- The Federal Government’s National Schools Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program which in 2014 supports primary and secondary chaplains and welfare workers in 20 Geelong government schools with $600,000 of taxpayers money.
The privileged position of a theologically narrow Protestant organisation known as Access Ministries, which provides untrained volunteer teachers to provide Special Religious Instruction in many of Geelong’s government primary schools.These two examples of evangelical Christianity’s inroad into public education raise several concerns. Is Australia’s constitutional separation of church and state being compromised? And should taxpayers’ money be used to promote this kind of sectarian religion in government schools?
- Church properties in Geelong are not subject to Council rates. What arguments exist today to continue this 19th century privileged support of religious bodies?
- Council meetings generally begin with a prayer to a deity whose existence is unproved and is not believed in by a significant number of Geelong ratepayers.
- Some elected representatives in local, state and federal politics who act in accordance with their religious allegiances, beliefs and prejudices in opposition to what we believe to be the general well-being of society (e.g their opposition to contraception, sex education, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and employment of homosexuals, divorced people, etc. in taxpayer- funded religious institutions.)
If this all sounds rather negative, we should emphasise that we do commend religious groups in their campaigns for increased foreign aid to the underprivileged, for world peace, for climate change abatement, for aid to the homeless and destitute people in our community and other worthwhile projects which religious people are involved in. We acknowledge the positive as well as the negative role of religion in society. We respect religious peoples’ right to hold beliefs in the supernatural, but are always ready to promote a rational (non-religious) view of the universe and our place in it.