Queensland father Ron Williams challenged the Scchol Chaplaincy Program a few years ago on the grounds that it violated religious freedom regulations in the constitution, and that it exceeded Commonwealth funding powers. Now the High Court has agreed that the Program is indeed constitutionally invalid. But it did so only on the basis that it exceeded Commonwealth funding powers, and rejected the notion that it impacted on freedom of religion :
The constitution says, ”no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth” and Mr Williams had argued that the definition of school chaplains included a ”religious test” for office.
But the court found that school chaplains were not Commonwealth employees, but rather were engaged by an external organisation, Scripture Union Queensland, and the Commonwealth did not enter into contractual or other arrangements with the chaplains.
The zealots and proselytisers from Scripture Union Queensland and
Jimmy and the Homophobes the Australian Christian Lobby have already pounced on this, and branded the decision a “technicality” that would not stop the Chaplaincy Program, but merely required a new funding model from the government.
So it’s kind of a win, but not really, and as far as I’m concerned, a win entirely for the wrong reasons. The fact remains that the government may fund a religious organisation to send missionaries into our public schools who aim to make disciples for their imaginary friend.