Skip to comments.Court stops Australian funding of school chaplains
Posted on 06/25/2014 3:57:50 PM PDT by Objective Scrutator
An Australian atheist campaigning to keep religion out of the education system won his second victory Thursday when the nation's highest court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to fund a program that provides chaplains to schools.
Ron Williams began his legal battle against the multimillion-dollar program after his 6-year-old son came home from Darling Heights State School in Toowoomba city in Queensland state singing gospel songs in 2010.
Williams won in 2012 when the High Court ruled that the government had exceeded its constitutional powers by funding the program, which began in around 2,700 schools five years earlier.
The government kept the program going by amending federal legislation to address the court's ruling. But five High Court judges on Thursday unanimously agreed with Williams that the federal funding of chaplain contractor Scripture Union Queensland remained unconstitutional despite the law change.
Both judgments focused on technical aspects of how the federal government can spend public money under the constitution rather than deal with Williams' philosophical objection to state-funded religion in secular schools.
"It always seemed totally inappropriate that a program could be put into public schools on no other basis than the largely unqualified people that were going in - with the only proviso being that they be religious," Williams told Australian Broadcasting Corp. after Thursday's ruling.
(Excerpt) Read more at m.apnews.com ...
Both judgments focused on technical aspects of how the federal government can spend public money under the constitution rather than deal with Williams' philosophical objection
If this really is true, then I suppose this ruling is not necessarily bad (although the anti-Christian bias the court has cannot be as easily discounted as the Marxist AP would like it to be).
That being said, what exactly is the definition of qualification? Should a single institution of bureaucrats be the sole deciders of what is and isn't correct? It's telling that they don't address that the fundamental problem is that the government, rather than the market, is what is running these schools. The market needs no regulation and can adapt to students' needs on the fly; public schools can do little other than bloat in size and inefficiency while giving power to Bolshevist sympathizers in unions.
Sounds like a terrible father. Hopefully his son disowns the bitter b8astard. its amazing people like this aren’t taken out when they pull stunts like this.
It must be pure torture to grow up in an atheist family. You would get beaten for any dissent from the secular humanist liberal philosophy, and there will always be a constant reminder that your parents would have considered your abortion at some point in time.
I come from an atheist left wing family. You are 100% correct.
The horror of hearing a child sing gospel songs!!!!!
but its okay to fund all sorts of perversion
haha. I had my mother yell at me “Your views are not welcome in this house!” when I stated I believed in God’s view of marriage.
It is true. The ruling is solely based on whether or not the Commonwealth government can fund programs without a clear constitutional connection to its powers. Under the Australian constitution, the Commonwealth government is responsible only for areas specifically outlined in the constitution - any other area remains under the control of the state governments of Australia (which are older - the Australian colonies became self governing in the late 19th century, the federation as a single country - the Commonwealth of Australia - only came in 1901). In simple terms, because the state governments have explicitly responsibility for school level education (the Commonwealth government is largely responsible for university level education however), so the Commonwealth government can't directly fund chaplains in state schools. However, there is no reason why they can't give the money to the state governments to fund them, and that is likely to be the solution in this case. Every state government supports the program in principle, as does the opposition Labor Party.
Constitutionally the ruling makes perfect sense - but the Commonwealth government has been funding programs in this way for decades, without this particular issue being raised before. It's only come up this time, because the atheist groups went looking for a reason to block this program and were told their argument about it being religious wouldn't work - though the Australian constitution contains similar provisions on freedom of religion to the US constitution (mostly because that section was modelled on the US First Amendments religious protections), our High Court has long interpreted them differently - freedom of religion means religion is allowed in schools here, as long as nobody is compelled to participate, and as long as the state doesn't directly fund religious activities (it can fund non-religious activities of religious bodies - so it can fund religious hospitals to treat cancer, it can fund religious schools to teach mathematics, and it can fund chaplains to provide general support for children's welfare).
That being said, what exactly is the definition of qualification? Should a single institution of bureaucrats be the sole deciders of what is and isn't correct?
The qualification issue isn't really all that relevant, despite the way this article is written. Mr Williams has a problem with the chaplain's being 'unqualified' - the High Court does not. But if it did become relevant, it's actually handled pretty easily - the relevant qualification would be what is referred to as a Certificate III level qualification in Australia. A school chaplain should be able to get such a qualification in less than a day through what is referred to as 'Recognition of Prior Learning'. How much it would cost is highly variable, but it wouldn't be hard for it to be a simple administrative charge of less than $100. The system is bureaucratic, but it actually works fairly sensibly if it's allowed to.
It's telling that they don't address that the fundamental problem is that the government, rather than the market, is what is running these schools. The market needs no regulation and can adapt to students' needs on the fly; public schools can do little other than bloat in size and inefficiency while giving power to Bolshevist sympathizers in unions.
It doesn't get addressed as such, because, honestly, it's not all that relevant in Australia. Our education system is very different from yours - partly because of the way our High Court has interpreted those rules on religious freedom. Though state schools receive the bulk of government funding, private schools also receive a significant amount of government support which makes private education cheaper in Australia than in most places, and which means a far higher number of Australian children attend private schools than in most countries - a third of all children are in private education at any one time, and nearly fifty percent will attend a private school at some point during their education. Because private schooling is a genuinely and generally available choice for most families in Australia, state school systems have to actually be competitive to survive. The system is a long way from perfect, but it's actually pretty good. Increasingly, even state schools are being made more and more self governing so they can adapt to local conditions and situations more readily.