Tag Archives: secular

NSCP – I’ve had my say

Now have yours.

The Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations has posted an online survey requesting feedback on the National Schools Chaplaincy Program(NSCP), which Godless Business has posted about before. The survey asks 15 questions, some of which are check boxes the remainder require a short written answer.

My responses are as follows:

1 – Yes
2 – No, I think the minimum qualification should be higher
3 – Bachelor / University degree
4 – Youth work, Negotiation skills, Counselling skills, Other: Secular, Non-religious.
5 – Currently there is no requirement for chaplains to be qualified, this is a complete disgrace considering we are talking about vulnerable and impressionable children. Aside from the fact there should NOT be chaplains in public schools in the first place, school counsellors should have appropriate counselling qualifications, such as a Degree in psychology or similar.
6 – Yes
7 – Service providers should be suitably qualified to deal with all problems children may experience. They should, as much as possible, be free from any and all biases. Religious chaplains, due to the dogmas of their respective churches, carry biases, such as anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, that may make it more difficult for them to provide unbiased information to some children.
8 – Service providers should have qualifications that are recognised by applicable government medical authorities.
9 – Definitely not. The whole NSCP should be scrapped and replaced with a system that employs suitably qualified youth workers and/or psychologists. Counsellors should not be employed solely on the basis that are religious.
10 – Yes. And no. This question is loaded, in fact this whole questionnaire is loaded. It is being presented as though a chaplain is the best/only solution, and offering an option to include a non-faith based support worker is somehow being generous. You are avoiding the whole issue – it should not be about faith based versus non-faith based, it should be about employing the best people for the job regardless of their superstitions.
11 – Having support workers chosen based purely on their religious leanings is discriminatory and does not enable a school to choose the best, most suitably qualified, person for the job.
12 – An administration model that provides as many suitably qualified psychologists as possible, backed up by suitably qualified youth workers, and where requested suitably qualified pastoral care workers.
13 – Pooled funding
14 – The current system is not innovative in any way shape or form, having a system that employs religious chaplains as workers in schools harks back to the dark ages rather than the 21 century.
Computer based delivery systems could be utilised that provide guidance and information for common problems, that then link a child to a suitably qualified psychologist. For rural/remote areas, systems such as skype could be a cheap and effective one-to-one delivery system for initial consultations. A pool of suitably qualified support workers could be on hand to go to areas of need as required.
15 – Why is our government even supporting a chaplaincy program in the first place? Surely this program is both unconstitutional and discriminatory? The concept of “chaplain” implies a very Christian centred program, what about other religions and non-religious children? Doesn’t the current program discriminate against them in some way? The whole NSCP should be scrapped and a new secular program instigated that provides personnel who are suitably trained to look after the needs of all children in a non-discriminatory, non-religious, non-judgemental, non-proselytising, non-evangelising, non-biased way.

Feel free to use my responses as an aid in responding yourself, additional responses can be found at the AFA Forum on this thread, which can also be used to assist you in writing your own responses.

H/T to askegg from Godless Business for the opening paragraph and information about the NSCP and ideas for answers to the survey.

Now go and fill in the survey yourself.

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What is it good for?

To paraphrase Edwin Starr’s song War:

NSCP, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing

Today @ChrysStevenson tweeted about an article on the sunshinecoast.com.au site titled: School Chaplains programme could end. Written by Liberal National Federal Member for Fisher Peter Slipper who warns that “a valued school programme could be at risk under Labor.” That “valued” school program? The totally wasteful, dangerous and delusional National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP). Slipper warns that under a Labor government Gillard may cancel funding to the NSCP, he states that:

The Liberal National team has committed to keep funding part-time school chaplains for at least another three years.

As if that’s a good thing!

Apart from a few deluded religious people, and obviously the churches as they see this as a great, taxpayer funded, way to proselytise to a captive audience, I don’t accept that there really are that many people who think the NSCP is a good idea?

Slipper tries to argue

“Even the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd described school chaplains as the ‘glue’ that holds school communities together.

Well Rudd would, he’s a deluded religious nut too.

Slipper’s final statement

“A lack of continued support for this project would simply be another Labor backflip.”

Should be worded:

“A lack of continued support for this project would simply be the right thing to do.”

The only possible reason I can see that some school principals and teachers see the NSCP as a good thing is that it provides government funding for some sort of counselling. The problem is that this funding is going to unqualified and unskilled religious ministers. What the government should do is provide the same amount of funding to fully qualified, trained, experienced, secular counsellors such as the Australian Psychological Society has recommended in their submission (pdf).

