ACL reaches into intimidate the schools: Gay Pride not OK

I keep tabs on the ACL because it believes that the government should be run according to its values and it uses a religious justification for its values.  I don’t normally post on topics of sexual orientation, but since this one is about how religious groups propose to influence the state schools it fits with our topic:  religion in schools.

The ACL today attacked a program to keep schools safe and an initiative that members of the Rainbow Network, Safe Schools Coalition Victoria took to invite schools to march with them (and subversives like the Victoria Police see here for the lurid display of men wearing dresses).

The ACL seems to want us to believe that they don’t want kids beaten up for being gay, but they don’t want any gay people being celebrated either.  Especially masses of them marching in public places where the police are marching too.  

There are however people with the moral courage to advocate for gay kids … and it should be with some gratitude that we look on the work of people like Roz Ward, who organizes efforts to help schools keep kids safe.  Because the ACL can’t seem to say it, I will.

God Bless Roz Ward

 

Now it turns out that the ACL has its own Ward, Rob Ward.  Rob Ward is in charge of countering Roz Ward’s work to protect gay kids, in fact, if there is an issue where someone is speaking out against gay people in Victoria having fair go, you can bet that Rob Ward is close at hand.  
So on one hand we have Roz Ward, helping kids, especially kids struggling to find a place in the world, and we have Rob Ward wanting to shove everyone back in the closet so he can keep a world where being gay is treated like a disorder and people look to ancient jewish sanitary codes to decide whether or not to disown and demean their children.

This is Rob Ward’s latest contribution to his effort:

 

Schools should not be used to recruit kids to ‘gay pride’ march

MEDIA RELEASE

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today responded to a call by the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) for schools to bring children along to a gay pride event.

“All schools should be safe schools, but using Government funding to persuade children to attend a ‘gay pride’ march is not how our tax dollars should be spent,” according to ACL’s Victorian Director Rob Ward.

 “Teachers taking students along to this kind of event is outside the purposes for which schools exist.  Educating students should be the priority not promoting alternative lifestyles.

“There is no place for bullying in our schools, whatever the motivation, however this call by SSCV demonstrates how one group can push an ideological agenda using government funding.”

Mr Ward said so called ‘gay pride’ marches were no place for young children as they were often sexually explicit and contained content inappropriate for children. 

Mr Ward also questioned the use of a LaTrobe University letterhead to write to schools seeking to recruit children to the march.

“We call upon the new Baillieu government to rein in funding for groups like SSCV and instead promote programs that address bullying in a wider context, teaching respect and understanding across the whole school system.”

 

Of course the ACL doesn’t want to own any of the damage that it causes by promoting values which maintain that it is wrong to be gay.  Let’s be clear though that the damage is real, and the ACL should offend Christians so much that they stand up for Roz, find ways to promote her work, and tell Rob to get lost.

The subtext of Rob Ward’s call to eliminate Roz is that gays are bad, but what he says is that “the content of the Pride March is not for kids because it is sexually explicit”.  This is a bit like saying Torquay is not for kids because it is sexually explicit.  Yes Rob, there is sex in the world.  Even you arrived here though a disgusting thing called “sex” … shudder.

The ACL is a fear monger.  You can see the inappropriateness here:

http://www.pridemarch.com.au/photo_gallery/index.htm

and here:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/pridemarchvic/pool/with/3246872407/

Make sure to note the long lines of uniformed police officers marching IN THE PARADE … gosh they look happy.  Its hard to tell who is gay and who isn’t.  Looking at these photos really lays bare the hatred and mean spirited nature of the ACL … here is a family event, attended by public servants and community leaders and because it is “unapologetic” in its defense of the equality and esteem which our society shows gay citizens, the ACL makes demands that our Government condemn it. 

Yes Rob Ward, schools should be “used” to promote the interests of our citizens and community members, and there is nothing wrong whatsoever with a group like this inviting people to join them in St. Kilda to celebrate this.  Yes it is OK for them to use the letterhead of LaTrobe, and it is OK for them to invite “children” though their network of people who are striving to counter the fear and recrimination that the ACL is advocating though press releases like this.  It is especially fitting that as part of the schools focus on creating a safe environment.  

