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Withdraw Tax Money For School Chaplains

April 8, 2011

Barrister Bret Walker SC, who is representing Mr. Williams

John Howard launched the national School Chaplaincy program in 2006 providing taxpayers’ money to support religious activity in the nation’s schools.

It is now being constitutionally challenged. Plaintiff Ronald Williams is arguing that the Commonwealth lacked the executive power to enter into the funding agreement at his children’s school and “by requiring school chaplains engaged at the school to comply with the stipulation set out in the NCSP Guidelines, the Commonwealth is imposing a religious test as a qualification for office under the Commonwealth in contravention of Section 116 of the Constitution.”

Section 116 states, “The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonweatlh.”

My view has always been government funding for school chaplains is wrongheaded and should have been abandoned with the election of the Rudd government.

The program introduces religiosity into state schools. As might have been predicted in 2006, school chaplains in Queensland are conducting Christian prayers at school assemblies and conducting lunchtime prayer and Bible club and study sessions. Fine, but the taxpayer is funding it and this was meant to be a program that saw them as counsellors, not as evangelists. They also recruit students for “Jesus boot camps.” Taxpayers are funding Christian evangelistic activity.

Kevin Rudd in 2009 promised the Australian Christian Lobby an “investment” of $42 million to extend the chaplaincy program to 2011. Prime Minister Gillard has allocated $222 million to extend the program to 1000 more Australian schools.

Like Thomas Jefferson I believe in “a wall of separation” between church and state. I don’t want to see squabbles at P and C meetings about whether a minister, priest, imam or rabbi gets the gig for a school. John Howard was adamant that “Students need the guidance of chaplains, rather than just counsellors.” The notion of the state funding religious activity is abhorrent.

Good luck to the solicitors Horowitz and Bilinsky, and barristers Bret Walker SC and Gerald Ng.

  1. BrisGuy permalink
    April 8, 2011 11:52 am

    Well I hope Ron Williams loses his case. Chaplains are making huge positive differences in schools, helping out thousands of students in a huge range of issues. Federal funding makes this so much more accessible.
    Ron Williams is an angry man who wants to fight every single mention of “church” in court. He would be surprised by what chaplains actually do in schools, I’m sure.

    • Checkside permalink
      April 8, 2011 12:28 pm

      BrisGuy, if you take your blinkers off you will see that chaplains may help some students, but any help they bring is tainted by their religious viewpoint. What schools need is properly trained counsellors, not prosthletising interferers who should have no role in a government school. It’s a disgrace. It’s equally a disgrace to have primary school students across Australia forced to be lectured on heaven and hell in RI or have to sit in the corridor.

    • April 8, 2011 2:48 pm

      The “positive difference” or otherwise of chaplains in schools is irrelevant. Section 116 of the Constitutiin state NO religious test shall be required for an officer of the Commonwealth. The NSCP clearly violates the highest law of the land and must be scrapped.

      If you want your kids to be counseled by a chaplain, then fund them yourself or send your kids to a private school.

    • Doug Steley permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:21 pm

      Mr Williams would not be surprised by what chaplains do in schools. he is very well informed by many parents about the actions of these people.

      Disgusted Yes, Surprised No

    • Cardinal Sin permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:31 pm


      Well, that’s a BIG claim.

      Can you back this up with some ‘evidence’?

      And, please, if you are going to use the ECU report, don’t bother.

      It is a biased set-up, designed for the ACL conference where Rudd was to speak.

      He did. But instead of gifting the $360m the NSCP scabs wanted, he only gave them $50m.

      but, he did do that on the basis of the total lie that ‘97% of all school principals with a chaplain’ and so on.

      Actually, 2760 schools had a NSCP funded chaplain, but only 688, of about 1200, responded to the survey.

      So, BIG FIBS all round by the greedy recipients of the ATO largesse, eh?

      In fact, 688 of 2760, which is ALL schools with a chaplain under NSCP funding, is ‘about’ 25%.

      25% is nowhere near ‘97%’ in my book.

      But then, I do not ‘lie for Jesus’.

      You know why?

