Beattie proposes chaplains for hire

In another sign that politicians are increasingly courting the Christian vote, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced that a re-elected state Labor government would provide grants of up to $10,000 a year for schools who wish to hire chaplains.

"Chaplaincy services can complement other support programs by helping address students' spiritual and emotional needs by providing an avenue for them to explore their issues in a safe and supportive way," Mr Beattie told The Courier-Mail.

There are currently about 200 chaplains in Queensland schools.

Mr Beattie said chaplains were useful in "helping to address students' spiritual and emotional needs". The money would go directly to the Parents and Citizens Associations of schools that applied for assistance with their chaplaincy programs.

Mr Beattie who is a practising Christian and a parishioner at St Alban's Anglican Church at Wilson on Brisbane's northside, also announced a further $5 million for the preservation of heritage churches. His wife, Heather, is the daughter of an Anglican clergyman.

The Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, John Bathersby, last night welcomed the convergence of religion and politics, saying Christians were often passionate about their faith as well as democratic rights.

Lobby groups had already made their election wish-lists known, Dr Bathersby said, but with his background he would like to see a government focus more on social welfare, health and the environment.

"From a social justice point of view, I think we're always on about a government that promotes the common good," Dr Bathersby told the Australian, adding that Queenslanders should count their blessings.

He said governments should urge consumers to protect the environment by conserving water and other precious commodities.

School rent-a-chaplain plan (Courier Mail, 24/8/06)
Good heavens, has Beattie got friends up there too? (The Australian, 24/8/06)

Smart move as new pontiff "Beattie-fied" (CathNews, 24/6/05)

24 Aug 2006