22 JUNE 2006


"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself, and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one. "   Benjamin Franklin


DOGS condemn the move to introduce federal government funded chaplains into our public school systems. They condemn this attack on the two vital underpinnings of our democratic state - the public education system and the principle of separation of Church and State. The proponents of Federal Government financial support for State School chaplains attack both freedom of religion and religious liberty itself.

Who are the politicians behind this push for federally funded State school chaplains?

According to the Sunday Age of 11 and 18 June 2006, Jason Koutsoukis has listed various people who, on the whole appear to be either private school products or private school patrons. They are:

  • Prime Minister, John Howard whose children attended private schools

  • Federal Minister for Education, Julie Bishop who is the product of St. Peters Collegiate Girls School Adelaide and member of Anglican Schools Commission Western Australia 1994-1999. ( she entered the Federal Parliament in 1999)

  • NSW Member of Federal Parliament Louise Markus, who has a "Hillsong" connection

  • Greg Hunt Victorian Member of  Federal Parliament, who is a product of Peninsula Grammar

  • Andrew Laming, Queensland Member of Federal Parliament who appears to have a connection with "Churchie" ( an Anglican school in Brisbane).

  •  David Fawcett, South Australian Member of Federal Parliament who is a matriculant from Prince Alfred College, South Australia and a council member of Clovercrest Baptist Church and a member of the Board of a Tyndale Christian School in South Australia.

  • Fran Bailey, Victorian Member of Federal Parliament, a product of All Hallow Girls School, a Roman Catholic school in Brisbane.

  • David Hawker, Victorian Member of Federal Parliament and speaker of the House of Representatives, Geelong Church of England Grammar School.

  • Tim Costello, brother of Peter Costello ordained Baptist church minister and Chief Executive of World Vision Australia. He is a product of Carey Grammar school.

  • Chris Pearce, whose connection with the private school sector is unknown to DOGS.

  • Major General Jeffrey, the Governor General who in 2003 agreed to become the patron of the National Association of Government School Chaplaincy Providers.

Promoters of State-School Chaplains Push attack Public Education:

In an article in the Sunday Age, June 11, 2006,  Greg Hunt was said to have "slammed State school systems for being anti-religious and said it was time the Commonwealth intervened to give government educated children a chance." He went further to say that "there was a gaping hole in the religious education needs of government school students  the parents wanted the government to fill. There is a clear need in our schools for the mentoring and personal development, counseling and crisis management, the opportunity for value based guidance and religious education that a chaplain could provide."

The Federal Minister for Education Julie Bishop was quoted as saying that parents "were looking for choice in education and values to be taught to their children. This proposal is consistent with the national framework for values education in the Australian Schools program currently being implemented across the country."

Mr Hunt is more overt than Ms Bishop in his attack on public education.

Supporters of public education as established under the Free, secular and compulsory Acts throughout Australia  reject outright the claim that public education is anti-religious ( Hunt) and by implication,  or "lacking in values" (Bishop) -  such values being the preserve of those peddling religious dogma.

It would be interesting to update the 1960s statistics done by Lance Hutchinson regarding prison populations and alcoholism together with their connection with ex-pupils from the church school systems. Unfortunately these statistics were too adverse for private school interests and the information source was terminated.

Public Schools are Not Anti-Religious

Greg Hunt's "anti-religious" anti-State school invective is a old nonsensical 19th Century chant trotted out by private school products and those who despise the public education system. Public schools in Australia were never set up to be anti-religious. They were set up to make an education available to children of all religious belief systems with offence to none. They were set up to minimize religious sectarian disputes in educational provision that plagued Europe, England and Ireland with echoes in early colonial Australia. Public schools were set up for the public good, not, as church schools were, for private, church advantage. There were always provisions for denominational teaching if religious men and women were able to provide it.

Public education is the cornerstone of our cohesive society, and it is the values learned in the written and unwritten curricula that have resulted in the Australian society current sense of justice, tolerance and a "fair go". The erosion of the tolerant society and the creation and legitimization of tribal rather than community values should be laid wholly and solely at the door of the church school sector.

What values underlie private church schools that reject  children on the basis of creed, class, color or ability to pay?

Funding of Chaplains in State Schools represents an attack on the Principle of Separation of Church and State and Religious Liberty:

According to Greg Hunt the issue of Separation of Church and State would be avoided because " it would apply only to those schools that applied for funding and would be voluntary for those students who wanted to consult a chaplain. " But the trouble is that in Victoria the so-called comparative religious education under the recently passed Education and Training Reform Act is going to be a core not voluntary subject with no provision for opting out! If, as Greg Hunt said in Federal Parliament on 13 June 2006, the chaplains are going to contribute to religious education, they will be involved in a compulsory not voluntary religious exercise.

