The sophistry from Access ministries has entered a new phase. They have been through the stage of initial panic at being unmasked as filthy little liars and thieves, and then the damage control of denial – lying about telling lies. Then there was a mop up phase of lesser, but no more forgivable, deceptions where public perception could still be manipulated into a more positive light. Now Access Ministries is falling into a holding pattern to ride the fiasco out utilising what can only be described as Meccano set propaganda – deceptive, yet plausible, individual units of deliberately false information that can endlessly be reassembled in new configurations to create an illusion of a new article when in reality its just another reiteration of what has already been said, and eviscerated as nonsense. All in the hope that the public digest it uncritically the nth time around.
The latest steaming cow pat has been deposited for our consumption courtesy of The Australian, and disinterested, objective commentator Ian Harper –
is a board member of Access Ministries, which employs school chaplains and co-ordinates volunteers in Christian religious instruction in Victorian state schools.
This piece does rise above the common tripe of folks like Nick Tuohy, hence it being in The Australian and not Online Opinion, but nevertheless it is still tripe that brings absolutely nothing new to the table.
Ian Harper, The Australian – May 26, 2011 12:00 AM
RELIGION in schools is a touchy subject and so it helps to be clear about definitions and categories. In making his case against chaplains in government schools, Christopher Bantick (“Chaplaincy program participants beyond a prayer“, The Weekend Australian, May 21-22) begins with a category confusion.
Chaplains funded by the federal government’s National Schools Chaplaincy Program, for which additional funding was announced in the budget this month, are appointed to provide pastoral care to students. Chaplains do not teach religion in schools. Religious instruction in government schools is entirely separate from chaplaincy. Nor are school chaplains necessarily Christian. Under NSCP guidelines, schools and their communities determine the “role, faith and/or denomination of the chaplain”.
If the person selected is not Christian, then an alternative title such as imam, rabbi, lay leader or religious worker may be used instead of chaplain.
As part of their role, chaplains are trained to help students explore their spirituality and to offer guidance on religious and ethical matters, if requested.
A chaplain is therefore distinct from a secular pastoral care worker, although the NSCP will fund secular counsellors and youth workers if no suitable chaplain can be identified.
Extended intro to give you the feel. Awesome. Did you understand all that? Neither did I. Harper probably doesn’t either – and that is the whole point. This is what distinguishes this tripe from all of the tripe preceding it. Before plunging head first into the raw deception, we are treated to this foreplay of confusion and disorientation to muddy the waters and leave the reader unsure of which way is up. This is a miasma of irrelevant nuances of the terminology in the debate – but it is still the same sleight of hand, a cheap parlour trick and its only purpose is that which all of the apologists ultimately strive for – to distract.
Job done, with the reader hopefully left floundering, Harper can then proceed to pad out the rest of the article with the same old fiddled Meccano parts in the hope of appearing new. So lets just pull it apart into its component pieces and blow away all of the noxious and deliberate fog –
Bantick seems to think that the NSCP is some sort of threat to pluralism. On the contrary, the NSCP allows schools to choose the faith orientation of their chaplain or to have no such person on the premises if they prefer.
What complete and utter bollocks, and Harper knows it. This deception is propped up by the marketing concoctions labeled as “research” commissioned from Social Compass and Edith Cowan Univerisity. Most schools do have a choice yes – an untrained, probable maniac, from Access or didley squat and loss of funding. This is the leading question manipulation that creates such fraudulently high program approval numbers. Schools starved and screaming for support services will find even Access to be better than nothing. “Nothing” fails to really be an “option” anyone would take. It’s like saying poor families choose to be poor. And as for having a choice of faiths… Who is supposed to believe this again? This is part of the grand deception that Access is both embraced and loved by the schools they serve, “so why do those cruel secularists keep saying bad things about us?”
As to the issue of chaplains proselytising students, the NSCP guidelines are completely transparent: “It is not the purpose of chaplaincy services to bring about or encourage commitment to any set of beliefs.”
Chaplains are answerable to their school principals, the wider school community and to their employing organisations. The school principals and employing organisations are in turn answerable to state and federal education authorities.
There is ample scrutiny of school chaplaincy, contrary to Bantick’s claim of “no vetting, inspection, assessment or review”.
This leaves the realm of propaganda and rejoins that of the black lie which is rubbed in with –
There is an automatic check on what is said and done in SRI classes because it is said and done in front of teaching staff, who have ready access to school principals as well as the children’s parents.
There is no “automatic check on what is said and done in SRI classes”. Access Ministries is immortalised on tape that they will willingly, knowingly and premeditately seek to circumvent these “checks” in the quest for disciples – they hold themselves to be above any such “checks” and there is no shortage parents that have come forth and stated that these “checks” actually check nothing. Repetition of Evonne Paddison’s same remorseless falsehood. Access Ministries answer to no one other than their own agenda. That this lie can be repeated so casually and with such repetition shows Access simply cannot be trusted and will exploit any window of opportunity to pursue their “mission” with complete contempt for legal obligations and parents’ wishes.
There is deep irony in the push for religion to be ousted from government schools in the name of pluralism. Religious faith in its many forms thrives in our community and governments at both state and federal level know it.
Spare me. I don’t know where we could have possibly gotten the idea that a charismatic monoculture was the order of the day with Access CRE – and not pluralist inclusivity. Let’s forget the obvious deceptions here and focus instead on the mindlessly repeated slander – that to protest Access Ministries is to be anti-religion and want Stalinist style bans on religion all together. This is part of the big picture of smearing secular opposition as christ-hating, satan worshipping fascists that hate children. To repeat for the 1,00oth time –
- No one (outside of a minority on anti-theists as deranged as Access itself) is calling for a complete ban on religion
- Similarly, no one is calling for a complete ban on religious education. Indoctrinational “education”, yes – not wanted, get out. Open, inclusive, non-ostracising comparative religious education, no problem whatsoever, come on in.
This vile play is the wedge that Access want to drive into the ground and entrench an “us” and “them” divide between the true believers of the non-representative charismatic christianity from the snake handling, young earth creationist end of town and the forces of evil – meaning anyone who objects. That’s you, me and absolute treacherous monsters like Reverends Noone and Porter.
Of course, no Access Ministries snake oil is ever complete without something like the closing line –
They [Access supporters] stand against a narrow-minded secularism that denigrates all world views apart from its own.
This is just the old standard ad hominem and non sequitur nonsense sound bite akin to “fundamentalist atheist”, “militant secularist”, “christophobes” etc. Loaded gibberish curse words, again underscoring how those who protest are one-eyed, jesus hating fanatics. The most mind-boggling thing is the implication from the slander that Access are somehow “open-minded”. Beggars belief.
So this is how the Access propaganda mill functions. There is not that much to it when you realise that all of it is available in kit form, off-the-shelf, for pretty much anyone to slap together in a new permutation that can claim to be adding something new to the discussion. It doesn’t. In computer science, this is called modular programming, where the same pieces of code can get called to do repeat operations. In engineering, this is called unit operations, where standard components (pumps, valves etc.) get pulled of a shelf to do the same job in different configurations. In Access Ministries speak, this is called SOB (Same Old Bullshit) – recycle, reuse, regurgitate. Rely on user stupidity to not see the fact that it’s all a copy of a copy of a copy. But there is nothing new here. Like all things Access, this is just another deception from just another fraud.