Hopefully Ted Baillieu will see this for what it is, a case of religiously motivated bigotry, that when viewed in relation to the issue of gay teen suicides … will be received for the hateful bashing that it really is.  

 

 

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How does Tim Mander get away with this?

There is another thing that needs to be said about the article which appeared in the American evangelical magazine, “Christianity Today” about Australia’s Chaplaincy program.

Tim Mander, who is CEO of Scripture Union Queensland, and a direct recipient of over 20% of the total program’s $437 Million Dollar largess, has this to say:

“Many school principals are saying they want pastoral care in their schools,” said Tim Mander, ceo of Scripture Union Queensland, one of the major suppliers of chaplains to schools in Queensland, which has more school chaplains than any other state. “In most cases, chaplains are the first point of contact for students with social, spiritual, emotional and sometimes physical needs. Principals and teachers agree that students are more comfortable approaching their chaplain, who is a non-authority figure in the school, than other adults in the school community.”

First off, it bears asking if this is true.  Do we have a school system where “authority” is a deterrent to communication and interaction between teachers, administrators and the children in the school.

Mander, who it should be noted is a retired Rugby League referee plays into a stereotype that dismisses teachers and principals as “authority”, and he promotes the idea that “authority” conflicts with understanding and effectiveness.  In Mander’s view, authority, with its responsibility to punish, can not also be caring or effective.  It is as Pink Floyd said, “Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone”.  

Mander is continually saying what “Teachers and Principals” want.  But if you listen to what the representatives of these professionals say, you hear that they don’t want this at all.  

Mander’s remedy is of course a solution that benefits his institution, a corps of “non authority” figures, who he hires and manages.  This is a classic rort.

Has anyone stopped to think how one staffs a schools with adults who are not seen as “authority”?

Set aside for a moment the lie that Mander is telling, and accept that the Chappies are not seen as “authority figures” or as Mander really means it, are better at wielding authority than teachers and principals.  

It is amazing that the teachers and principals, and the professional youth counselors in Australia put up with this right wing assault because what he is really saying is that they are ineffective.  He is saying that because the school system can not effectively take care of kids, his staff should be hired to minister to them.  His ministry, he claims, is neutral, and explicitly safer for the kids than what the state, by comparison can provide. By implication, Mander is saying then, that schools aren’t safe and the people who are in charge of the schools and in charge of education aren’t effective.

For whatever reason, the people in charge of the schools – Peter Garrett in this case seem to see no conflict with this.   


Peter Garrett seems to agree with Mander, students not comfortable with authority

Continually in this debate the school Principals and teachers are mute, or at best marginalized to the role of grumbling.  It is as if Australia no longer believes in effective state schools.  

There is also something deeply dismissive of the importance of authority in schools, and the role of authority in society.  A society which disrespects authority, and feels that authority is there to punish and not to create an environment where all prosper is a society headed for trouble, and if you look at the social indicators in places which have high levels of evangelical christianity, vs the places where you have low rates, you see exactly this pattern.  

There are rules and authority in school for good reason, the children in the school are expected to follow those rules, they exist for order, respect for others, and the importance of the job of education.  To suggest that the maintenance of these rules interferes with children’s emotional, spiritual and sometimes “physical” needs.

Mander’s self promotion should be an invitation for rebuke, not reward, from Minister Garrett, who should by now know the dangers of creating incentives for people to distort the system.  Peter, the Chaplaincy is the Pink Batts of Faith 

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Flagship Evangelical Magazine says Atheist Gillard wants Chaplains #NSCP

Christianity Today, a leading tone setting magazine in America for the Christian Right, profiles the plum set up that Evangelicals in Australia have managed to create by getting the Commonwealth to direct hundreds of Millions of dollars though Evangelical Faith Organizations to hire and staff Chaplains in the Government run schools.

As far as organizational strategy goes, Australia’s Evangelicals are world leaders in using state support for their mission.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/december/21.16.html

The new wave of Parachurch youth service vendors such as Scripture Union, YouthCARE, Genr8, ACCESS Ministry – are all basically flying under the radar, carefully positioning themselves as being there to help kids.  

