Court: Australia’s gov’t went too far paying for chaplains
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s highest court said Wednesday that the government exceeded its constitutional powers by paying for chaplains to run programs in public schools. The attorney general plans to try to keep the work going.
The High Court ruling is a victory for Ron Williams, whose 6-year-old son came home from Darling Heights State School singing gospel songs in 2010. Williams sued over the program in Toowoomba in Queensland.
Six of seven High Court judges agreed that the government exceeded its powers by paying Scripture Union Queensland to provide a school chaplain. About 2,700 schools around Australia have similar programs. Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said she is examining the ruling’s implications. She said she would examine ways to legally continue the program.
The voluntary programs include support and guidance about ethics, values, relationships, spirituality and religious issues. It costs the government more than $71 million a year.