Texas Chaplains: Reject Public School Chaplain Programs
Governor Greg Abbott has yet another plan for injecting religion into public schools–having each school hire a chaplain. However, 100 actual chaplains in Texas have signed a letter rejecting that idea.
Because of our training and experience, we know that chaplains are not a replacement for school counselors or safety measures in our public schools, and we urge you to reject this flawed policy option: It is harmful to our public schools and the students and families they serve.
There is no requirement in this law that the chaplains refrain from proselytizing while at schools or that they serve students from different religious backgrounds.
The law provides for chaplain salaries to be drawn from funds designated “to improve school safety and security.” Those funds are directed at – but not limited to – the roles of restorative
discipline and justice practices, mental and behavioral health support, and suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. We are deeply concerned about using chaplains in these roles to
provide those services, particularly as the law does not require any specific training or qualifications.
SB 763 allows a school district to give any employee or volunteer who can pass a background check the title of “chaplain.” This is simply not enough. Professional chaplains have specific education and expertise to fulfill our role in helping others engage their own religious practices and traditions. Typically, we are required to have a graduate theological degree and be supported by an approved organization connected to our spiritual tradition. In some settings, chaplains also must have one to two years of full-time experience as a religious or
spiritual leader. Many of us are ordained in our faith tradition. Additionally, board certified chaplains in health care go through a rigorous certification process, pursuing hundreds of hours
of extensive training and hands-on experience.