When the Churches admitted that the Religious Instruction scheme in South Australian State schools had broken down they produced the Religious Education system for which the Education Department appointed qualified teachers. The Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc joined the movement KOSSS which aimed to KEEP OUR STATE SCHOOLS SECULAR.
Our attempts failed.
However, it is obvious that the Education Dept was unable to implement the scheme. Therefore the churches came up with a new approach – SCHOOL CHAPLAINCY. It could have come direct from the Bible belt of the USA.
The Education Dept has apparently granted the Schools Ministry Group carte blanche control of chaplaincy and imposed the following conditions on school principals, parents and students.
1. Information about a student can only be given to an organisation or another person if a parent or care provider gives permission.
2. Principals are requested to make details of a student’s religious affiliation available to the local clergy so seminars can be organised.
3. When chaplaincy services are requested by local religious leaders, secondary school Principals, in consultation with school councils, are empowered by the Minister to make this service available. The chaplain must be acceptable.
4. Chaplains should be available to students at the discretion of the Principal.
5. Chaplains should be available for counsel ling, referring and reporting. Chaplains have no teaching role. They can supply input in regard to value systems and assist in camps, excursions, clubs and school groups. With local churches, they may provide ‘Religious Seminars’ in school time as permitted under Education Regulations.
Chaplaincy is to be at no cost to the Education Department or the local school.
(As the Education Dept already provides paid professional counsellors to some schools the chaplaincy system could be seen as financially advantageous to the Department. Where a School has a counsellor, what role has a chaplain other than to promote Christianity?…KSC)
The Schools Ministry Group has the control of the chaplaincy and advises that the school should set up a sub committee of five or six members with 2 from the school, from the local Church Council or Ministers Association and 1 from the SMG.
(Effectively the members from the school are out-voted…KSC)
The church members of this sub-committee are responsible for arranging the chaplain’s salary. The full committee is responsible for advertising for and interviewing the candidate who must meet SMG approval and sign their contract.
The essential qualifications are:
1. A personal commitment to the Christian faith as stated in the Nicene Creed.
2. An active membership in a Christian congregation. (NB The chaplaincy is exclusive to Christians…KSC)
3. Experience in working with young people.
4. To be able to demonstrate commitment to ecumenism.
5. A knowledge of the educational and ethical issues of young people.
6. The ability to relate and work with young people and respect people with different beliefs and values.
It is desirable that applicants have undertaken theological and counselling studies.
The Government has laid down for chaplains 27 conduct codes that are unlawful, unacceptable, expected, avoided, provided, incumbent etc.
10. Discrimination of any kind (verbal, attitudinal or physical) perpetrated by the chaplain, is unacceptable. (Compare this with 16…KSC)
16. Chaplains should represent those belief’ as stated in the Nicene Creed. (This apparently does not rate as verbal discrimination but 17 does…KSC)
17. Chaplains are to avoid promotion of the beliefs or practices of any one denomination.
18. The chaplain provides a resource (?) for students and staff seeking a spiritual/faith/Christian perspective. It is not the role of the chaplain to proselytise. (Only to gain Christian converts…KSC)
19. It may be appropriate to provide an opportunity for students to clarify and respond to the Christian faith.
20. Chaplains are encouraged to avoid unhelpful theological terminology.
23. Chaplains are expected to develop a relationship with local churches. (Why?…KSC)
25. Any advertising should be honest e.g. if it is a worship event it should not be advertised as a concert. (Why ‘should be’? Honesty surely requires that it ‘must be’…KSC)
26. Before making statements to…a State-wide or Adelaide-wide media the chaplain should consult with the SMG Chaplaincy Co-ordinator.
27. Chaplains are employed to represent heads of Christian Churches and therefore are to uphold the principles of the Christian faith.(Those principles include the killing of witches and homosexuals, condoning slavery, rejection of family ties and obligation loving on command, acceptance of transference of guilt and responsibility for social breaches to an innocent scapegoat. They also include partaking in ritual cannibalism, replacing reason with belief in primitive concepts that are without concrete evidence, complete acceptance of moral and political authority, adherence to the concept of male dominance and female subjection. If the chaplain happens to be Roman Catholic, then the Christian principles are those formulated and enforced by the Vatican. KSC)
There are 14 Principles of Service laid down by the SMG:
1. We acknowledge that God is at work in every school.
2. We seek every opportunity to share the Christian message with people (staff and students…KSC) in schools, (believe or go to everlasting torment in hell…KSC) enabling them to make their own informed response (but they will do their utmost to prevent students from having access to the relevant information that would enable them to do so…KSC)
3. We affirm our Christian responsibility to serve the school community. (In the words of Jesus “Go….and compel Them to come in?…KSC)
7. We accept…the principles of consultation with other Christians…(but not with non-Christians or unbelievers…KSC)
13. We recognise the authority and responsibility of local inter-church groups (but no other groups…KSC)
Refund of work-related expenses for all chaplains.
The SMG recommends that local churches include in their budgets $495 p.a. for training and resourcing chaplains. There are several key events which chaplains are expected to attend and the allowance should be used to cover costs.
(1) Orientation training provided by SMG for new chaplains.
(2) The annual SMG Chaplaincy Conference. It can also be used to cover the cost of (a) Scripture Union training events and drama workshops and (b) buying or hiring videos, cassettes and books for their work in the school.
(3) Buying Bibles and Jesus-videos to give to students.
(4) Literature explaining how to be a Christian and live as a follower of Jesus.
(5) Seminars, basic stationery, craft material, hire equipment for a lunchtime group, puppets and material for play therapy.
(6) Travelling for home visits, school camps etc.
A chaplain contracted for 10 hours per week would cost $8933. For 20 hours per week the cost rises to $17,127. (Any organisation which suggests the expenditure of money of such proportions expects an equivalent return. Chaplaincy is not for the benefit of school students but for the long-term benefit of the Christian Church. In co-operating in such a procedure, surely the State Government is laying itself open to legal challenge of supporting a religious viewpoint or of blatant discrimination…KSC).
By Keith S Cornish