Earlier this year, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel gave a speech in which he explain that suicide was a greater threat to police officers in the state than getting killed in the line of duty.
But instead of doing everything he can to prevent suicide, he’s hiring six Christian chaplains to deal with the mental health of cops. All six are white and male. The academic credentials of one of them amounts to little more than a degree in “Biblical studies.” Two others don’t list any academic credentials. It’s also unclear if their training as religious counselors is analogous to a secular course-load.
Also, future chaplains will receive taxpayer-funded training.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, while applauding Schimel for trying to address a difficult issue, is also urging him to provide officers with counselors who have secular training and a wide array of backgrounds and experiences.
“Religion cannot and will not fix this problem,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Officers deserve bona fide, real-world aid from qualified professionals, not ministers whose expertise or interest is really theology.”
It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the government to insert a religious minister into situations where grieving, seriously injured or mentally ill officers and community members need help. It is wrong constitutionally and morally to take advantage of governmental employees’ most vulnerable moments to promote the majority religion.
Christian ministers are not equipped to meet the needs of nonbelievers or believers of minority faiths, FFRF further notes. A nonbelieving employee will not be comfortable dealing with a person chosen because they are a Christian minister. Common religious platitudes such as “she is in a better place” are meaningless and even hurtful to grieving nonbelievers.
It’s a similar argument that Humanist groups have made about military chaplains, too. But at least the military knows to provide non-Christian chaplains even if they still refuse to accept non-religious ones.
Not every cop is a Christian man. They wouldn’t all feel comfortable with these options — nor would every Christian man, while we’re at it. If Schimel is trying to help cops with their mental health, this is a limited service that only helps a select group of officers while promoting religion on the taxpayers’ dime.
Instead of addressing the problem, Schimel has created several new ones.
(Screenshot via YouTube)