By initiating ‘a national chaplaincy program’, the Federal Government renewed and exacerbated harm for upcoming generations of students. The very act of a system authorized by parliament gives undue credibility to a set of myths, which are not supported by known facts. This is nothing less than the manipulation of the minds of children who are still learning critical analysis skills.

Existing chaplaincy programs demonstrate overwhelming attraction of the zealous evangelical/fundamentalist/Pentecostal side of Christianity whose one purpose in life is to win converts. The effects on students with other ‘faiths’ or none, will be negative, as their ‘beliefs’ or lack thereof are not privileged with the same government sanction. ‘Non-denominational’ in essence, means Christian supremacy.

The consideration, that ‘values’ rest mainly within the precinct of a particular religion is patently false and arrogant. Such thinking emanates from religiously indoctrinated politicians and not from clear-headed evaluation of available empirical evidence. In fact, the opposite can often result exampled by an unnecessary confusion on social mores and curtailment of scientific endeavour.

Leaving the introduction of chaplaincy programs to cash strapped or agenda driven school councils and principals is inviting the worst outcome possible. The priority of the education system must be that properly trained professionals perform counselling of children. A few weeks course by persons of strong religious persuasion is a recipe with consequences that will include detrimental exploitation of young minds.

The duty of care to Australia’s most vulnerable citizens is compromised by curricula emphasising reliance on ‘faith’ over actual teaching of knowledge. Governments are elected to safeguard an open society, including its youngest members and not to propagandise narrow divisive viewpoints. Moreover, whether the official promotion of Christianity is an infringement of the overall intent of Section 116 of the Australian Constitution is a moot point.

We call upon members of parliament, state and federal, to not support this or any chaplaincy program but rather build upon existing initiatives more conducive to a pluralist society.

David Nicholls
President, Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc

Ian Robinson
President, Rationalist Society of Australia

John L Perkins
President, Secular Party of Australia

Dr Max Wallace
Australian National Secular Association (ANSA)

Humanist Society of Queensland

Steve Maxwell
Secretary, Rationalist Association of NSW

Humanist Society of NSW

Oct 30, 2006