Chaplains under fire down under

Military chaplains may be a Constitutional anomaly in this country, but we are not the only ones who wrestle with the issue of publicly funded clergy working in secular institutions.   Australia has a chaplaincy program in its public schools that has some parents in Queensland calling for its disbandment on Constitutional grounds.  Some of the issues will sound awfully familiar:   the faith groups represented in the chaplaincy do not mirror those of the population it serves (one report states that 98.5 % Australia’s school chaplains are Christian while only 64% of the community they serve are),  critics contend that some chaplains overstep their bounds by imposing their Christian views on the kids, and supporters point to the great work some chaplains do for all kids, regardless of faith.  Nice to know we’re not alone.



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3 responses to “Chaplains under fire down under

  1. carolwallace

    I like the idea of chaplains in schools but what I’m envisioning is more like a high-powered guidance counselor with advanced metaphysical views. Are the Aussie school chaplains a legacy of the colonial era?

  2. Believe it or not, this chaplaincy program started in 2007 “to support school communities that wish to access the services of a school chaplain or secular pastoral care worker” in order “to support the wellbeing of their students, including strengthening values, providing greater pastoral care and enhancing engagement with the broader community.” Kids don’t have to consult the chaplain — just like troops don’t. So chaplains (from what I can gather) have to walk that fine line between making themselves accessible but not imposing themselves. Of course, schools aren’t like the military or prisons where kids theoretically have no access to outside pastoral or counseling care. So, even assuming effective chaplains do help many in the student body, should atheist taxpayers be supporting this with their tax dollars?

  3. Pingback: School chaplains down under raise Church-State issues | chaplainsunderfire

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