Texas lawmaker: I want Christian chaplains in schools to "put God back in government"
State Sen. Mayes Middleton admitted the true intent of his chaplains-in-schools bill
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I’ve already written about how Texas has passed a law allowing trained social workers to be replaced by Christian chaplains in public schools (even though religious chaplains are begging districts not to go through with it). More recently, Iowa Republicans have filed a bill to allow chaplains in public schools. Republicans in Florida have advanced a similar bill, giving “local school districts the option to establish a volunteer chaplaincy program.”
Critics have been saying for months now that this is nothing more than a new way to shove Christianity into public schools, while defenders of these bills say it’s a way to improve students’ mental health at a time when schools are understaffed when it comes to social workers and counselors. Inviting chaplains into schools, said one advocacy group, would give kids “a solid spiritual foundation and a safe space to express their pain and frustrations.”
See, everyone? It’s not about religious indoctrination. It’s about meeting the needs of students with the help of faith-based groups.
Even one of the architects of the Texas chaplain law, Sen. Mayes Middleton, is freely admitting this has everything to do with getting God into schools.
On Monday, Middleton appeared on “The WallBuilders Show,” a podcast hosted by Christian pseudo-historians David Barton and son Tim Barton along with Rick Green (a self-described “Constitution Coach”).
During a discussion with Green, Middleton repeatedly admitted that the true goal of his bill was “putting God back in government”:
… what happened is our U.S. Supreme Court, thanks to President Trump's appointments, made it possible for us to go win some of these fights and put God back in government so people can freely exercise their religious beliefs in government and in schools.
… This allows students, faculty, staff, to freely exercise their religion and have this tool available. Someone to talk to from a Godly perspective, because chaplains represent God in government. That's what they do and that's what we need more of in this country. And thankfully, because of the Coach Kennedy case, we're able to do that without any legal challenges. Of course, these atheist groups out of Washington D.C. oppose chaplains in schools, but their legal arguments are now totally meritless, and they won't win if they try.
Middleton added that part of his legislation required Texas districts to vote on whether or not they wanted to allow chaplains into their schools… but it’s not really a choice. Because if they vote against it, Middleton says litigation could be forthcoming:
… Sadly, some of the districts have listened to some of these atheist organizations, out-of-state Washington D.C. organizations. I know one district that's very close by that actually voted to ban chaplains. Which, wow, honestly, that's probably a larger risk for litigation because, in that case, you're prohibiting, for example, a teacher or admin or somebody at the district from seeing someone based solely on their religious beliefs. Yeah, and that is a serious religious liberties issue.
First of all, the idea that there are a slew of atheist organizations based in Washington, D.C.—and that they all have this outsized power—is laughable. (If only!)
But more to the point, no church/state separation group would ever prevent a staffer or student from seeing a chaplain who shares their religious views. They can always go to church for that. What they can’t do—and shouldn’t be allowed to do—is use government resources to advance their religious agenda.
Middleton doesn’t give a damn about non-Christian students because he knows his bill would benefit Christians (who have the infrastructure to create and ordain chaplains) far more than any other group. In fact, his bill didn’t even require those chaplains to have any formal training, which means helping students isn’t even a priority for the Republicans who passed the bill. They just needed a way to get Jesus into the building and this could do the trick.
Elsewhere in the interview, Middleton argued that schools have been worse off ever since “prayer was taken out of our public schools in the 1960s” (which it wasn’t). This is what he does, though: He floods the zone with faith-based bullshit in order to win over gullible Christians who don’t know any better. Middleton has also filed multiple bills to bring Bible reading to public schools and do away with all kinds of church/state separation barriers.
He pushed those bills for the same reason he pushed this one: He firmly believes the church—his church specifically—should dictate all state policy. And Texas Republicans, unfortunately, don’t have the courage to say no to him.