Texas chaplains praised for opposing school chaplaincies, David Barton called out for lies


FFRF Action Fund is focusing on Texas in its weekly shoutout for secular activism and against Christian nationalism. The legislative arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is naming a brave group of Texas chaplains as “Secularists of the Week” for urging school districts not to fill the positions of school counselors and social workers with chaplains lacking academic qualifications. Disgraced Texas pseudohistorian and avowed Christian nationalist David Barton, meanwhile, has earned the title of “Theocrat of the Week” for his recent outrageous comments.

More than 100 chaplains in Texas sent a letter to school board members across the state urging them to reject hiring chaplains to replace school counselors and social workers, which a new law passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year shockingly allows school districts to do. In the letter, the group of chaplains note that, except those with special training and experience, chaplains are not a worthy replacement for trained professionals who must undergo rigorous training and certification. The letter also notes that the new law does not safeguard against proselytizing while at public schools. In summation, the letter notes that chaplains do not belong in public schools; they are not qualified and they should not be hired or accepted as volunteers.

The law is set to go into effect today, Sept. 1, and its implementation will have to be voted on by each school district. FFRF with the ACLU and Americans United earlier this summer contacted each district urging them to vote down chaplaincies.

This week’s “Theocrat of the Week” is disgraced author and pseudohistorian David Barton. During a politically reactionary program this week, Barton claimed that Democrats are willing to cheat in elections to win because they lack “moral restraint” and are not “God-fearing.” It is difficult to set aside the irony, given the most recent indictment of several Trump cronies for attempting to steal an election. Barton is insistent on using his Christian nationalist views to further an already debunked claim that elections were stolen. While 36 percent of Democrats identify as religiously unaffiliated, this means the overwhelming number, 64 percent, identify as religious, which compares to 13 percent of Republicans without a religious affiliation. Any form of atheist-baiting is despicable.

While there is surely a contingent of Barton followers who still take him seriously, it is hard to imagine why. Infamously, one of his books, with the inadvertently perfect title, The Jefferson Lies, was pulled off the shelf by its Christian publisher for its blatant revisionist, incorrect accounts of history. He has also lied about earning a Ph.D. Barton was effectively given a Ph.D. from Life Christian University, a diploma mill that hands out degrees to a number of famous preachers and Christian leaders.

“The unethical Barton must be called out for his reckless and irresponsible disinformation campaigns,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF Action Fund president. “But we are so grateful to the 100 conscientious Texas chaplains who know Texas students deserve real counselors and social workers, not proselytizing.”

FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues. FFRF Action Fund serves as the advocacy arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has more than 40,000 members and works to keep religion out of government and educate the public about nontheism.