Say ‘no’ to chaplains
in public schools

Stop government overreach into spiritual matters.

The Texas Legislature attacked faith freedom by letting anyone who can pass a background check be called a “chaplain” and have access to children in the state’s public schools. But, chaplains are speaking out against this government overreach into spiritual matters, and the idea is starting to spread to other states.

People across the country are working to stop these misguided programs in their tracks. BJC is focused in particular on mobilizing chaplains to oppose these programs. We helped organize a letter from more than 170 Texas chaplains and are now collecting signatures on a new letter from chaplains nationwide.

“As trained chaplains, we strongly caution against the government assertion of authority for the spiritual development and formation of our public school children,” reads the letter. “Introducing religious leaders into official school positions to serve students in schools will cause division among student bodies that are made up of many religions and nonreligious students.” Read more about this effort and the first release of the letter.

“Public schools are not the place for religious instruction — that is best left to houses of worship, religious institutions and families,” said BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler, who also is the parent of a third grader in a Dallas public school. “School districts must reject the misguided choice granted to them by the Texas Legislature to inject more religion and division in our schools by enlisting school chaplains.”

Add your name: People of faith reject public school chaplains

If you are not a chaplain, there are other petitions you can sign to show your concern.

If you are a person of faith living anywhere in the United States, sign this petition to stop this problematic program from coming to your state!

BJC’s statements on the problematic proposals

“Both the state and the church had an important role in my children’s development, but they weren’t the same. Nor should they be. The separation between the institutions of church and state is essential to both,” writes BJC General Counsel Holly Hollman in TIME, talking about how this idea is spread. Read her op-ed.

“Misusing the title of ‘chaplain’ to shortcut standards for public school counselors undermines religious freedom in public schools,” said the Rev. Jennifer Hawks, BJC’s associate general counsel, when this was first proposed in Texas in April 2023. “If more counselors are needed, then the Texas Legislature should give public schools the resources to hire more counselors.” Read the whole statement and press release.

“Christian nationalism conflates religious and political authority, and our public schools should not be endorsing religion — they should continue to leave that up to the students and their families,” said BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler. Read her entire statement and press release about the bill in Texas, and read an article by Tyler published by

Spread the word and take action with our toolkits and digital resources

Looking for more information on understanding these bills and finding ways to take action? Use this toolkit with an overview of how these bills will undermine students’ religious freedom and well-being. It contains resources to help you as you advocate for your children, your schools, and the educational and civil rights of all students.

Share about this issue on social media, letting others know why this misguided proposal is not protecting faith freedom for all. We have a free social media toolkit, with graphics and tips for you to use.

drawing of hands of different colors reaching towards a laptop computer against a blue background

Frequently Asked Questions about the chaplain letter and other petitions

Can I sign the chaplain letter? All current chaplains may sign the letter from chaplains.

Do I have to list my employer when I sign the chaplain letter? No. We will ask for the type of chaplain work you do (military, hospital, hospice, university, etc.), but we will not ask for the name of your employer.

What will you do with the chaplain letter? The letter with the list of signers will be posted on BJC’s website, and it will be sent to state legislators as they consider school chaplain legislation. Click here for the letter with signers through April 19.

If I’m not a chaplain, what can I do to oppose this bad policy proposal? We need you to watch out for similar efforts in your state — this idea is spreading, and we need your help to stop it. One way is to sign this petition, which is open to all people of faith across the country.

Baptist News Global logo with a gray backgound, red icon and white lettering

In the news

News organizations around the world are covering this issue, including when it first began in Texas. 

Watch a press conference in Texas on Feb. 29, 2024, about the end of the voting period for this misguided proposal in that state:

Read about the Texas bill in The Washington PostThe GuardianBaptist News GlobalDallas Morning News, the ABC affiliate in AustinFOX 26 Houston, the NPR affiliate in Dallas, and Baptist Standard to name a few.

CNN published a piece by BJC’s Amanda Tyler: New Texas law deprives families of religious liberty rights

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram published a piece by Chaplain Britt Luby: Students need qualified counselors, not chaplains. The jobs are too different.

Texas resources

Watch this video about the issue in Texas, where school boards had until March 1, 2024, to vote on creating the programs:

Learn more about this issue on the Respecting Religion podcast, as Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman discuss Texas SB 763 and their concerns about government-sponsored proselytization in public schools, as well as the group behind this law. Episode 5 of season 5 is titled “An alarming push to put chaplains in public schools.”

Use graphics from the social media toolkit, and search the hashtag #FaithFreedomTX to see what others are saying.

Looking for a guide for reaching out to the school board in your area? Check out the advocacy toolkit produced by BJC and our partners for more resources and ways to take action.

photo illustration of a teacher in a classroom

Tracking school district votes across Texas

On January 22, 2024, BJC launched a tracker of the 25 largest school districts in Texas. These districts enrolled a total of 1,838,520 students in Autumn 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Education: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics. That’s approximately one-in-three of Texas public school children at the time. Click here to read our post announcing the tracker.

There is no comprehensive database of how school districts have voted. This data has been compiled by BJC staff, and any updates or corrections should be sent to Communications Director Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons at [email protected].

Top 25 Texas school districts rejecting ‘chaplain’ program by BJC

Support this vital work

Your gifts to BJC bolster our advocacy efforts to answer this call, using our voice and our coalition-building skills to help chaplains organize their opposition to this proposal in Texas.