Schools should not be holding trivia nights to raise funds for school chaplains, according to Secular Party spokesperson, Greg Plier. “A public and supposedly secular school has decided that the best way to care for their students is to employ religious chaplains,” said Mr Plier. “Frankston High School has just held a trivia night to raise money. Why not do that to better resource their Student Wellbeing Team with properly qualified counsellors or welfare officers?” Mr Plier stated that the National School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program (NSCSWP), despite the name change, is virtually exclusively for the employment of chaplains by church-based providers.  “Frankston High School and state schools throughout Australia educate many children from families that are of religious minorities and from families that have no religion,” he said, “yet the vast majority of chaplains and religious providers are Christian.  The NSCSWP direction that school chaplains are not to preach, proselytise, evangelise their faith, or promote a particular religious belief is completely at odds  with the requirement that they must be endorsed by a recognised or accepted religious institution.”

He emphasised that chaplains and evangelical organisations such as ACCESS Ministries have no place in Australia’s secular inclusive public school system. “The Federal Government and schools should not be in the business of advancing religion,” said Mr Plier. “Clearly, the employment of chaplains is against the secular principle of separation of church and state.”

Mr Plier concluded with a reference to the Secular Party’s policy that the National Schools Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program be replaced with a single program supporting only qualified counsellors and student welfare officers in schools.

Aug 6, 2013