16 May 2011

Remember kids, Buddha is Satan’s friend

A Christian organisation that supplies chaplains to Victorian schools under Australia’s National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) has been caught breaching the program’s guidelines by calling for students to be made ‘disciples’ of the Christian faith. Surprise surprise. The CEO of Access Ministries, Evonne Paddison, has explicitly told a church conference in 2008 that they have a “God-given open door”, courtesy of both state and federal governments, which allows them to “take the Christian faith into our schools and share it”. Paddison made it clear that it is the duty of Christians in general and Access Ministries in particular to win converts for their faith. “We need to go and make disciples.”

Expecting evangelical Christians to abide by secular laws is only one of the foolish mistakes made by the Howard government when it created the chaplaincy program in 2006. The following is taken from the Stop the National Schools Chaplaincy Program website:

The National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) was announced in October 2006 by the Howard government. It provided $90 million of Commonwealth funding over three years for school chaplains which was subsequently increased to $165 million. The Rudd government announced that it would honour these funding commitments and that the program would be reviewed and expanded to include secular counsellors, but only if a suitable religious chaplain could not be found by the schools. As it currently stands the Commonwealth is committed to funding religious chaplains in around 2600 schools across Australia.

Even though current PM Julia Gillard is an atheist, her government is still supporting this clear breach of state secularism. The recent federal budget includes a $222 million boost to the NSCP. Taxpayers are still funding the deployment of school ‘counselors’ who lack proper training and experience, whose key qualification is that they follow the teachings of an undead Jewish rabbi who may or may not have lived in the lands abutting the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea approximately 2000 years ago.

There are good reasons to oppose the NSCP. A salient one that calls into question the moral rectitude of Access Ministries itself is the fact that its spokespeople have taken great pains to cover up the organisation’s blatantly anti-secular objectives, using weasel words, cant and outright lies. Evonne Paddison claimed that her organisation was not in the business of winning young souls for Christ. “We instruct our people not to proselytise, we're not there to convert children,” she said, even though Paddison stated exactly the opposite in her 2008 speech.

Then there’s Access Ministries chair Bishop Stephen Hale, who insisted that its religious educators and chaplains in schools did not breach government guidelines. How does he know this? Because if any of Access Ministries’ chaplains had done so, there “would be more complaints.”

But there have been many complaints. Mary Bluett , the Victorian branch president of the Australian Education Union, recounted incidents where chaplains have told their young charges things like “Buddha is Satan’s friend.” The AEU is calling for the Victorian government to withdraw funding from Access Ministries. Deputy president Meredith Peace has said that although “religion had a place as a subject of study in a comprehensive curriculum that acknowledged its role in the cultural, historical and philosophical development of society”, such a subject should be taught by “qualified teachers, not volunteers, and embrace all religions.”

It requires a stupefying level of naivety to trust that Christian evangelists will refrain from making religiously biased comments in their daily interaction with school children, whose tender minds they view as prizes to be claimed for their Lord and Saviour. Religious influence has no place in state schools. It promotes discrimination, divisiveness, hypocrisy and the undermining of science education. If parents wish to indoctrinate their children in myths and superstitions, they are free to do so in private. What they and any religious organisation may not do is impose such irrational nonsense on others. That such an imposition be state funded is adding insult to injury.


HT: Martin @ Furious Purpose

No comments:

Post a Comment