      Because Jesus would frown on anyone who did that in His name, and may even consider them as a scumbag.

  2. Steve permalink
    April 8, 2011 12:03 pm

    The continuing “Special Religious Instruction” is an offence against free thought. The Government has no right to fund Religious organisations to evangelise, conscript or otherwise teach in public schools. If you want your children converted, send them to a religious school of your own choosing, but do not expect taxpayers who do not believe in whatever god you do to pay for it.
    Public schools are for the teaching of fact, not bronze-age mumbo jumbo or middle ages churned up amalgamation of thousands of years of pagan and other festivals.

    Get religion OUT of state schools.

  3. sheree waks permalink
    April 8, 2011 12:04 pm

    hear hear! we secularists (especially those of us who still send our kids to PUBLIC schools, as opposed to the hypocrites who mouth support for the public school system while sending their precious offspring to elitist or religious private schools) need to support this challenge

  4. April 8, 2011 12:04 pm

    Bob, I fully agree with you on this. It’s wrongheaded from every angle.

  5. April 8, 2011 1:35 pm

    I’m not sure I agree entirely; it seems as though the schools themselves are grateful to have the chaplains there. However, I take the point, and there should at least be clear, strict guidelines about what chaplains/counsellors can do with their time. Part of the problem is that it’s hard to ‘police’ what happens in the room when a student goes to see a counsellor.

    Anyway. It’s an issue where significant nuance is needed.

    • Brian permalink
      April 8, 2011 3:23 pm

      Schools are not grateful to have chaplains. See: Counsellors needed, not chaplains

      Public schools should be secular. If you want your children indoctrinated, send them to a religious school.

    • Cardinal Sin permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:14 pm

      Richard Glover.

      I take it you are not the least bit interested in having ‘secular’ public schools then?

      Declare your hand here please.

      Or forever hold your peas.

      • April 11, 2011 12:41 pm

        If by ‘secular’ you mean ‘worldview neutral,’ then not only am I not interested, I don’t think it’s possible. By all means include chaplains from faiths other than Christianity.

        My point, though, was that chaplains are perfectly capable of giving counselling in their offices, and also organizing Christian fellowship groups. Surely they can do both, so long as they are doing the job they’re paid to do.

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 11, 2011 2:32 pm

        Richard Chaplains are specifically instructed NOT to do those things they are NOT to give counselling in their offices, they are also specifically required NOT to organize Christian fellowship groups from their duties at school.

        You prove the point that this whole concept is fundamentally and fatally flawed from the beginning. You cannot specifically appoint religious people call them chaplains and then expect them not to to mention religion in their duties.

        This is exactly why trained professionals should be employed for these duties not untrained or undertrained religious zealots regardless of how well meaning they may be.

  6. April 8, 2011 2:30 pm

    This proves how misunderstood the role of chaplaincy is!

    Firstly, Religious Education is seperate from Chaplaincy! So let’s get that out of the way!

    Secondly, there is a vast difference between ‘evangelising’; and carrying out one’s beliefs about caring for others in our community in a practical, non-offensive way.

    Increasingly more children at schools come from incredibly broken and neglected families, partly due to our individualistic society. Chaplains facilitate community, being a listening ear, and linking kids in with appropriate help, social interaction and professional referral when necessary. This has proven without a shadow of doubt to be an invaluable asset in State Schools!

    People talk about “free thought” yet seem to get all “religion-phobic” when they hear there is a person of faith in their school.

    Maybe some of you people should actually engage a Chaplain yourself and find out exactly what it is they do, before making assumptions about their motivations, and ridiculing their personal convictions which are not enforced upon anybody.

    As a side note, perhaps a better understanding and appreciation of bronze-age “mumbo-jumbo” from various cultures and histories may help with your participation within community as well.

    • Karen permalink
      April 8, 2011 3:42 pm

      Chris, perhaps you’d like to explain why this much needed “listening ear” MUST be a religious person, as outlined by the chaplaincy guidelines? If there is a ban on evangelising and counselling (given they are not qualified), what exactly does a Chaplain *do* that requires their religosity? And why should my tax dollars pay for it?