What makes matters even worse is that DOGS discover that World Vision Australia chief, Tim Costello, an ordained Baptist Church minister, and the brother of the Federal Treasurer Peter Costello - said that he had been a long time supporter of chaplains in State schools and the Commonwealth support for a national program would be most beneficial to the community.

DOGS note that Tim Costello is a member of the Baptist communion and it was the Baptists who in  the past were known as the proto evangelists of separation of church and state. So DOGS suggest that it is Tim Costello who needs a lesson in his own history and Baptist values!

It is absurd for Greg Hunt to claim that separation of church and state is not violated just because some people in a state school might want to opt in or out of a federally funded chaplaincy scheme.

Why does a Government Funded State School Chaplaincy Offend Religious Liberty and Church State Separation?

By its very nature religion is a voluntary expression. Taxation is not a voluntary act. Whatever we do or give in religion must not be a matter of law but of conscience. There is no more sacred or basic right than that of contributing only to the religion and its activities to which one wishes to contribute and to the extent that one wishes to contribute to it, if any.

The attempt to compel another to be involved in religion is the germ that develops into spiritual despotism. Taxing a person for religious purposes is the very essence of tyranny.

The payment of money for the support of any endeavour constitutes one's involvement in that endeavour. One of the most important of all acts of worship is that of contributing to whatever religion one approves. The government extraction of compulsory contribution through taxation to be used for religion forces on to pay homage - to participate in a religion to which one may be conscientiously opposed. This is a violation of both freedom of worship and freedom of conscience.

No government has the right to force any person to be involved in religion, not even his own!

As James Madison has said,

"...there is no shadow of right in the general government to intermeddle with religion. Its least interference with it would be a    most flagrant usurpation."

The uniting of government with religion is hostile to liberty. The separation of religion from government is a necessary pre-condition for religious liberty.

"The province of the civil ruler about religion is to have no province at all."

Religious matters should be separated from the jurisdiction of the State, not because they are beneath the interests of the State, but quite to the contrary. Religion is too important a matter for the individual conscience and is thus beyond the competence of the State. It belongs in the realm of individual choice and action.

Once the government funds a religious enterprise, the State is joining with the church with that enterprise. Government funded chaplaincies are thus an offence to both separation of church and state and religious liberty.

What Lies Behind this Government Funded Chaplaincy Proposal?

 DOGS wonder what is really going on. Is this a piece of kite flying by politicians? Where are the churchmen who are going to benefit from this scheme?

As late as 19 June 2006, Federal Senator Vanstone representing the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, in response to a question by Senator Allison concerning the funding of State School Chaplaincies, responded as follows:

"Senator, I am sorry, I have had a look at the briefs in this area, and there is none in relation to this announcement on the weekend. I am sorry about that. I will get an answer from the minister and give it to you."

DOGS have searched a number of the websites proponents of the scheme, but have found nothing about up to and including June 19, 2006.

DOGS wonder whether this is just a further development of the religious Machiavellianism which turned up in the Victorian Education and Training Reform Act. We wonder whether this proposal, particularly that emanating from the Victorian MP Greg Hunt, is connected with the trashing of the secular provisions by the Victorian Labour Party in the Act. We wonder whether some of these proponents or their religious friends or their organizations/ churches stand to gain from this proposal in various material as well as spiritual ways.

Dangers Ahead for the Free Secular Universal Education System

If this proposal gets up and our State schools are burdened with payment of religious persons  and their pursuits, it is clearly obvious what the major church school faction - the Roman Catholic Church - will argue. They will claim that they should be paid as much if not more public funds as State Schools because State schools are just as religious as they are, but they do religion even better.

Religious Purity Lowered while Genuine Education Suffers.

Cant you just see all the broken down ministers and priests who cant hold a congregation together in the pews or get sufficient money in the collection plate lining up for jobs in our State schools. While religious purity goes begging in our community, the children in State schools will continue to suffer discrimination in the funding stakes.

Opportunities for Opus Dei or Fundamentalists of Any or Every Brand ?

Just imagine the marvellous opportunities for religious fundamentalists of any and every kind getting in on the act. What will you do if your child is under the tutelage of  Opus Dei or its Muslim equivalent on the staff of your local State school?

Keep our State Schools Secular!

Religious indoctrination belongs in the home or church and not in a school funded from the public purse.





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Last modified:Tuesday, 27 June 2006