opt out, and because children who opt out are not given meaningful activities.

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