      By all means, let’s have properly qualified counsellors. Or perhaps establish a secular mentoring scheme with trained volunteers from all walks of life. But we must abolish this nonsense scheme that gives evangelists a backdoor into our public, secular schools.

    • April 8, 2011 5:18 pm

      I understand the role of a chaplain perfectly. It might be true in theory that chaplains are not allowed to evangelise at school, but in practice this is frequently what happens. There have been many reported instances of this.

      Besides, I’d rather my taxes pay for professional counsellors for kids in need. In particular when dealing with issues including teen pregnancy, depression, drugs, sexuality, etc. I can see quite a few conflicts between a chaplain’s religous beliefs and what may be in the best interests of children.

      Maybe some of ‘you people’ – defenders of this scheme – should read up about Scripture Union, Access Ministries and other organisations who are the main providers of chaplains in this scheme, before accusing others of ignorance. Their very reason for existence is evangalism! Then we invite them into the schools and expect them not to do it?

      I have a fine understanding of many religions, thank you very much. Especially Christianity. I just don’t happen to buy into it, and I think my children have a right to not be indoctrinated while attending a public school.

      One final thought – you don’t need to be Christian to ‘participate within (the) community’. Christians don’t have a monopoly on love, tolerance, respect, good parenting, or community participation. So let’s get THAT out of the way!

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 8, 2011 6:32 pm

        Christians boast about breaking the rules in their own publication Access Ministries one of the approved suppliers of chaplains admits that they are breaking the guidelines set down for their chaplains in schools.

        Click to access TMA_page1.pdf

      • April 9, 2011 12:04 am

        There have been many reported instances of teachers going outside the bounds of their guidelines also. Should we do away with teachers?

        When dealing with any of those issues mentioned, children are referred by the chaplain to specialised professional counselling.

        Do I walk into Allans music and expect to be sold a mobile phone just because they are owned by Vodafone? Most organisations are capable of more than one objective and outcome.

        You have every right not to buy into Christianity. Surely children also have a right to gain understanding of religions other than atheism. Whether this is in school or elsewhere is really no skin off my nose, however this has little to do with the help offered by chaplains in our community.

        Certainly there is no monopoly. It has just always been a main objective of many community organisations such as churches (and sport clubs and charities etc) to make a positive difference in society. This is why governments would want to partner with these type of organisations.

        But at the end of the day, if the funding is dropped, churches will continue doing what they can to help. I trust that true Christians will be gracious with whatever result. Government is not the answer to all things.

        Have fun 🙂

    • Cardinal Sin permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:21 pm


      Actually, auld chap, you’re quite wrong with your claim that chaplains have nothing to do with religious education.

      They do, and it’s in the EQ policy, so there!

      Go and read it.

      But, it’s also in the boasting of chaplains in dozens of school newsletters, all over Qld.

      Of course, if you are part of the ‘lie for Jesus’ campaign, we understand.

      What would be really good in this ‘debate’ is if those who support chaplains in schools went and read the guidelines DEEWR put out, which are as secure as a colander -see the NT report for an objective eye- and, at least in the case of Qld, the EQ policy.

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 9, 2011 8:32 am

        “Surely children also have a right to gain understanding of religions other than atheism.”

        So by this logic atheists should be paid by the government to teach their beliefs in both state and private church schools as children also have the RIGHT to gain an understanding of our beliefs.

        Would you support half a billion dollars being spent so atheists Scientologists and others religious fringe groups could spread their beliefs to children ?

  7. April 8, 2011 2:54 pm

    This chaplaincy program is boneheaded and dividing the community. By all means fund trained counsellors in schools with the standard employment EEO rules – i.e. you *cannot* ask someone about religion in the interview. As it stands I would be rejected for one of these positions because I’m an atheist! Imagine the uproar if a government job was advertised and christians couldn’t apply!

    Thomas Jefferson was right. The wall between church and state needs to be strong, high and very very thick. Even the JWs who knocked on my door the other day agreed with me on this one.