It is amazing that the teachers and principals put up with this … as we’ve shown time and time again, this is clearly seen as a great way to “reach kids” with a particularly shallow evangelical message.

So far, the only serious challenge to the program has come from the Australian Psychological Society.  The advocates of Chaplaincy, though have landed on a message fit for public consumption:

Rebekah Robinson, a primary school chaplain in Brisbane, Queensland, says that on genuine mental health issues, she and other chaplains are trained to “refer, refer, refer,” generally to the principal. Much of a chaplain’s job, she says, is not under a counselor’s purview.

“You can’t tie up a professional psychologist on a professional psychologist’s wage with, ‘He stole my pencil and I want it back.’ “

So there you have it, Australia has a 437 million dollar program, staffed by evangelicals, administered by evangelicals, and the biggest single source of income for parachurches in Australia, is there because religious guidance is needed to help kids figure out not to steal each other’s pencils.  

Who owns the pencil that is writing the check however isn’t a question … the Commonwealth is funding religious organizations to do what they claim is a non religious program.

If you believe that this is really not about religion, but about keeping pencil ownership from getting murky, you might want to Join Scripture Union’s “PrayPal” … 

Tassie is a bit behind the curve, and hasn’t yet gotten the memo that you can’t brag about this kind of thing:

http://www.schoolssundaytas.org.au/documents/i_want_to_be_a_missionary.pdf

 


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War on Christmas comes to Victoria Public Schools

Well it is Christmas time again and you know what that means:  War.

One of the recent wedge issues for the Religious Right is to take offence at any and all attempts to conduct the public’s business around the winter holidays (which in OZ are the summer holidays, in a more inclusive and broader spirit.  In America this is called “The War on Christmas”.  I’ve often wondered how this war is carried on in countries like Sweden where the holiday is not even called “Christmas” … in the Nordic countries the word “Jul” is used … instead of Christmas … you know there was a culture before the baby Jesus came to town.  I wonder what the Religious Right does with itself in Denmark?  

Don’t worry Victoria, since you are in an English speaking country you can have your war too.  After all where did Rupert Murdoch unwrap his gifts when he was just a lad?  

The Murdoch Papers are doing their part castigating “bureaucrats” who offend the religious right.  

What needs to be pointed out is just how “non traditional” and absurd the displays among the “Christiantists” can get.   This for example was how some Christianists in Geelong imagined it would be nice to celebrate Easter. Easter isn’t about bunnies and eggs, it is about human sacrifice … see children, don’t look away:

This was so offensive to the local shop keepers selling painted eggs, that they were quite happy to see the police shut this stunt down. There was feigned indignation that it was some kind of oppression to limit the simulation of bloody torture of a live human on a public street in Geelong … the ACL however does not want any violent video games.  You know, kids and violence etc … 

In a gesture of the fun to come, one of Ted Ballieu’s first acts of state was to “caution” Principals in Victoria against “political correctness”.

The Herald Sun ran its Editorial:

 

TED Baillieu may have brought back Christmas for thousands of Victoria’s schoolchildren.

Nativity scenes and children singing carols and exchanging cards could once again be part of Christmas celebrations at Victorian schools.

Why not? Australia is a mostly Christian country and the political correctness that banned Christmas at schools should be regarded as the ghost of Christmas past.

Children do not have to take part and Mr Baillieu surely offends no one by asking principals to take “a reasonable and commonsense approach”.

 

The Premier has brought back a festive spirit in asking for children to “have the opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasures of Christmas”. 

We’ve heard reports from Victoria schools that the volunteer organizers of ACCESS MINISTRY (which runs Missions in Victorian State Schools) are driving things much further toward “Christianism” rather than the traditional Christmas program which, as all educated people (should) know is really a blend of older European traditions (eg. the Christmas Tree) and are leading the Christmas celebrations toward strains of fundamentalist evangelism.

