Texas’ debate over school chaplains escalates school board culture wars (Texas Tribune)


    Texas’ debate over school chaplains escalates school board culture wars – By Jack Jenkins (Religion News Service) / Dec 15, 2023

    A new law lets schools use safety funds to pay for unlicensed chaplains working in mental health roles. Supporters say it helps address student mental health while critics blast it as a Christian nationalist attempt to convert children to a specific form of faith.

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    HOUSTON — It’s been more than seven months since the Texas Legislature passed a bill allowing public schools to hire school chaplains, but for the Rev. Dave Welch, his work has just begun. Dining last month at the Taste of Texas, a sprawling restaurant and museum on the outskirts of Houston with 750-pound replica cannons made to resemble those from the Battle of the Alamo bolted to its entryway, the longtime conservative Christian activist outlined his two-pronged plan for what comes next.

    “Number one is winning over the leaders currently in the school system, the school boards — or changing them,” said Welch, who runs the Houston Area Pastor Council. “Number two is persuading and winning over enough pastors to see this as a mission field.”

    Strident rhetoric is nothing new from Welch, a seasoned veteran of the culture wars who was once a national field director for the Christian Coalition, a conservative advocacy group. It also echoes the messaging of the National School Chaplain Association, the activist group that helped push Senate Bill 763 — the controversial school chaplains bill — through the Texas Legislature earlier this year and is now primed for a nationwide push.

    “As NSCA officers engage state legislators we are energized to know that this school chaplaincy bill will pave the way for spiritual care, support, and Biblical guidance for children, teachers, and staff in public schools throughout many states,” read an email to NSCA supporters.

    CONTINUE > https://www.texastribune.org/2023/12/15/texas-school-chaplain-law/



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