New chaplaincy program to be intertwined with Chicago police.

Religion doesn’t propagate itself by being reasonable, but instead on getting people when they are the least capable of being reasonable.  They try to get people on their death beds and at other times when they are emotionally distraught.  They also go after the very young, whose critical faculties are not fully developed.  In arenas where evidence and clear-thinking reign supreme (like science, academia, and debates), religiosity plummets.

That is why a program in Chicago that would allow chaplains to be present when bad news is delivered to people is right out of the religious, capitalize-on-the-grief-of-others playbook.

A program allowing volunteer chaplains to work with police will be permitted in McPherson despite a complaint from a national group that it violates the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state, Mayor Thomas Brown said.

Brown read a three-page statement to the McPherson City Commission Monday explaining that his discussions with the city’s attorney convinced him the program was constitutional. The program, which has not yet started, will allow volunteer chaplains to counsel officers and be present when families are notified of tragedies, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/TNp3RA ).

The FFRF‘s Andrew Seidel (definitely one of the good guys in the atheist movement) summed it up in a single sentence.

“There are some serious issues with this program, particularly their blindsiding people with religious counselors when they may or may not want them,” Seidel said.

The rationalizations make me groan.

Brown said in his letter that the program meets a three-prong test set up under a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Those requirements include that the program has a secular purpose, advancing religion is not its “primary effect,” and it doesn’t create “an excessive entanglement between church and state.”

The program “provides voluntary counseling to both officers and citizens who have interacted with law enforcement, but only if requested by the individual,” he said

Chaplains will be prohibited from proselytizing and must provide counseling “to people of all religions, and those with no religion at all, in a secular manner unless the individual wants to talk about their religious or spiritual needs.”

You know who would be great at counseling police and grieving victims in a secular manner?  Counselors.  The odds we’ll see a volunteer counselor/therapist program?  Nil.  Religion is a superfluous variable in this equation, yet it’s the first one that was pursued.

And we all know how good religious leaders are at obeying when told not to proselytize.  Good luck to the FFRF here.

  • Peggy Knudtson

    This same thing is happening in a town near Wichita. FFRF complained but the city is deciding to go ahead with it.
    http://www.ksn.com/news/local/story/McPherson-city-officials-fight-for chaplain/l3ID_3Xb8U2BxvKka7SX_A.cspx

    • N. Burgess

      This is the same town as the one in the blog post, actually. Not sure where JT got Chicago from, as McPherson, KS is a few states away!

  • John Horstman

    How does this come anywhere close to passing even one of the Supreme Court’s tests?

  • Mark

    “The odds we’ll see a volunteer counselor/therapist program? Nil.”
    Yeah, why are no secular counselors/therapists are stepping up to volunteer?

    • SB

      It seems you need to touch up on your reading comprehension, as well as your grammar. Here’s a clue: “volunteer chaplains”.


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