For you parents out there, please alert us to any examples (good and bad) of things happening in the schools.  It is totally appropriate for Principals to teach the meaning of Christmas as something far richer and interesting than the narrow evangelical “just about Jesus” view of the religious right – and there are a range of traditional songs which are very light on Jesus such as “Jingle Bells”.  To combat this and drive the point home, what we see are Christianist activists choosing non traditional more “hard core” songs about salvation and explicit belief rather than “seasonal joy” or “celebration”.  

As we’ve seen all over Australia, as Churches loose moderate members, the “hard line” activists move in – for example, instead of the traditional symbolism of dignified ecclesiastic architecture being itself a statement of purpose and meaning – the Christianits, afraid that people won’t get their message … or afraid that their message is not being stated stridently enough, resort to tawdry banners with in your face slogans as if they are selling something.  Here is an example noted on a Camberwell Church:  http://statereligionvic.posterous.com/why-the-aggressive-streak-in-the-church

It is absurd to take the dignified facade of a beautiful building and hang a cheap plastic banner off it but that is where this is going in the world of “Cartoon Christianity”.  Question this nonsense and the counter punch comes back:  don’t be politically correct!  

Again here we see a nativity scene dominated by a huge banner … not that they are going to use Latin either … Gloria in excelsis Deo” traditional Latin, isn’t good enough for todays ALLCAPS type Christians, as they say in the USA, if English was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me.  

The problem is that none of what this “Christianist” movement is about is “tradition” in the sense of being part of a tradition.  It is merely like the cheap plastic sign, something recently tacked on by small minded shallow thinkers who are destroying tradition and trying to deny the legitimate interests of others who come from other traditions.

We hope that in addition to common sense, that teachers and principals will actually educate children about “Christmas” – which would mean telling them much more about Christmas than Cartoon Christians want to hear.   

Keep us posted if you hear particularly “nontraditional” expressions in Victorian schools … groups such as the nutters who put on the “Geelong Jesus” stunt are openly welcome to run the CRE program at any school and the programs and directions are often far more extreme that “common sense” would dictate.  You know they have gone too far when they Scare the Children. 

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Access Ministry: Toughest time in history to be a kid, more shameless self promotion.

What I want to know is when the Department of Education is going to put a stop to campaign of terror that ACCESS MINISTRY is waging against Victoria’s Schools and Victoria’s Children with its constant stream of propaganda in service of ITSELF.

ACCESS MINISTRY is the state approved vehicle for Christian Religion in State Schools, originally founded to remove the principle of secularism from Victoria’s education system it today has found fertile fields convincing the state that it has some special insight into how to help children in crisis and can provide a service to help the suffering children are experiencing in its overwhelmed and dire hell holes called “state schools”.

Chaplains, unlike teachers, guidance counselors and other mere employees do amazing things which ACCESS claims are worth your charity … somehow, chaplains work all the time, they care about kids, they simply see things others can’t and they have that special something that comes from being a committed Christian.  They will feed the kids in the morning, keeping a watchful eye out for signs of suicide, then they will deal with family breakdown, facebook bullies, and coach the basketball team.  Who else could do all these things?  Definitely not “state employees” … those people are “uncommitted”.

If I was a teacher, administrator or politician, I’d be beside myself with this propaganda.  Not only is it insulting to the professionals who bothered to get a degree and who show up every day and work in vital capacity, to claim that chaplains somehow can do things they can’t (at a price they won’t) … it is simply a dishonest scare campaign.

ACCESS is quite happy to use “fantasy” scenes to paint the most dire feeling, which tells you something about them.  This time they’ve decided to go with the “it’s tougher to be a kid today than any time in history”.


 One wonders, have these people even a passing knowledge of history?  Who in their right mind could look down upon modern Australia and say, yup, this is the “worst time ever to be a child” … how will the children ever survive smartphones and the internet?  One suspects that the person who thought up this little appeal was not a student of Dickens.  For the record, BEFORE we had “Secular, Compulsory and Free” public education you could enjoy childhood like this which by the way was COMPLETELY compatible with “Judeo Christian Values” … apparently there is no commandment to “send your kids to school”. 


This is the kind of sentimental nostalgia for a non existent past that marks the religious right.  “If we could only go back to the good old days” things would be better.

