More than 100 Texas Chaplains in Texas, United States, have protested a new law replacing school counselors with religious chaplains in public schools.
In a letter that was issued by the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC), the Interfaith Alliance and Texas Impact, the Texas Chaplains described the law as unconstitutional, urging school board members to reject it as “harmful to our public schools and the students and families they serve.”
They argue that the law is a violation of religious freedom and the separation of church and state guaranteed by the US Constitution, calling it a “Trojan horse” to evangelize children.
The law, passed in May, states “a school district may employ a chaplain instead of a school counselor to perform the duties required of a school counselor under this title”.
Texas chaplains are concerned that under the law, there is no requirement for a school chaplain to be certified by the state board as an educator or undergo any training. That contrasts with the extensive training required for healthcare and military chaplains.
The BJC’s executive director, Amanda Tyler, said: “Public schools are not the place for religious instruction – that is best left to houses of worship, religious institutions, and families.
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. School districts should reject this misguided effort to inject more religion and division into our schools.” While the law starts on September 1, school board members would have to approve the move with a vote before March 2024.