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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