  8. James permalink
    April 8, 2011 3:01 pm

    I too feel uncomfortable about having people prosletyse in schools, but from a s116 perspective, how is this different from a chaplain in the military? Both are officers of the Commonwealth, and both (I would think) would need to pass some sort of religious test to get the gig.

    What’s more, this is only a live constituional issue because of federal government involvement. If this was a state matter there’d be no s116 for the government (or religious lobbies) to worry about.

    • Doug Steley permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:20 pm

      It is no different for the military or any other federally funded chaplains.

      One of the interesting things is if Mr Williams case is upheld then the law requires that monies paid in error be reimbursed to the government.

      Small wonder the religious lobby is fighting this with everything they have.

      • Cardinal Sin permalink
        April 8, 2011 6:41 pm

        Ah, what a good idea Doug, and of course, all these chaplain employers are good, solid, moral, upright Christian organisations, so they would, naturally, be very quick to offer the illegal payments back to the flood victims of Qld and the cyclone victims and the mental health patients that have been denied help as nearly $500m of ATO monies was thrown down the drain supporting the wealthiest people in Australia, the churches, but, in fairness to them, they are innocent.

        It is Howard, Rudd and Gillard who are guilty, and it is them who should shoulder the debt… excised from their future super payments perhaps?

        The chaplain employers only took what the Commonwealth offered, and, assuming it was legal, why should they repay?

        Other than, as I said above, they are Christian and moral, and would not want to benefit from ANY act of illegality- should it be one.

      • Cardinal Sin permalink
        April 8, 2011 6:50 pm

        Err, actually Doug, a donation to the ACL or Scripture Union or ACCESS, or their ilk, is a tax deduction, so WE are paying for their legal case.

        Meanwhile, that poor sod from Toowoomba, Williams, Ron., is having to raise his own funds, from mortals like us.

        It’s God’s way, as ever.

        As I recall, from my Rugby days, ‘It’s the same, the whole world over, its the poor what gets the blame, it’s the rich what gets the pleasure, ain’t it all a bleeding shame.’

  9. April 8, 2011 3:04 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with you on this. I find it so depressing that this is where my tax dollars go. Why do we have government sponsorship of religious programs in our secular nation? Why are our governments so quick to bow down to the religious minority in Australia?

  10. tony permalink
    April 8, 2011 3:39 pm

    The school chaplaincy program is a really bad idea. It gives a “feel good” belief that something is being done for our children in need.

    We had a nice chaplain at our kids high school, she was young friendly and enthusiastic. She was also untrained at anything other than being a chaplain. How would you expect someone like her to have the ability to deal with a child who is self harming themselves, or feeling suicidal, or any raft of issues that aren’t religious.

    Please get the kids qualified and secular counselors who are trained in dealing with the issues kids in schools face. If parents want religious guidance, they have the choice to send them to any church they want.

    Our public schools deserve proper and qualified treatment, not “feel good” religious chaplaincy.

  11. April 8, 2011 4:03 pm

    “The notion of the state funding religious activity is abhorrent.”

    Here, here! If people want religion in schools, they can send their kids to a RELIGIOUS SCHOOL.

  12. Eliatan permalink
    April 8, 2011 6:05 pm

    Religion is something deeply personal and has no part in any job role in a government organisation. The good that some chaplains may do (in a non-religious sense) is outweighed by the harm that a few do by imposing their religious beliefs on others. School children need access to properly trained and qualified counsellors, not Chaplains.

    It frightens me that the bigots who stand up for these people in public schools would be the first to scream blue murder if an Imam was selected as the Chaplain for their children’s supposedly secular school. Understand that the argument is not against religion or people of religion, but their role within an organisation which by law is supposed to be secular.

    Many parents may have chosen to send their children to state school, rather than a private religion based school, because of the importance of a secular education. By funding a religious role in a school this leaves those families with no option for their children. If you thought discrimination against minority religions was tough, try out discrimination for those who have chosen freedom from religion. It is required by law that we respect the ‘beliefs’, however nonsensical, of our fellow Australians, but their is no requirement for the respect to be extended for those who choose no belief structure to dominate their lives. In fact, most religions include clauses for their members to actively disrespect this choice and do all they can to bring religion to those of no belief.

    Get these government funded religious people out of our State schools. If you choose religion for your family, then you have a choice of weekend churches and federally well-funded private schools. But don’t you dare try to pretend the rest of the country shares your views and wants access to such claptrap in their children’s school.

    • Doug Steley permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:29 pm

      An imam yes but imagine if Scientology or other fringe cults also started to get on the bandwagon.

      Personally I want to apply to be a Pastafarian Chaplain so I can spread the good news about the noodly goodness of the FSM.

  13. Doug Steley permalink
    April 8, 2011 6:17 pm

    Even in their own publication Access Ministries one of the approved suppliers of chaplains admits that they are breaking the guidelines set down for their chaplains in schools.

    Click to access TMA_page1.pdf

    The guidelines specifically require that chaplains do not mention their or any other religious beliefs to students and they are just there to provide secular advice. On their webpage access is boasting about how successful their chaplains have been in “Brings children to know Jesus”

    If they cannot even follow a simple guideline what else are they doing to our children ?

    Religions belong in church, education belongs in schools.

    • Cardinal Sin permalink
      April 8, 2011 6:45 pm

      Oh Doug, you are so silly!

      A ‘lie for Jesus’ is OK, because Jesus is so perfect, that He could not lie, and therefore, if you speak on His behalf, you are also free of Earthly taint, and what you say, is not a lie.

      It’s so SIMPLE Doug, why don’t you understand it?

      I’ll pray for you.

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 8, 2011 8:16 pm

        I see the light brothers and sisters

        hallelujah and pass that collection plate we need more money for Jebus

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 8, 2011 8:25 pm

        Cardinal Sin

        Re the rugby 😉

        I always remember coming from a state school in Sydney and facing the Marist Brothers 11. The good christian brothers would play their teams a year older than that of the competition so our grade 5 team would be up against teams a year older than us.

        I vividly remember a black robed Little Brother of Mary running down the sideline screaming “Put in the boot, you have the man down, for God’s sake put in the boot!” in his best Irish accent.

        So much for the god of mercy fairness and justice.

  14. Adam from Pootown permalink
    April 8, 2011 7:21 pm

    It’s really disappointing that we have to fight this battle again.
    I grew up thinking that the benefits of secular government and secular education were established in the civilised parts of the world about 100 years ago. Well, it seems that is true (no other developed country allows religious indoctrination in State Schools) … but Australia can no longer count itself as part of the civilised world. We’ve sold out to the pentecostals.

  15. Peter Pando permalink
    April 8, 2011 10:25 pm

    Dear Mr Carr,

    It is sometimes said Australia is one of the most secular, ‘godless’ societies on earth, and yet strangely also with a high percentage of believers in some God or other. On both sides there’s propaganda, which can be confusing, but the most interesting thing to me is this: even in the midst of a secular society with an understanding of evolution and the immense diversity on earth which has resulted and which might yet appear, people struggle to recognise any form of religion as a social strategy with results which might affect human evolution. One way or another depending upon how it is deployed, in what circumstances, and on its level of success in achieving its moral or immoral aims religion will affect the gene pool in often unpredictable ways some of which may prove useful to humanity. The sword thus cuts both ways.

    Many people also fail to recognise religions as theoretical systems both of ‘knowledge’ and more importantly of how to gain knowledge, which can be used to serve the broader aims of society – even secular society. A religion can at least can invite young people to examine the relationship between language and knowledge and truth, for example, which some posts have relied upon. Pride on either side of the debate is funny when you consider the economies and cultures having the most influence on Australia in current times. That said, what better way to get a foothold in schools for that assiduous religious social-climber Buddhism, or even dark horse Taoism, than to encourage the most vitriolic expressions of old Western religious tensions rather than understanding the deep symbiotic relationships in Western society, between religious, scientific and secular cultures?