I’ve pasted the whole appeal below, but I’d like to point out a few key passages that demonstrate this group’s hostility to the idea of secular schools … and the professionals that run them.

It could be Josh, wrestling with spiritual questions because he has been savagely mocked for his awakening faith in God.

This line shows the writers basic bias toward secular society as a place inherently unwelcoming to religion and the kind of “lord of the flies” view of pagan children who might be “awakened” by the labors of the Chaplaincy … if only the other savage children don’t beat them for looking heavenward all the time.

Teachers however are a source of specific rebuke by ACCESS: 

Teachers too rely on their chaplain. Grace stops by, distraught because her friend is dying in hospital. It took her a long time to accept the chaplain, but even the most cynical non-Christian needs a shoulder when tragedy strikes.

ACCESS knows that the teachers unions are hostile to the concept of Chaplaincy, and this little dig shows it.  Chaplains are hired on confessional faith terms, whereas one of the core commitments of the secular schools are to hold jobs open to all regardless of their faith.  Teachers in ACCESS Ministry’s eyes are more often than not, “cynical non-Christians” … who of course when hit by life’s inevitable tragedies … need a non cynical Christian shoulder to cry on.

Sadly though as this little propaganda piece demonstrates, there are no “non cynical” Christians at ACCESS Ministry … this cynical propaganda is proof of that

Read the whole thing below the jump … if you feel an urge to cry, leave a comment on my shoulder … here is the link to the ACCESS site where you can leave a donation.


A day in the life of a chaplain

 

Our young ones need help
more than any time in history

Spend a day in the life

of an ACCESS ministries chaplain

you can change lives forever

 

It is a day that starts early, because many chaplains run a breakfast club. In a school community of 500 or more students, it is the chaplain who carefully watches for the hidden signs of a child in crisis.

It could be Josh, wrestling with spiritual questions because he has been savagely mocked for his awakening faith in God. There is Lachland, who can’t make friends. The chaplain knows just who to ask to get alongside this lonely boy.

Emily enjoys her chaplain as the one adult she can be friends with, playing handball together, or feeling safe to talk about deeper things because she knows it’s confidential.

The school day has barely begun when the chaplain is called because Ryan is acting up. Talking outside, it’s soon clear that behind his bitter words this boy feels his world is at an end. Perhaps his mum or dad has left. Maybe Ryan is kicking out at the paralysing terror of bullying. The chaplain may just listen or connect Ryan to the crisis services he needs.

Through the day other children come looking for their chaplain. Sarah is upset by vicious gossip on Facebook. Kevin’s feeling the pressure of his family’s money worries. Caitlin received a shocking text message. There are so many ways young hearts are breaking.

Teachers too rely on their chaplain. Grace stops by, distraught because her friend is dying in hospital. It took her a long time to accept the chaplain, but even the most cynical non-Christian needs a shoulder when tragedy strikes.

As well as personal support, the chaplain has several groups to run today. Some are uplifting, like the teens planning a charity event. Other groups are harder, like support sessions for strung-out parents.

If there is any way to help build a healthy community, the chaplain will be there – at BBQs, sausage sizzles, camps and festivals. Today it means coaching the basketball team straight after school.

Around 5pm the chaplain visits a local motor garage for petrol surprised to be served by Liam. Two years ago at school Liam was the worst-behaved teen in town. Today he is doing well as an apprentice mechanic, but he often thinks how his life might have been without his chaplain – he could easily have ended up in jail.

How crucial to the whole community this chaplain is, helping troubled young people make the transition to adult responsibility.

You can see how much this chaplain is needed, by families of young ones who are facing the hardest time in history.

In turn a chaplain needs your support and generosity.

Please donate today.

This is the hardest time in history to be young, but after a day in the life of an ACCESS ministrieschaplain you can take heart. The gift you send today will be changing lives forever.

 

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Stoner says don’t get ahead of Church: another example of historical ignorance

Sean Nichols writing in the SMH on the current legislative changes going on with the NSW Religious Education laws passes on this little gem from Andrew Stoner, who amazingly is former spokesman for education.  What is so amazing about it is that he doesn’t seem to recognize that the only reason that public education EXISTS in Australia is that once upon a time there were legislators who were willing to “get ahead of the Church”.

