I have a Twitter friend, an ordinary Aussie mum, so outraged at the allocation of nearly quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayers’ money to the National School Chaplaincy Program, she’s taken to scanning the internet for information about what chaplains actually do.
We’re told they can’t proselytise, the guidelines say they can’t ‘counsel’. In a budget which slashed funding for the CSIRO, failed to provide ongoing funding to help students with disabilities to stay in school, cut millions out of Federal funding for dental care and alternative energy, and slashed $80 billion from state-provided health and education services – how does Mr Hockey justify one-quarter of a billion dollars for chaplains!
What do they actually do?
In my previous post I revealed that, despite the ban on proselytising, chaplains, and the funding recipients which provide them, see one of their key roles as ‘making disciples’.
No, that doesn’t involve a piece of folded up paper and a pair of scissors. It means making your kids into Bible-believing, happy-clapping, tithe-paying followers of Christ; whether you, as a parent, like it or not.
You don’t get to sign a permission slip for your child to ‘attend’ the chaplain’s ‘office’. The chaplain is ubiquitous in the school – speaking (even praying) on assembly and special school events, in the classroom as a teachers’ aide, coaching sporting teams, running sausage sizzles and crazy hair days, presiding over lunch-time ‘clubs’, mixing and mingling on the playground and accompanying the kids on school excursions. If you want to exclude your child from interaction from the chaplain, you’ll pretty much need to exclude them from school.
Now, chaplains aren’t allowed to proselytise. But if your child finds lunch time a bit boring, they might just follow some of their friends into the chaplain’s lunch time ‘club’ or ‘group’. This, apparently, is allowed under the guidelines.
And, thanks to my curious Twitter friend, we have an insight into the kinds of things that go on in these taxpayer funded sessions in taxpayer funded school rooms. Now, you can see – at least in part – what your quarter of a billion dollars is being spent on!
Calum Henderson is a Christian primary school teacher. Recently, under the auspices of the Crusader Union of Australia – Crusaders: Sharing Jesus with a new generation – Henderson presented a session at a development day for teachers and school chaplains. The session focused on games that can be played during lunchtime Christian group sessions.
No intellectual discussion about the wisdom of the crusades, here, folks! No education about the impact of religion on art and politics, no insights into the theological differences that led to the split between Protestants and Catholics, no introspection about whether modern ethics and Biblical law are compatible!
No. Instead, Calum suggests that chaplains should remove the labels from cans of food and let the kids guess what’s inside them. Could be anything, right? That’s the fun! Bet you would never have guessed Split Pea and Ham Soup! Gotcha!
Here’s another great activity that’s apparently worth more than providing funding for hospitals and dental care: line up three glasses with three different kinds of Coke in them and see if the kids can tell which is which.
That’ll get those intellectual juices flowing!
And, just to make sure the kids get in some vital physical activity, there’s this great game where one player holds up a finger and the other person tries to grab it. Riveting stuff!
Yes, it’s true, I’m being facetious and misrepresenting these suggestions somewhat. You see, these are not just silly but fun games for bored kids. No. They’re designed to loosen the kids up to be receptive to the chaplain’s message.
“Try to link games to the Bible topic as often as possible,” Henderson advises. “If you only have 30 minutes, a 10 minute game which reinforces the main point will be incredibly helpful.”
The aim, as the Crusader Union puts it so succinctly is to ‘share Jesus with a new generation’.
Mr Hockey’s quarter of a billion dollar gift is allowing chaplains to do just that – in our public, secular, taxpayer funded schools.
“There is nothing more wonderful than witnessing a young person put their trust in the Lord, walking alongside them as they learn to treasure God’s Word and seeing them go out to declare their faith among their peers. And Crusaders is there to help them!”
“Since 1930,” I learn from their website, “Crusaders has been blessed to see lives transformed by the Gospel on a regular basis. This year, Crusaders staff and volunteer leaders will reach over 2,500 children and teenagers each week across NSW and the ACT with the Good News of Jesus.”
But, Crusaders isn’t just about getting chaplains and teachers to proselytise to children. The aim is to train up kids to bring in their friends. It’s works just like network marketing.
Here’s the blurb:
“CRU knows it can be hard to share Jesus with your friends and stay strong in your faith at school.
That’s why CRU has 6 full-time staff workers to visit, support and speak at your CRU Lunchtime Group, give Bible talks at chapel and help train you for Christian leadership.”
Well, that’s a relief! And your chappie is right there in the school to help you get all your unchurched friends to come to lunchtime groups and, “Hey! Guess what? CRU also holds holiday camps! Cool, huh?”
You see, the thing is, there’s this inconvenient ban on proselytising in schools, so chaplains have to be a bit subtle. If you can just encourage the kids to attend a camp – and peer pressure functions hugely in this – then you’re free of the constrictions of the National School Chaplaincy and Education Department guidelines. It’s gloves off.
“CRU Camps endeavor to provide all campers with a camp experience where they can build meaningful friendships, see ‘real’ Christian leaders live out what they believe, and have heaps of fun.”
While Australians wait up to six years to see a specialist, while kids’ teeth rot for want of dental care, while science is sold down the river, while pensioners are told they have to pull in their belts even further to help a nation suffering crippling debt, Mr Hockey has found a quarter of a billion dollars for this travesty.
Mr Hockey will be answering viewers’ questions on Q and A on Monday night. Maybe you’d like to submit one?