It’s chaplainin’ time!

Well, thank goodness someone’s finally doing something about the disturbing trend towards humanism in our schools. Since the whole inconvenient division between church and state became popular in political theory, it’s been viewed as inappropriate for the government to back any particular religion. Heaven forbid the decision about a child’s religion be left up to the discretion of parents. Goodness knows, some of them might even opt for their children to have no religion!

There will be a few teething problems, like determining which denominations should supply the chaplains. But I’m sure they’ll figure it out. I mean, different religious denominations always work so well together. Protestants and Catholics have a long tradition of harmony to draw on, particularly in places like Glasgow and Northern Ireland. So you can imagine that members of one Christian group will be just fine with their kids coming into school-hours contact with members of another denomination. And what’s more, in recent years, both denominations have been drawn closely together by how much they hate another Christian sect, the Charismatics. And Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims just love working together – hey, in some parts of the world, the two major branches of Islam aren’t even in armed conflict.

Based on the Government’s tight links with the organisation, though, I am assuming that most of the chaplains will be from Hillsong. They’re young, funky and hip, like a religious version of Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street. And because there’s money from the Government on offer, you can assume Hillsong will be right in there – no other church is better at making a buck.

Fortunately the government has reserved the right to veto chaplains, to ensure that no-one untoward is appointed – you know, like a socialists. Some Christian groups are downright leftist, and those aren’t the sort of values we want in our schools. Sure, religious freedom is important, but we’re talking about public funding here. So it would be improper for these chaplains to impose their own agenda. It’ll be their job to impose the government’s.

But as the ALP said in approving the motion, values are good. Let’s not worry particularly about which ones, or whether they’re sexist or racist or whatever – kids just need them, okay?

You do have to be careful, though. I mean, what if Shiek al-Hilaly was a chaplain? That’d be a disaster! Much better to have Christians in the schools, teaching more accepted forms of sexism, such as that women aren’t permitted to teach men (of course, if the Catholics and Jensenites have any say, none of the chaplains would be female) and that wives have to obey their husbands.

And of course the current batch of experienced, dedicated teachers isn’t capable of providing them. Because, as is widely known, most teachers are left-wing.

But there’s one great thing about this plan that most commentators don’t seem to have identified. We can assume that many schools simply won’t be able to agree on which particular religion to back. With most Sydney public schools hotbeds of cultural diversity, parents will doubtless agree that it’s better to have no chaplain. But that won’t be a problem at religious schools, of course, where only one particular denomination gets a guernsey. So what this policy ultimately equates to is even more federal funding for private schools. And that’s one value that John Howard definitely supports.

Dominic Knight

Photo of Hillsong: Ben Rushton