Monthly Archives: January 2011

Reasonable People – Review of The Australian Book of Atheism

Peter Kirkwood has reviewed The Australian Book of Atheism in today’s edition of The Australian. Here’s an extract:

“MY perception of contemporary atheism is strongly coloured by its high-profile proponent Richard Dawkins.

While in agreement with much of his argument for atheism and his criticism of religion, I often find his tone alienating. When he’s in strident anti-religion mode, his rhetoric is tinged with the same sort of fundamentalist fervour he finds so abhorrent in his religious opponents. So I approached this book with some trepidation, but I was pleasantly surprised. It is very readable and, for the most part, reasonable in tone. And it’s enlightening both in the content of individual essays and in the wide range of voices and points of view expressed.”

You can read the whole review here.

To say we’re delighted with the review would be a huge understatement.  Our deep and abiding thanks to all of those who have inspired and supported Warren and me and the other contributors and editors through the writing and production process.  And a special thanks, of course, to our publisher, Scribe, who showed such faith in us.

We are so proud of this book and absolutely delighted that it’s receiving such a positive reception from both readers and reviewers.

Chrys Stevenson

The Australian Book of Atheism is available online from Embiggen Books and from all good bookstores, including Borders, Readings, ABC Shops, Mary Ryan and others.

It’s On! Writ Lodged in High Court Challenge against National School Chaplaincy Program

Received today from the High Court Challenge team:

Ron Williams v. Commonwealth of Australia

Queensland parent challenges constitutional validity of Commonwealth funded National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP) in the High Court

A Queensland parent has issued writs in the High Court against the Commonwealth Government and Scripture Union Queensland, alleging the Government has breached the Australian Constitution through its funding of a chaplain at his children’s school.

Mr Ron Williams, the father of four children attending a public school in Toowoomba, argues that Commonwealth funding of the school’s chaplain breaches sections 54 and 116 of the Constitution.

The chaplain is funded under the National Schools Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), which has provided places for 2700 chaplains in schools throughout Australia.

Mr Williams argues that the Commonwealth Government failed to follow the proper constitutional requirements in funding the NSCP, and in its agreement with Scripture Union to place a chaplain at his children’s school.

The Government failed to provide the necessary legislative appropriation provisions required by section 54 of the Constitution.

Mr Williams also argues that the NSCP requires those appointed to the public office of school chaplain at his children’s school are subject to the requirement to a religious test.

That is, they must be practising Christians, regulated and trained by Scripture Union. This, he says, breaches section 116 of the Constitution which states that ‘no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public test under the Commonwealth’.

Counsel retained by Horowitz and Bilinsky to represent Mr. Williams are Mr. Bret Walker SC and Mr. Gerald Ng.

This solo constitutional challenge by Mr. Williams is receiving financial support via a public appeal to individuals at his High Court Challenge website:

Related Posts on this Blog:

Heroic or Quixotic:  The High Court Challenge Against Australia’s National School Chaplaincy Program

A Case Against School Chaplaincy – Part One:  A Fox in the Henhouse

A Case Against School Chaplaincy – Part Two:  Russian Roulette

A Case Against School Chaplaincy – Part Three:  Gay Teens at Risk from School Chaplaincy

Related Posts (Elsewhere)

David Marr (2011), Chaplains in schools are ‘inadequately supervised’, Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January

With God by their Side, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 October 2010

Jim Campbell (2010), Dad fights chaplaincy program, Queensland Times, 28 October

Compass (2010), Challenging the Chaplains (video), ABC Television, 24 October

Michael Bachelard (2010), Chaplains in Schools Challenged, The Age, 5 September

Cannold, Leslie (2010), Why are we robbing our littlies to preach Paul?, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August

Kate Dennehy (2010), ‘God botherers’ infiltrate Brisbane high school, Brisbane Times, 15 August

Caroline Overington (2008), Genesis of a Complaint, The Australia, 5 December


Money is tight for everyone, but even by making a small contribution to the High Court Challenge you are buying a stake in Australian constitutional history.

Please note that this case is being financed by the Williams family and by public subscription.  Monies paid towards the High Court Challenge will go into a trust set aside expressly for the payment of the considerable legal fees associated with a case of this kind.  If you are able to donate, please visit the High Court Challenge website.  Donations, whether small or large, can be made by cheque or money order, direct deposit, or by PayPal using the link on the website.

Chrys Stevenson