    • Cardinal Sin permalink
      April 9, 2011 10:32 am

      Peter Pando

      “Many people also fail to recognise religions as theoretical systems both of ‘knowledge’ and more importantly of how to gain knowledge, which can be used to serve the broader aims of society – even secular society.”

      Wow! Which ‘religions’ were you thinking of?

      Given that the rightwing fundies who tend to populate the NSCP positions have trouble understanding the difference between a ‘religion’ and a ‘denomination’ one has to ask, “do you?’

      You might do, but let’s play the game as if you were one of these religious intruders on ATO wages, just for the sake of this blog.

      Now, do tell, which religious mob will we learn the most from, and how will they assist in the evolution of the species?


      Plymouth Brethren


      Baptists (I do so love the ‘God hates fags’ church)

      All the God fearing US tellie evangelists

      The Jones Town Crew

      and so on….

      Or, were you only thinking of the ‘good’ side of religion?

      Like, the sex abusing C of E, the Vicar of God’s Mob, Gillard’s friends from the Salvo’s who just apologised for buggering hundreds of children over the yaers?

      Oh yes, ‘religion’ is without fault, and there is sooo much to learn from it.

      Or, perhaps you were not really meaning to talk about ‘religions’ at all, as in the powerful man made structures that are potentially as corrupt as every other man made power structure can be, but you were actually thinking of a more personal approach, involving quite pondering, self reflection and a spot of philosophical musing?

      All of which can be done without any form of ‘religion’ of the man made power structure type.

      Just wondering.

      • Peter Pando permalink
        April 9, 2011 4:10 pm

        You’re right, and no one with a decent mind would defend the grievous history of human cruelty, stupidity and evil that you’ve sketched, whether it occured in or outside of the institutions claiming christianity. Evolution does have a way around these horrible aspects of life, though. If it didn’t, we’d have nothing. Despite the worst that is done, rationality and love continue to dominate human existence and advancement. That doesn’t mean that advances can’t be reversed, and vigilance might help to prevent chaplains becoming agents of cruelty or evil.
        A completely secular community is no more obtainable than an entirely Islamic or Christian society, because we have the freedom to make up our own minds. Seeing that religion is part of social reality, then, the question is: what aspects of religion can help Australian society? You mentioned the meditative aspect and philosophical aspect. I mentioned consideration of what knowledge is, and its effects on language and communication. Given the influence of a degraded popular and social media culture in schools, as a contrast, the presence of a chaplain might also suggest these alternative activities. Of course, a measure of mature acceptance would be required for that to have any value, as in any social web. What about the value of forgiveness and tolerance as preludes to inclusion too?

        Another question is whether or not it is of value to the entirety of Australian society to leave a total educational void in the comparative religion box , given that sooner or later in life we all meet religious people, and given that, with the fostering of multiculturalism, religion plays increasing roles in economics, politics and cultural life. Consider the Chinese dragons that chase away spirits at their festivals, for instance. Will you drive them from the market places too, or keep them out of schools? Or is religion only Christian, Islamic or Jewish? Given that Australian schools teach in English and the English language originates from Christian nations, I don’t think chaplaincy is an unreasonable adjunct to education.

        Btw, there was a Cardinal Sin who died in 2005. He was a Roman Catholic, of Chinese origin, in the Philippines. Did you know?

      • Peter Pando permalink
        April 11, 2011 4:35 am

        No one here is defending criminal behaviour by anyone -priests, ministers or teachers – except, possibly, those who say there’s no supreme moral code. Even the moral relativists in this debate aren’t defending criminal abuse of children either, I’m sure.

        There are 3 issues:
        1.If a totally secular multicultural society is as unobtainable as a totally Islamic or Christian society (in name at least), religions are here to stay, and therefore need be seen as potentially beneficial for all Australians. How can such a positive view be achieved in and through schools, chaplains or not?

        2. Is fair for atheists to impose a one-sided ‘materialist’ education on children through taxes paid by a large number of religious Australians?

        3. If the answer to 2. is ‘Yes’, would that require an imposition of an exclusionary religious test on a teacher or school principal – or soldier, politician or other public servant?

        If the answer to 3. is ‘Yes’, liberal atheists would find such bigotry repugnant to the Australian way.

