A south-east Queensland parent has expressed concerns to us regarding a government funded state school chaplain promoting and conducting evangelical activities in the school hall during the July 2017 break. During the same break, similar evangelical activities were being promoted and conducted by federally funded chaplains at several other state schools across Queensland.
The activity in question is an international evangelical program known as Kidsgames, a project of the Queensland children’s ministry network in partnership with Scripture Union Queensland.
Kidsgames was promoted by the government funded public school chaplain within the school newsletter throughout June 2017 as an adventure activity to be held across three days in the school hall. It suggests there will be “Lots of fun and laughter as we learn about Paul’s journey through the bible and to be the best.”
Two of the three main focus values are: “Perseverance – when I mess things up I can have a new start. God forgives me and I can forgive others.” and “Confidence in God – God will never let us down, he sees the big picture and his plan is always good.”
While not ever having been recognised within the Queensland education act, since the 1980s chaplains have gained right of entry into Queensland state schools initially via the act’s religious instruction provisions, as evidenced by this policy statement:
Representatives of religious denominations and societies and others involved in presenting right-of-entry religious instruction programs (including state school chaplains, school staff, reserves, and visiting teachers/speakers/bands/music groups and helpers) must be accredited and approved to provide religious instruction in Queensland state schools.
As described in more detail within the above video, such evangelising and proselytising is blatantly in breach of Education Queensland chaplain guidelines:
Chaplains and student welfare workers must not be involved in any of the following:
Attempting to convert students to a religion by proselytising/evangelising through activities such as:
Coercing students to attend activities that have a religious/spiritual component
Initiating faith discussions with a view to coercing or manipulating students to a particular view or belief
Using other methods such as social media, for example, blogs and Facebook, or newsletters and school websites, to proselytise/evangelise to students within their school
Furthermore, such evangelical practices would appear to be in serious breach of the human rights of children, parents, and caregivers as established by Article 18.3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides:
“..the freedom from coercion to have or to adopt a religion or belief”.
This case is typical of ongoing reports we receive from parents across Australia, which describe inappropriate activities being carried out by commonwealth funded public school chaplains.
We will seek comment from Education Queensland regarding these unsatisfactory circumstances via open correspondence at the this website.