Atheists Sue WI Attorney General Over Establishment of Faith-Based Chaplaincy November 13, 2018

Atheists Sue WI Attorney General Over Establishment of Faith-Based Chaplaincy

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel over his establishment of a faith-based (read: Christian) chaplaincy program for members of the state’s Department of Justice and their families.

This stems from a speech Schimel gave earlier this year when he said that suicide was a greater threat to police officers in the state than getting killed in the line of duty. He then hired six Christian chaplains to deal with the mental health of cops. All six were white and male. The academic credentials of one of them amounted to little more than a degree in “Biblical studies.” Two others didn’t list any academic credentials. We also didn’t know if their training as religious counselors was analogous to a secular course-load.

All future chaplains, he said, would receive taxpayer-funded training.

FFRF applauded Schimel for trying to address a difficult issue, but they also urged him to provide officers with counselors who have secular training and a wide array of backgrounds and experiences.

Not every cop is a Christian. Certainly not every cop is male. They wouldn’t all feel comfortable with the options Schimel was offering them — nor would every Christian man, while we’re at it. If Schimel was trying to help cops with their mental health, this was a limited service that only helped a select group of officers while promoting religion on the taxpayers’ dime.

Even after receiving FFRF’s letter, though, Schimel changed nothing about the program. That’s why FFRF is now suing him.

“The DOJ Chaplaincy Program does not include, and affirmatively excludes, secular mental health professionals,” FFRF’s legal complaint asserts. The complaint notes that the program sets up a religious test as a condition for employment: Chaplains must be ordained or licensed clergy in good standing of a faith group. Yet they aren’t required to be professional mental health providers, or be licensed or otherwise regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, like other mental health professionals.

“There’s absolutely no need or justification for the DOJ to provide religious counseling as an accommodation, such as can be argued that the military is obliged to offer,” adds Gaylor. “This is pure and simple a case of governmental promotion of religion to state employees, and it’s not only unnecessary, it also violates both the Wisconsin and U.S. Constitutions.”

By the way, Schimel just lost his re-election bid to Democrat Josh Kaul. But that doesn’t make Schimel immune from wrongdoing. He violated the law while in power, and FFRF wants him to be punished for it.

(Screenshot via YouTube. Portions of this article were published earlier)

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