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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Talk about missing the point

If chaplains are there to give secular "advice" they don't need to be chaplains. They can be Youth Workers or something, if we assume that there is a level of giving advice to young people that falls short of "counselling"; so to talk about making sure that they are qualified as Youth Workers misses the point. People who are qualified in that way need not be ministers of religion or anything similar.

No matter how you cut it, even if there is a role for this kind of youth work in schools (which there may be for all I know), there is no reason for it to be performed by "chaplains". The government has got to stop trying to have this both ways.

4 comments:

Mindy said...

Is it that the advice must be secular or that they can't promote a particular religion over others? AFAIK they are there to talk to kids about religion but can't encourage them to join a particular church.

A Drunken Man said...

Spot on.

Russell Blackford said...

Garrett seemed to be denying that they were there to preach religion. I realise that it's possible to talk about religion in a scholarly way - as do sociologists or historians of religion for example - but that is clearly not a job for chaplains. So what is left?

The way Garrett spoke in the interview, they are not there to talk about religion at all but just to give some kind of advice with no religious content... which seems weird.

Darrick Lim said...

It's naive to expect Christian chaplains to totally refrain from proselytising to their charges, especially in circumstances that involve ethical/moral issues.

Imagine yourself as a believer who is convinced that he/she has a moral duty to share the gospel and 'be a light unto others'. It's absurd to expect well-meaning, even compassionate, Christian chaplains to avoid referring to their faith if they deem it necessary, whether to console, advise or admonish a young person under their care.

And if they prove my cynicism wrong and don't proselytise or mention anything remotely religious while carrying out their counselling duties, then why, as Russell mentioned, do these counsellors specifically have to be Christian chaplains?