Jun 3, 2014

Jesus is coming — to your local primary school

The government is all about austerity -- except when it comes to putting Christian chaplains in state schools. We investigate how the scheme works, who's using it, and how you become a chaplain.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Interested in a taxpayer-funded job in a state school? There are some going, and here are the prerequisites:

  • subscribe to one or both of the creeds of the Christian church (Apostles’ Creed and/or Nicene Creed);
  • demonstrate a living and personal relationship with Jesus Christ;
  • demonstrate strong Christian character evidenced by “servant leadership”; and
  • demonstrated ability to apply the teachings of the Bible to real-life situations.

Unfortunately, if you’re not up with the Nicene Creed then you can’t be a chaplain in a state school. At least not with the Scripture Union Queensland, one of the major chaplain providers (these are just some of its prerequisites).

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22 thoughts on “Jesus is coming — to your local primary school

  1. Vincent O'Donnell

    Given those numbers, there are 3,555 chaplain places costing $244 million. That is $68,636 per placement but the schools only get $20,000 per chaplain.

    Of the government’s 40 pieces of silver, some one is creaming off 27.5 of them in ‘administrative costs’.

  2. mikeb

    Seems like a cheap way of getting a trained counsellor into schools. As long as they respect the boundaries of not forcing religion (whether it be Christian or kalathumpian) onto a student I can’t see a problem. I guess many will be cynical but if so then base your cynicism on facts not bias.

  3. Ken Eastwood

    Cathy Alexander’s horror that Christians might actually apply to be chaplains in schools is palpable. I would have thought the fact that a professed faith in which love, a desire to help others and support the downtrodden is key wouldn’t be such a bad thing for a chaplain. Is she suggesting that Christians shouldn’t be employed? Or that those providers of school chaplains who happen to be Christian organisations shouldn’t be allowed to determine who they employ? By all means take an axe to the whole scheme if that is your political bent, but to suggest that Christians shouldn’t be employed sounds like discrimination to me.

  4. zut alors

    I could be wrong but, to date, haven’t the guilty perpetrators unearthed at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse all been Christians? Hardly a recommendation. The risks would be lower employing heathens in schools.

  5. Cathy Alexander

    I’ve checked the Constitution to see if we are a Christian nation there. It refers to ‘Almighty God’, and it contains an oath which ends ‘So help me God’ (an alternative affirmation is provided). However, I can’t see a specific reference to the Christian God, or Jesus.

    Every day before Parliament sits the Anglican version of the Christian Lord’s Prayer is read out over both houses (despite the fact there are more Catholics in Australia than Anglicans). Read about it here:

    So are we officially a Christian nation? And if we’re not, why should taxpayers fund Christian chaplains into state schools?

  6. paddy

    I’m deeply distressed that not one Jedi has applied for the gig. NOT ONE!

  7. Philip Hunt

    Is there something stopping non-Christian groups from having a Chaplain program? If so, then I agree there is an unfortunate bias. If not, then step up.

  8. Philip Hunt

    There’s no such thing as a “Christian nation” any more than there is a “Christian deodorant”.

  9. Philip Hunt

    Likewise, there is no such thing as a Christian chaplain, or a Christian journalist. But there are chaplains who also claim to be Christian, et cetera.

  10. Cathy Alexander

    But Anglicanism is the official religion of the UK, right Philip? And that’s why a Catholic cannot become monarch? I’m interested in whether Australia has an official religion.

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