Religious liberty groups praise districts rejecting public school chaplains
Texas chaplains are leading the fight against “chaplains” replacing counselors in public schools.
Jonny Levenfeld, West End Strategy Team / [email protected]; 202-704-4535
Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, BJC / [email protected]; Phone: 713-614-4946
Joshua Houston, Texas Impact / [email protected]; Phone: 979-487-1188
AUSTIN—More than ten Texas school districts already rejected the option to replace public school counselors with “chaplains.” These districts stretch across the state, from El Paso to Tyler.
As of today, the districts rejecting the misguided proposal include Brownsboro ISD, Canutillo ISD, Edinburg CISD, Frisco ISD, Gainesville ISD, Godley ISD, Kerrville ISD, Lamar CISD, McKinney ISD, San Elizario ISD, and San Marcos CISD.
More than 170 Texas chaplains signed a letter urging school board members statewide to reject the new opportunity to let anyone who can pass a background check call themselves a “chaplain,” giving them access to children in public schools “to provide support, services, and programs for students.”
The letter, organized by BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty), Interfaith Alliance, and Texas Impact, received widespread media attention across the state and country.
“Texas school districts are right to defend religious freedom by rejecting the opportunity to replace counselors with untrained and unlicensed chaplains,” said Amanda Tyler, executive director of BJC and lead organizer of the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign. “Make no mistake about it: this Texas law was pushed by a group wanting school chaplains to proselytize in public schools. Families of all faiths and none should feel confident that they can send their children to school without school officials interfering with their decisions about religious instruction. As the parent of a child in a public school in Dallas, I hope more school districts will stop this government overreach into spiritual matters.”
“It’s not surprising that districts are rejecting this program. Trustees rightly are concerned that the expectations are vague, the risks are huge, and their constituents never asked for this in the first place,” said Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact.
“Our public schools must be welcoming and safe places for all students, which is why Texas school districts – with overwhelming support from faith communities – are rejecting this dangerous bill,” said the Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, president and CEO of Interfaith Alliance. “In defense of true religious freedom, democracy, and every child’s right to thrive in school, I urge districts statewide to follow their lead.”
Texas chaplains who signed the letter and spokespeople for each partner organization are available for print, radio, TV, podcast, and other interviews. We can also connect you with chaplains in specific parts of the state. Amanda Tyler spoke to CNN about the resurgence of Christian nationalism last year, and the Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush recently spoke with NPR and Democracy Now.
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.