Labor determined to keep School Chaplains despite High Court decision
- High Court finds Chaplains in Schools program is invalid
- Millions spent on programs so far
- Govt vows to fight to keep chaplains in schools
The Gillard Government is once again defying the High Court this time vowing to maintain the controversial “School Chaplains” program.
The program has attracted criticism for amounting to a form of taxpayer funded religious indoctrination, propaganda, and a recruitment channel for religious organisations who are given free reign to prey on vulnerable children who may be subjected to unwelcome religious “counselling.”
Originally founded by John Howard in 2006 and lauded by conservative Christians and the religious right, the schools chaplains programs has cost taxpayers some hundreds of millions of dollars on what many regard would be better spent on secular counselling services free from the influence of religious scripture.
Toowoomba parent Ron Williams successfully launched a High Court challenge against the chaplaincy program, arguing it violated the separation of church and state and encroached on the state’s powers over education.
Mr Williams had four children at the Darling Heights State School in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, which has had a federal government-funded chaplain since 2007.
Mr Williams says he believes passionately in the separation of church and state.
“Public schools aren’t a place for religious missionaries, with or without government funding,” he said.
“The fact the federal government was funding them was adding insult to injury.
“It really isn’t the Commonwealth’s place to be funding chaplains in public schools. It was always a political manouevre from the very beginning.”
This morning, the majority of the High Court declared the Commonwealth’s funding agreement for the scheme was invalid because it was beyond the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers.
The Government has vowed to challenge the High Court decision and is determined to continue taxpayer funding for the program reflecting yet again, it’s determination to pander to religious conservatives.
Minister for Religious Indoctrination Peter Garrett vowed to continue funding for the school chaplains program despite the High Court declaring the scheme “invalid.”
“We’re committed to maintaining funding for the school chaplains,” Mr Garrett said.
Following the decision, The Greens have announced that school chaplains should be replaced with “child welfare workers.”
Greens MP John Kaye called the court challenge, brought by Queensland father Ronald Williams, a “great victory for secular public education.”
“The offensive misuse of public money to push religion onto innocent public school children has come to an end,” he said in a statement.
Chief Justice Robert French wrote that the reasons for the decision were based upon constitutional provisions for executive power and did “not involve any judgment about the merits of public funding of chaplaincy services in schools”.
Dr Kaye said NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli should redirect $25 million in commonwealth funds to pay for 300 qualified child-welfare workers at needy state schools.
“The use of enthusiastic amateurs to address the welfare needs of troubled students has been dangerous and misleading,” he said.
“Public funding of chaplains has been offensive.”