Pharyngula

It takes real effort to purge yourself of parasites, and Australia’s got ‘em: rabbits, cane toads, and now…chaplains. In a nation that prides itself on its secular government, Australia has this bizarre and inappropriate relic, the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), which somehow manages to suck large sums of money out of the government to pay to infest the schools with useless little leeches whose sole purpose seems to be the indoctrination of nonsense into the brains of children.

Being subject to individual State and Territory education policies, since its introduction, the NSCP applies varying degrees of religiosity across Australian state schools. NSCP federally-funded state school chaplains within Queensland conduct Christian prayers on all-school assembly and at significant school ceremonies while holding lunchtime prayer/Bible ‘clubs’, activities and study sessions. Chaplains enjoy ‘access all areas’, wandering in and out of classrooms, work as de facto teacher aides and freely engage with students in the playground, on school excursions, school camps and sport. Chaplains co-ordinate, oversee and conduct Religious Instruction classes and on-campus church-designed and run programs including Hillsong ‘Shine’ for girls, and ‘Strength’ for boys which ‘connect’ children with evangelistic off-campus clubs, programs and intensive ‘Jesus’ boot camps. Correspondence from hundreds of concerned parents in every Australian State and Territory reveals that occurrences of the federally-funded National School Chaplaincy Programme being blatantly utilised as a Christian evangelic ministry are the norm within the nation’s state schools.

During his keynote address at the Australian Christian Lobby annual conference in November 2009, then Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd offered high praise to the NSCP and school chaplaincy in general while claiming responsibility for the introduction of Scripture Union provided state school chaplaincy in Queensland during the early 1990s when working within the Goss government. During his speech, Kevin Rudd pledged an ‘investment’ of $42m to extend the NSCP to 2011.

Not only is it contrary to the mission of an educational system to have wandering jesters in the schools, teaching stupidity, but it drains real money from resources that should be used, for instance, to hire more teachers.

Ron Williams was not happy with this situation, and he’s fighting back. He has a case being tried before the Australian high court to end this ridiculous program nationwide, and he needs help, since he’s now opposing the highest officials in the land.

After years of correspondence and meetings with then federal Education Minister Julia Gillard, state education and DEEWR executives as well as personal meetings with two Education Ministers and their Directors General, in 2009, a frustrated Mr. Williams sought advice regarding a possible High Court challenge to the constitutional legality of the Commonwealth providing treasury funds to the National School Chaplaincy Programme. In February 2010, Horowitz & Bilinsky accepted the case. Consequently, Horowitz & Bilinsky appointed Bret Walker SC, Gerald Ng Barrister to the case. The case is now proceeding.

Ironically, in August 2010, the newly appointed Labor Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, while endorsing and awarding high praise to the NSCP, pledged a further $222m toward extending the programme to at least 1000 more Australian schools. This sum was to represent almost one third of Labor’s 2010 pre-election four-year schools policy education pitch of $704m. At the time, when questioned regarding the Christian faith-based nature of the National School Chaplaincy Programme being maintained, Julia Gillard was adamant that the NSCP would continue as a ‘chaplaincy’ programme “with everything that that implies”, thus echoing John Howard’s sentiments of 2006.

Ron Williams has made a plea for your assistance in fighting nonsense.

If you’d like to donate, visit his High Court Challenge site. Come on, Williams is also the guy who wrote this song — secularism with a sense of humor deserves some reward.