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 11, 2011 10:00 am

        To answer Peter Pando’s questions


        There are 3 issues:
        1.If a totally secular multicultural society is as unobtainable as a totally Islamic or Christian society (in name at least), religions are here to stay, and therefore need be seen as potentially beneficial for all Australians. How can such a positive view be achieved in and through schools, chaplains or not?

        (1) By educating children in ALL religions and all beliefs not just one narrow concept of the christian faith. As an atheist I think it is vitally important that ALL schools state and private are required to teach and discuss all religions and all belief systems so that all children grow up with an understanding of what others believe in.

        Leaders from all the major beliefs should be invited to schools to discuss their beliefs and answer questions from children and young adults.
        The problem we are addressing is that ONE state sponsored religion is being forced into schools and onto children, ask yourself if the same thing was happening but the religion being forced onto children was Scientology or Islam would you be happy with that or would you be complaining ?


        2. Is fair for atheists to impose a one-sided ‘materialist’ education on children through taxes paid by a large number of religious Australians?

        (2) Churches and religions are tax free and have ample opportunity to spread their beliefs . Education does not teach materialism it teaches facts and what is required in the School Curriculum if you can find one reference to teaching “Materialism” in that then please let me know and I will help to complain to get it removed. ( on the other hand telling lies for Jesus is still telling lies and against all moral codes I know of including your bible )

        3. If the answer to 2. is ‘Yes’, would that require an imposition of an exclusionary religious test on a teacher or school principal – or soldier, politician or other public servant?
        If the answer to 3. is ‘Yes’, liberal atheists would find such bigotry repugnant to the Australian way.


        The question is not what people believe IN PRIVATE but what they do in our schools.
        I do not care what beliefs they privately hold, so long as they are good teachers and teach what is required.

  16. Anthony permalink
    April 9, 2011 5:31 pm

    I agree Bob. It really is a ridiculous situation to put a school in, to have to decide which denomination or faith gets a gig at that school.

  17. April 9, 2011 6:17 pm

    The need is there in our schools. Our kids deserve better – a properly qualified youth counsellor(in cog.behav. therapy etc) who have a better chance at providing long lasting tools for coping with life…and resilience training.
    My 8yr Nephew was guided to a camp run by religious group when he should have been referred to a psychiatrist. So much time wasted and may have avoided being expelled.
    There is nothing wrong with being exposed to knowledge of various faiths – and discussion that you can have spiritual feelings , but it is not fact, and there are better ways to cope with life and death and everything in between than something imagined.
    I have as much right and qualification to be accepted as a “Chaplain” being non-religious but as a secular humanist.
    It’s all about Govt. cheap and exploiting the religious because you know they are guided by their belief and wanting to convert others.
    In Queensland, these ‘Chaplains’ might do some good, but they also believe in Creationism, discrimination against others etc End it now, and give the kids professional in-school social workers/counsellors.

  18. M B Andrews permalink
    April 9, 2011 11:30 pm

    It’s not much of a case. The Commonwealth already employs hundreds of people who perform a religious duty. And, I assume, they are people who have fulfilled certain religious tests. They are Army, Navy and Air Force chaplains. In purely logical terms, there’s no real difference in role, funding arrangement or constitutionality.

    • April 10, 2011 7:49 pm

      I guess it is possible there may be some flow-one effect if Williams’ case is successful, but principally the case is about the specific method of funding the NSCP. The government is unable to pass legislation to fund the chaplaincy scheme because this would breach the constitution’s restriction against legislation in respect of religion. Instead – to circumvent this restriction – they have appropriated funds from the Education budget – but this is also, allegedly, illegal, because money spent from the education budget must be, specifically, for educational purposes.

      This is obviously an arguable case. One of Australia’s top barristers, Bret Walker SC has taken it on, the government lawyers are taking it seriously and it has progressed through two High Court directions hearings. There is no suggestion at all that Williams does not have a case that needs to be answered.

    • Cardinal Sin permalink
      April 11, 2011 6:00 pm

      That’s right MBA, and they’ll be the next mob to be challenged I hope.

