Baptist group opposes proposed bills in Texas legislature

Schools should not be allowed to replace counselors with chaplains, which would undermine religious liberty

Apr 19, 2023

Media contact: Karlee Marshall  |  [email protected]

WASHINGTON – BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) says a proposal to allow unqualified chaplains to take the place of public school counselors undermines religious liberty. The Texas Legislature is considering House Bill 3614/Senate Bill 763, which would allow Texas schools to hire chaplains to perform the work of school counselors but without any required certification, training or experience. BJC has a long history of supporting public education and religious freedom, and the organization announced its opposition to this legislation today.  

The Rev. Jennifer Hawks, associate general counsel at BJC and graduate of George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, issued the following statement:  

“Religious instruction for Texas students is best left to houses of worship, religious institutions and families. Allowing Texas schools to hire anyone under the label of ‘chaplain’ to perform the work of school counselors threatens religious liberty by substituting an undefined religious title for licensed counselor. The goal of public schools is not religious indoctrination.

Professional chaplains help individuals explore their own religious beliefs, especially in contexts such as military service, hospitals and prisons where one’s individual ability to engage in religious exercise may be limited. School counselors perform critical work helping students achieve academically, manage their emotions, learn interpersonal skills and plan for post-graduation options. We should not blur the differences in these important professions. Misusing the title of ‘chaplain’ to shortcut standards for public school counselors undermines religious freedom in public schools.

If more counselors are needed, then the Texas legislature should give public schools the resources to hire more counselors. BJC, a national religious liberty organization rooted in the Baptist conviction of religious liberty for all, opposes House Bill 3614/Senate Bill 763 and urges Texans of all faiths and of no faith to speak out against this attack on everyone’s faith freedom.” 



BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is an 87-year-old religiously based organization working to defend faith freedom for all and protect the institutional separation of church and state in the historic Baptist tradition. BJC is the home of the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign.