A bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be displayed in Texas schools died in the state House of Representatives after lawmakers failed to take a vote on it Tuesday before a midnight deadline.
However, under the radar, the Republican controlled Texas legislature just passed a controversial bill which will allow schools across Texas to hire chaplains in addition to (or in lieu of) traditional school counselors. Funded courtesy of the taxpayer students may soon be receiving some spiritual guidance when they walk into the school counselor’s office. The bill would require chaplains to be on payroll, and not volunteers.
Critics of the bill say it is a blatant violation of the separation of church and state and argue that it is just another attempt by those holding Christian beliefs to inject God into schools by any means necessary. Meanwhile, supporters argue that the bill will make schools safer by directly addressing the mental health crisis facing youth across America – and filling a much-needed spiritual gap in our education system.
The chaplains will not be required to meet the educational standards of school counselors. Currently, school counselors in Texas are required to be certified by the State Board for Education, hold a master’s degree, as well as have two years of classroom experience, a standard which chaplains will not be required to meet.
Chaplains, however, will be required to pass a background check, cannot have a sex offense conviction, and must hold an endorsement from a religious body. They must also meet all US Department of Defense chaplaincy requirements.
One of the main groups behind the bill, the National School Chaplain Association (NSCA) primary focus is on putting Christianity front and center in the lives of young people. On their website, NSCA describes themselves as a ‘Christian chaplain ministry,’ and one Mission Generation YouTube video claims that “there is a fantastic opportunity to bring God’s word to millions of children through public and private schools,” arguing schools are “the largest network of children on the planet.”
Some fear this is a step toward a Christian Nationalist Indoctrination program.