 


 

 

Asked for his position on ethics classes, Andrew Stoner, a former Coalition spokesman for education, said he was ”personally relaxed about them. However, the churches are not. And I think we need to take their concerns into account”.

He went on to say that he thought the quality of some scripture classes ”is not good” and there was a high dropout rate.

”I think in that circumstance some education in the principle of ethics is desirable for these people who are opting out,” he said.

”However, you will need to have the churches on side with you to achieve that. And it’s clear [Labor] haven’t been able to do that. And I, for one, regard churches as being an important part of our society, and I listen to them. If their concerns haven’t been resolved, I don’t think government should get ahead of that part of society.”

 

 

This is the tragedy of Australia … its current crop of so called “Liberal”  legislators seem to think that what the churches want is good for society and children and that for some reason they should take direction from clerics like George Pell and Peter Jensen, rather than listen to education experts like Phil Cam or Sue Knight.  

This is both pathetic and ignorant.  It shows that they don’t care enough about Australia to even learn their own history.  They are off on a new right wing tangent that simply echoes the fundamentalism that the right has used with such devastating results in America. 

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Open letter to Longstaff: Churches in NSW are a Squattocracy

Dear Simon, 

I wish you well in the debate tomorrow and wish I could be there.  

I have one thing I’d like to advance that I think is a key point of debate that I gravely fear is being overlooked.

It is this.

The law in NSW conveys a right to the child (and the child’s family) not to the church.  

It is totally improper to treat ICCOREIS as if they have standing.  There has been an inversion of policy and an assumption of rights, much as if someone simply moved onto your property and built a house without title and used it for so long that no one ever thought to ask them to produce a deed to the land.    

ICCOREIS IS TRESSPASSING.  

The church has no title to this hour.  They have no deed.  They have built ministry on property they don’t own.  We have every right to demand they remove their improvements or be bulldozed.    

The law was set up so that “children would not be prevented from getting religion” … and specifically the catholic children, who it was feared would be taught heresy by the orange.  

Now you are going to face down Robert Haddad … and I would be grateful if you’d bring a stake and garlic to drive though his grasping clerical designs.  

These youth ministries do NOT have rights.  Only the children and families do.

You were invited in by the P&C to solve a discrimination problem.  You have standing.  The group you represent IS being denied something.  The whole “don’t do anything while we teach” is wrong because they can not produce anyone who can say, I am being prevented from having what I have a right to.  

By rights, for the church to have ANY standing on this matter they should have to be representing children who claim that their religious freedoms are being abridged by the action of the state.  

No such children exist. 

It is totally inverted to consider that these youth ministries who are fighting you have ANY right to set policy in the schools.  The rights are there for the children, not for the church.  No one ever conveyed a right to the church, they assumed it, as surely as they stole it.

This hour they claim is theirs … is worth 3% of 9 Billion Dollars.  That is the total cost of the NSW schools system annual spend.  The Church is claiming they have a right to one hour a week.  That is worth 300 Million annually.  

No one seems to question if the taxpayers actually agreed to this?  They didn’t. 

On the other hand, the Church was given the freedom to establish its own schools.  Which it did.  Later they clawed back state support, which you can argue is another act of tolerance and fairness and generosity by the state.  

However, the state schools NEVER were established by negotiation with the church, it was out of consideration for the religious freedoms of the CHILDREN, that this provision exsits, not because the church has a prerogative.  

Please, I’ve never heard anyone say this.  

It is central to your claims.  You must not give away this hour to the church.  They have no right to it.  They do not represent anyone IN the school.  They represent the CHURCH … and the church simply has NO STANDING HERE.

Your opening move in the debate should be the same opening move that any good lawyer would make, get the whole thing tossed out because the plantiff has no standing.  That is always the first question a lawyer asks.  Do these appellants have standing.  Do they have the right to be here?  

In your case, the church has no standing.  

I admire your open mind, your generous spirit and your thoughtful outlook.  

Now, get the squatters off that land.

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