Even Chaplains Don’t Want Chaplains Instead of Counselors in Public Schools

Christian nationalism is the problem

Photo by Getty Images / Maggie Q. Thompson

A new state law allows school districts to replace their certified counselors with untrained chaplains. Not-fanatical religious figures are urging schools not to do it.

Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 763 in this year’s legislative session, a Christian nationalist proposal that will let school districts replace certified school counselors with uncertified, Christian-only chaplains. Now, more than 100 religious figures across Texas have released a letter asking the state’s public schools not to let the chaplains take over these sensitive positions.

“We strongly caution against this government assertion of authority over the spiritual development and formation of our public school children,” the letter signed by 100 chaplains reads. “Not only are these chaplains likely to bring about conflict with the religious beliefs of parents, but chaplains serving in public schools would also amount to spiritual malpractice by the chaplains.”

Opponents of SB 763 have expressed alarm over the fact that the bill doesn’t prohibit chaplains from proselytizing students or require them to counsel those who aren’t Christian. They also point out that funding for the law will come from school districts’ security budgets, including its monies for mental health support and suicide prevention. And the chaplains who replace counselors don’t have to take any training or have educational qualifications.

Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and a nationwide leader in the fight against Christian nationalism, said that public schools are not places for religious instruction. “As both the mom of a third grader in a Dallas public school and a Baptist leader committed to religious freedom, I’m deeply concerned about growing Christian nationalism in Texas,” Tyler said. “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.”

The three groups who organized chaplains to sign the letter are BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty), Interfaith Alliance, and Texas Impact, an interfaith justice organization.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Brant Bingamon
Austin ISD Reduces Budget Deficit by Half
Austin ISD Reduces Budget Deficit by Half
Meanwhile, special ed students are still struggling

March 1, 2024

The City Tries to Fix Its Website – Again
The City Tries to Fix Its Website – Again
City is looking for a new team to rebuild austintexas.gov

March 1, 2024


Christian nationalism, 88th Legislative Session, education

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle