The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

A chaplain is the last thing they need

There are many things wrong with the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), but I find one issue in particular extremely troubling – what advice would a chaplain give to a teenager who is confused about their sexuality?

The issue was raised late last week by Labor Senator Gavin Marshall, but was also discussed earlier in the week on the letters page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

An article in Saturday’s Herald regarding the NSCP in general, and an imminent High Court challenge to its consitutional legitimancy in particular, resulted in this letter to the editor from Col:

Many parents would be happy to see more resources devoted to issues such as stress management, anger management, grief management and emotional support in general, but do not understand why a religious background is a prerequisite for the providers of that support.

Hard to argue with that… but Barbara thought she’d have a go anyway:

Jesus’s preaching was for a society in which all people, regardless of race, creed or age, loved and respected each other; were non-judgmental, sharing and caring. Those who have committed their lives to these principles are ideally suited to provide the services under the job description of school chaplain. It seems the difficulty [Col] … has in understanding why a religious background is the prerequisite for this role is more a lack of acceptance of the concept of unconditional love.

Barbara’s letter required several readings, mostly just to ensure it really was irony-free, but also to figure out which of her bone-headed platitudes to attack first. In the end, I settled on this (which, happily, was also published):

Conspicuously absent from [Barbara’s] umbrella of non-judgment is sexual orientation. I shudder to think how the Christian version of “unconditional” love will be employed by a chaplain confronted with a confused and anxious homosexual teenager.

To wit:

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-19 year olds, accounting for 20% and 13% of all deaths for males and females respectively (Source).
  • In a 1997 survey, nearly 30% of same-sex attracted youth reported that they had experienced abuse as a result of their sexuality, with nearly 70% experiencing the abuse at school (Source).
  • Another survey showed that young gay men are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Source).
  • Over 98% of school chaplains in Australia are Christians (Source).
  • Christians think homosexuality is wrong, in accordance with the divinely-inspired word of god (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4), Wikipedia, and this apocalyptic old bigot.

The dangers of having this type of “unconditional” love let loose on vulnerable, confused teenagers should be obvious. Or, perhaps not, if Robin’s letter (which appeared the next day) is anything to go by:

It’s obvious [Barbara] means well but, apart from the fact that being a non-judgmental, caring person is not solely the province of committed Christians, is the concept of non-conditional love the best starting point for constructively helping troubled students?

Well, no, Robin, that would be a psychology degree.

Category: Bad, Homophobia, Politics, Religion


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