Public school chaplains on the horizon in Texas

Public school chaplains on the horizon in Texas

Public school chaplains on the horizon in Texas

Policymakers in the Lone Star State are pushing through a bill designed to help public school students through tough times.

The Texas legislature is sending legislation (S.B. 763) to the governor that would permit school districts to have volunteer or paid chaplains in public schools. A Democrat in the Texas House, James Talarico, stated earlier this week during a phone interview with Religion News Service that he was worried the measure would lead to "Christian nationalists infiltrating our public schools and indoctrinating our students."

Texas Eagle Forum president Cindi Castilla, who testified in favor of the bill, was asked about naysayers like Talarico – people who argue separation of church and state or are concerned about religious influence on students.

"[The students] may be talking to a chaplain who is a believer, but chaplains are trained to give encouragement and hope and help the child through an event or an experience they're just struggling with. They're not there to proselytize their religion," Castilla explains.

Castilla, Cindi (TX Eagle Forum) Castilla

AFN asked Castilla what would happen if a Satanist claims discrimination if refused appointment as a chaplain.

"Chaplains are actually defined – and a Satanist does not fall into that definition," Castilla replies. "We have some interesting districts here, but we think we could fight back and say this is not a chaplain. It doesn't fall into the definition as provided by the Supreme Court on several occasions."

If Governor Greg Abbott signs the measure into law, Castilla contends it will be a special blessing for rural schools that cannot afford to hire a school counselor to help students through difficulties they encounter. It would take effect beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.