I posted a comment on Peter Slipper MP’s article, under my twitter OzAz name, and also sent the MP an email, this is a copy of that email:

Just read your piece on the mysunshinecoast.com.au site. I for one, and there are very many like me, would be more than happy to see the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) end. It is a total waste of taxpayers money and appalling that taxpayer funds are used to promote religion in public schools.

I have posted a comment on the site, I trust you will bother to read it and the other comments deploring the NSCP. In case you do not have the time to read all the comments, I posted this link: http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/APS-Submission-School-Chaplains-July2010.pdf I strongly suggest you read it, take your obvious religious bias out of the equation and decide if the APS has a valid point.

I’m not affiliated with the APS at all, and not sure if their proposal is the best, but I am sure it would be better than having chaplains performing counselling services, and at least it is a secular approach. Which is the way it should be in state schools.

Regards

May I suggest you also write a comment and or send an email to Peter Slipper peter.slipper.mp@aph.gov.au letting him know that a lot of people do NOT want the NSCP.

Cheers

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Technical Education Goes Sectarian And Private

Rudd and Gillard continue the Howard toxic legacy of throwing vast amounts of money to tax exempt religious organisations in order to run (or should that be ruin) our education system. Turning what should be a secular system, open to everyone, providing unbiased (religiously) education; into a sectarian education system overseen by organisations with one purpose in mind; to convert everyone to their particular religious ideology, and get good tax breaks whilst doing it.

Now the government has gifted four Technical Colleges to religious organisations.

Well they reckon Jesus was a carpenter, so I guess it fits. </sarcasm>

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Secular and Science Events – Sydney

There are several secular and science events coming up in Sydney (and a few other cities, see links), which I am intending to attend. These include:


AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL SECULAR ASSOCIATION (ANSA)CONFERENCE:  Secular Twins: Australia and New Zealand’s Secular Heritage and its Future

WHERE: NSW Parliamentary Theatrette, Sydney

WHY: To respond to claims that Australia and New Zealand are “Christian nations”.

WHEN: 9am  – 5pm Wednesday 9 July 2008.

More details here


intelligence2 OZ Debate: We’d be better off without religion

WHERE: City Recital Hall, Sydney

WHEN: 6:45pm Tuesday 19 August 2008.

More details here


National Science Week: National Tour, featuring Michael Shermer

Where: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

When: 6pm – 11pm Friday 22 August 2008.

More details here, bookings not yet available.

Michael Shermer is also debating John Lennox (this guy?) on Friday and Saturday, further details to be announced.


Just thought a few readers may be interested, Shermer is also going to be in Melbourne, Perth and Darwin. I hope to be attending all the above events, if any readers are also attending and want to catch up for a drink, let me know.

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Balls, Paths, Teachers, Daunting, Erred, Dr Who

Several articles of a religious nature from the SMH newspaper:

Purity Balls

An increasing number of young American women and girls are attending purity balls with their conservative Christian fathers who promise to protect their daughters’ chastity until marriage. About 88 per cent of these women lose their virginity before they wed, writes Neela Banerjee.

There are a few things about these Purity Balls that make me go WTF? The biggest one is the sexual abstinence thing, it’s just not very viable (88% is a very high failure rate), the sexual urge is a very primitive and strong urge. One that at times needs to be tempered, but also needs to be acknowledged. Another problem is the lack of sexual education these people get, they are told “just don’t do it” and not provided with the knowledge to prevent unwanted pregnancies or STDs if they do ‘do it’.

And the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the US found that rates of sexually transmitted diseases were higher in communities with a high proportion of pledgers.

I agree with PossumMomma, the best thing to do is provide education and develop a mutual trust and respect with your children. I wouldn’t encourage young teens to have sex, quite the opposite, but it’s better that they understand all the consequences and know all the options regarding contraception, STDs, etc. if they do want to have sex.

Catholic WYD – Clearing a path

It’s getting closer and the special laws are in place, so Sydney is now a Police State. The special World Youth Day Act means the State government can direct the Sydney Council to do whatever World Youth Day Co-ordination Authorities request! Apart from all the radical traffic changes, the authorities are/were planning on removing trees in a park to provide easier passage for the C-WYD pilgrims. Are these pilgrims so blinded by faith they need obstacles cleared from their path so they don’t bump into them? ** snerk ** 

The final paragraph of the SMH article sums things up quite well, and not just about C-WYD.

“I think we have to be careful about how communities are being disempowered under the guise of ‘You need this for security or to make this event successful’. Part of living in a democracy is consultation and coming up with better decisions together.”

Catholic WYD – I wonder what the Teachers really think?

Teachers and staff from Catholic schools ave been asked to give up to six days of their own time in school holidays to supervise overnight sleepovers for Catholic World Youth Day pilgrims.

Quite rightly, they are concerned with the logistics, duty-of-care and how to deal with inappropriate behaviour. I wonder how many also aren’t keen about losing their holidays?

Daunting World for Newly Secular

For ex Orthodox Jews the real world can be very daunting, and lonely. An interesting article featuring the story of Assaf Philip who used to be an ultra-orthodox rabbi. When Assaf decided to become a secular Jew it

cost him his family, most of his friends and excommunication from his entire community.

So, like Scientology, Exclusive Brethren and undoubtedly other religions, the ultra-orthodox Haredi Jews also practice disassociation for anyone who leaves their faith.

With no money, and no education in basic areas such mathematics and the sciences or the English alphabet, Philip says he was ejected from his home almost within hours of his rabbi learning he had lost his faith.

Philip, and others like him also have very little social skills as the Haredi Jewish community is a fairly closed community. Philip’s wife was picked for him by his father and rabbi and he met her only a couple of hours before their wedding.

Some of the other problems that secular Jews perceive are

that being Haredi carries with it certain privileges which include not having to pay tax, not having to work and not having to do three years of military service.

and some people think our government is lenient on the religious.


One last one I stumbled upon whilst trying to find the online links to the above articles. An opinion piece written by the Anglican Dean of Sydney Philip Jensen, the Anglican equivalent of the Catholic Archbishop George Pell. For those not in the know the Sydney Diocese of both the Anglicans and Catholics are the most staunchly traditional of the diocese around Australia. Pell and Jensen are also well known for voicing their opinions.


Church of Rome hath erred

So starts Jensen’s opinion piece.

Jensen says he thinks it’s an honour that Sydney is to host the Catholic WYD, but he is protesting none the less. Jensen’s protest:

is against the enormity of the claims of the Roman Catholic Church

Well that’s one thing I agree with Jensen about, but I think it may be the only thing.

Some people are born as Protestants. They are anti-Roman Catholic because of their own tribal roots.

SAY WHAT? People aren’t born as any religion, they get indoctrinated and brainwashed into the religion they are unfortunate enough to have been born into. They are anti-Catholic because their parents, Ministers and other authority figures tell them to be.

Jensen then goes on to rejecting various Catholic doctrines including the Catholics claim to divine authority, particularly

the Pope claiming to be the Vicar of Christ

Hmmm, something else I agree with, sort of. The Pope has no more ‘divine authority’ than anyone else, especially if you consider there is no divine authority.

Jensen then tells us that the Catholics have every right to get money from the government. It’s just being hospitable and like any other event hospitality is expensive. I wonder then how much money the Gay Mardi Gras gets from the government? I also wonder if Jensen, and Pell wouldn’t mind being just as hospitable to a World Atheist Day?

Jensen then discusses secularism.

World Youth Day does not compromise the separation of church and state. Nor does it undermine secular government. The Government provides facilities and security for any group, either religious or non-religious. We can only complain when there is favouritism for any particular group.

This is the confusion of secular with secularism. It is the confusion of secularist philosophy with secular government. Secular means this age – of this world. We have a government that is secular, i.e. relating to the things of this age – hospitals, building, roads, economy and so on.

Secularism is the religious philosophy, which teaches that there is no other age or world than this one.

The secularists wish to impose atheistic belief on society through government. They are the ones who do not believe in the separation of church and state. They try to use government to enforce their viewpoint. Thus they oppose the normal secular support that is given to Roman Catholics.

There are some valid points in the above quote but there is something wrong with the underlying ideas, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Can any tell me what Jensen has got wrong here?

Dr Who makes more sense than the Bible

One last thing, did anyone watch Good News Week last night? If you missed it you can watch the video here (episode 13, 122Mb). Towards the end of the show [40 min mark] they were talking about Dr Who and Paul said:

… because even a two hearted time travelling alien who lives in a dimension warping  [police] phone box makes more sense than the bible.

I cacked myself laughing 😆 I’ve just watched that bit again, trying to transcribe the above quote, now I’m typing this with a big smirk on my face. The article in question that GNW were discussing is:

The church is ailing – send for Dr Who

There’s another blog in that article alone, but I think I’ve done enough for today.

