Confusing the role of chaplains and the teaching of religious education in schools seems to have been the go in Victoria for some weeks now. It appeared in the national media via last Saturday’s The Weekend Australian. My mate and Access Ministries Board member, Ian Harper, replies here,
RELIGION in schools is a touchy subject and so it helps to be clear about definitions and categories. In making his case against chaplains in government schools, Christopher Bantick (“Chaplaincy program participants beyond a prayer”, The Weekend Australian, May 21-22) begins with a category confusion.
Chaplains funded by the federal government’s National Schools Chaplaincy Program, for which additional funding was announced in the budget this month, are appointed to provide pastoral care to students. Chaplains do not teach religion in schools. Religious instruction in government schools is entirely separate from chaplaincy. Nor are school chaplains necessarily Christian. Under NSCP guidelines, schools and their communities determine the “role, faith and/or denomination of the chaplain”.
See the article from yesterday’s Australian here, A place for spiritual and ethical guidance.