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Chaplains accused of pushing religion in schools

Some parents say they have evidence the federally-funded National School Chaplaincy program is being used to push religion to public school students.

The controversy is now headed for the High Court, and there is also a Federal Government review and an ombudsman's investigation.

In 2007 the Howard government introduced federal funding for chaplains to work in schools, with the proviso they were not to evangelise or proselytise.

But the New South Wales Parents and Citizens Association says there is evidence chaplains are proselytising in public schools and students are being encouraged to join religious activities and prayer meetings.

Council of State School Organisations NSW president Helen Walton says her association is receiving more and more information about proselytising incidences.

"When the chaplaincy role was sold to us, it was also sold to us in terms of the fact that it was not a religious-based position," she said.

"It was purely a welfare-based position. Our concern is that it's moved beyond that now, that we now have information that some of these people in schools are actually having religious activities, prayer meetings, and encouraging students to come along."

The United Christian Education Foundation is the chaplaincy provider at Ulladulla High School on the New South Wales South Coast.

A newsletter on its website reads: "There is much to be thankful for as we look back on another year of bringing the great news of Jesus to the precious young people at Ulladulla High School. The other week a Year 7 boy put up his hand and said, 'I asked Jesus into my life the other day'.

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