      How terrible these war-chaplains are, blessing the bombs and bullets and then telling people to love one another and do not kill.

      How do they manage to keep a straight face?

      Must be the wages I suppose, a jobs a job when you have no useful lifeskills.

      • Doug Steley permalink
        April 11, 2011 6:51 pm

        I always remember a military chaplain telling me what a “Beautiful service” it was for one of my mates killed in a service air crash.

        When I finished telling him about what was actually in the coffin and what the bits looked like ( I was the photographer involved in the initial crash investigation ) he threw up and left me alone.

        I also remember the service chaplain I went to for help when the air force realized I was actually dyslexic and while I was a great photographer I could not cope with the desk job they had posted me to.

        His choice was either to support me against the command structure or bend to the will of HQ and dump me on the scrap heap.

        Guess where I ended up ? Yep out of a job and on my own 😦

        So much for chaplains supporting troops that was the final tipping point for me to become an atheist

      • April 11, 2011 8:35 pm

        @Doug – do you know what the ANZACS called the chaplains? Cook’s tourists. True, there were some good chaplains, but they were good because they did things like ‘acquire’ supplies for the troops – in other words, they were good people rather than ‘good Christians’. But most of the chaplains couldn’t cop the conditions, didn’t last long and were not well respected by the soldiers.

      • Bob Carr permalink
        April 11, 2011 9:17 pm

        Okay, folks I think we have had our fun. Everyone has had his say. I have had more responses than to any other item on this blog. Says something. Right now I want you to read my newly posted review of an American historical novel about John Brown…there’s a lot of religion, good and bad, in it too. No more comments about chaplains.

  19. SecondaryTeacher permalink
    April 10, 2011 3:24 pm

    While Labor pumps hundreds of millions into the church education in our schools they are stripping science education; presumably to pay for it.

    Garrett reportedly has cut DEEWR’s Primary Connections and Science by Doing programs. I guess Gillard sees more hope in Cardinal Pell’s support for action on climate change than that of a science literate community.

    Makes you wonder.

  20. Peter Pando permalink
    April 11, 2011 3:29 pm

    Dear Mr Carr,

    Doug Steley’s response to what I wrote is odd. First, he compares religious tax-breaks with free state education, as though schools are the equivalent of camps or church complexes for the non-religious. North Korea and the Communist China would be proud. Western society is a network or a web, not a jigsaw puzzle, and that web is spun out of its history.
    Second, imagining that one’s private beliefs won’t affect one’s social or public life would be a hilarious idea if it weren’t so alarming. Consider the attitude suggested by this statement: “They keep to themselves alot, but they’re harmless”. How many terrorist infiltrators of nations hope that’s the general attitude of their host?
    Third, he imagines that ‘facts’ are taught. The question then is whether there are more facts to be learned about our universe and society. We are now in a post-9/11 world, and the West has to stand up on its foundations, and particularly those historical foundations which made secularism possible in order that some level-headedness prevails.. If chaplains remain in schools after this court case you described, I hope atheist people are vigilant, but not divisive.

    • Doug Steley permalink
      April 11, 2011 5:10 pm


      OK your reply has me confused,

      Where have I compared religious tax breaks with free education ?
      Where have I suggested we turn schools into Stalinist or Maoist camps ?

      Where exactly is my quote “They keep to themselves alot, but they’re harmless”. and can you please expand the context of it ? I cannot find it nor do I remember saying anything like that ( I am dyslexic and have problems with reading and writing but I usually have an OK memory, please be so kind as to jog it for me )

      As for teaching facts in schools what would you consider a viable alternative ?

      By “Facts” I mean how maths is used how grammar and spelling should be correct, what science is and how it is applied, a general overview of history, geography and cultures, the general school education curriculum. What would you suggest as a viable alternative ? Schools like the Islamic religious schools where the only book taught is the Quran untill students can repete the entire text from memory ?

      I for one think that education is more about teaching facts than spreading fairy stories.

      I would really appreciate it if you actually do answer these questions Peter 😉

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