School chaplaincy debate ignores what ‘secular’ actually is

According to The Conversation, despite recent calls for its elimination and the High Court (again) finding that it was funded unconstitutionally, the Abbott government announced this week that it would continue its school chaplaincy program by funnelling money to the states.

However, debate about the school chaplaincy program has missed the mark. It has been informed by deficient understandings of what “secular” means, both in general and in the Australian context.

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Anger over school prayer group ban

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According to The Age, Lunchtime prayer and bible study groups run by teachers or volunteers have been banned at state schools in Victoria under a ministerial directive.

The new policy has angered Christian groups who say it could be in breach of human rights and religious freedom.

The ban, which has taken many by surprise, came into effect on July 14, as part of changes to the controversial special religious instruction requirements.

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Australian jihadists, and their plea for others to join Middle East terror groups

According to Daily MailDisturbing images and recruitment messages posted on the social media accounts of two notorious Australian jihadists reveal a horrifying glimpse into Islamic extremist groups fighting in Iraq and Syria.

Australian radical Khaled Sharrouf issued the call-to-arms on Twitter.

He Said: 'come and be part of what we have dreamt... for decades'.

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Christians set to become a minority in Australia

EASTER Sunday may be one of the most important Christian celebrations, but for many Australians it will just be about chocolate.

According to Northern Star, the proportion of Australians who identify as Christian is falling fast, down over 8% points in the last two years.

And if the current trend was to continue, Christians will soon be in the minority in Australia, the latest research from Roy Morgan shows.

In late 2011, Christians outnumbered the non-religious by more than two to one with  60.9% of Australians  (11.4 million) identifying as Christian compared with 29.2% (5.5 million) who said they had no religious affiliation.

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The history of education, religion and the state in Australia

Last week, the High Court ruled against the current funding model of the federal government’s controversial school chaplaincy program. It's just the latest episode in a debate over education, religion and the state that goes back to the colonial era, writes Keri Phillips.

There are two strands to the dispute over education, religion and funding. The first concerns the government funding of private schools, almost all of which are run by or affiliated with religious organisations. The second concerns the place of religious instruction in public schools. Both have been the subject of referenda and legal challenges. The relationship between religion, education and the state has been controversial since the states began introducing compulsory public schooling in the second half of the 19th century. Until then, schools had been largely run by the churches and paid for by the government.

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