Last but not least – Five points to anyone who can make a good sentence from my headline.

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It’s Official!

I am now officially a member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA), the Secular Party of Australia (SPA) and the Australian Skeptics (AS). I thought I should ‘put my money where my mouth is’ after complaining how difficult it is for atheists to be seen as a collective group. A group that deserves to be heard as much as any other group, if not more so than some.

If 15,000 [1] Exclusive Brethren can get an audience with the PM (well the old one, the new PM is at least smart enough to think they are just a dangerous cult) then 3,700,000 [2] atheists ought to be able to.

The problem has always been that whilst 18% of the population state they have no religion only a very small percentage of those actually belong to any recognised secular organisation [3]. Whilst there are a few secular organisations that do get involved in politics and social issues, I have not seen them have much of an impact so far [4]. It will be interesting to see how the Secular Party goes [5].

It would be nice to have some sort of national secular conference at which delegates from all of the various organisations could get together and determine a common course of action and perhaps an overall governing body [6]. I understand the idea of having one body representing everyone is quite opposite to what atheists often aspire to (a bit too much like the pope and the catholic church). I’m thinking more of a committee, comprised of members of all the interested parties, who present arguments and ideas from their individual organisations. This committee could be the representative face to the government, media and other interested parties. What are your opinions on this idea?

Whilst the sceptics, atheists, humanists, etc have mostly common ideals there are some differences in how they do business and what their ultimate goals are. Whilst atheists can also be sceptics and humanists, humanists can be sceptics and atheists, etc, it doesn’t necessarily follow that each person wants to identify as such. So we have lots of people with similar ideals but under different banners (much like the Christians with their Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists etc). However, even the disparate religious groups have been known to get together to promote a common front to the wider community, so why shouldn’t the various non-religious groups do likewise?

I may be wrong or misinformed with some of these assumptions, after all, I’m fairly new to all this. I’ve only ben blogging for about 6 months (and not much lately, apologies all) and I’ve only just joined the AFA, SPA and AS, so there is still a learning curve for me. I’m aware from their web sites that groups like the Humanist Society (HS) and Australian Skeptics have done some good things in the past, and hope that this will continue. I just wonder if more could be done if somehow we banded together?

Until I can get definite numbers of the members of each of these (AFA, SPA, AS, HS, etc) organisations, I have to wonder how many people are members of these and similar organisations. Is there some innate ideal atheists have that prevent them from joining an organisation? Or is it that no one organisation covers their ideals and, unlike myself, they don’t want to join multiple organisations?  

So, I’ve ben working on this post for a several days and mention it to the OH [7] last night. She reckons I’m a ‘Born Again Atheist’ TM and that’s partly because I used to be  a born again Christian. It’s like how some ex-smokers are the most vocal in the anti-smoking lobby. The OH reckons that because I was accustomed to belonging to something (the church) that I am now more prone to want to belong to something else (an atheist organisation e.g: AFA). We discussed how people who have always been atheists are more likely to not know, or not care, about any atheist organisations. They also have little or no interest in joining one. How many “always been an atheist but not really thought about it” atheists are there? I’m guessing the vast majority of the 3.7M people who stated, in the 2006 census, they had no religion .

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s all about the numbers. To be heard you need to prove you have the numbers behind you. So whilst there maybe  3.7M atheists (or 6.2M if you count the undecided) in Australia, is there any one secular organisation that can claim more than 15,000 members? Should secular organisations be targeting the silent atheists more? If so, how could we do this?

I hope to be able to provide some answers and a more positive impact in the future. I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time if you have any answers to my questions I’d like to hear them.

FOOTNOTES:
  1. From Radio National – Elusive Exclusive Brethren
  2. Rounded number, based on 2006 Census figures of 18% of 20,700,000.
  3. Anecdotal. If anyone has access to, or knows where I could find them, the numbers of members of any of the non-religious groups I’d be interested to see them.
  4. I have not been able to find much data on what ‘wins’ any atheist/secular/skeptic/humanist organisation has had. I don’t recall seeing any headline in the media along the lines “AFA succeeds in ridding schools of religious instruction”.
    Perhaps I haven’t been looking hard enough?
  5. Last I heard the Secular Party still doesn’t have enough members to be classed as a political party.
  6. Perhaps they already have, if so they’ve kept it fairly quiet.
  7. OH = Other Half; that is, my lovely wife.

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Activist Toolkit

 

Whilst it is American based, and fairly old, it looks like there might be some useful information here to combat the religious right.

Anyone seen anything similar, but more recent?

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