Mr Cope said, “Today’s decision of the High Court, ruling that the law used to maintain Commonwealth funding for chaplains is unconstitutional, gives the government the chance to abolish a program which violates the principle of the separation of Church and State”
In 2011 the Ombudsman reported that this program has been used to allow religious groups, which are overwhelmingly Protestant Christians, to preach their particular views to a captive audience.
“A secular State must not use religious means to achieve the aims of government where there are adequate secular means of doing so. It is quite clear that there are more than sufficient secular services available to provide the type of counselling and guidance that it is intended that Chaplains should provide.
“Strict adherence to the separation of Church from State is vital in the context of a pluralistic or multicultural society.
“In our multicultural society it is important that the State does not alienate some of its citizens by favouring one religion over the other or those who have no religion by being seen to favour religion. Yet this is precisely what successive Commonwealth government have chosen to do by this program.”