Against Chaplains in Public Schools

by Dec 21, 2023

On May 24, 2023, The Texas legislature pass Senate Bill 763 allowing public school districts to replace mental health counselors with chaplains, which could be paid or volunteer. The bill went into effect on September 1, 2023 and Texas school districts are currently determining whether or not they will utilize school chaplains.

The issue was brought before the Humble ISD school board on December 12, 2023, where it was referred to committee. The only person who spoke in support of using chaplains at the board meeting was the Education Lead for the Citizens Defending Freedom Foundation for Harris County. 

Below is the letter I sent to trustees against using chaplains in public schools.

Feedback Regarding School Chaplains

This letter is regarding the consideration of allowing school chaplains to be hired by the district or volunteer as provided for by Senate Bill 763.

I request that you dismiss the option for any one of the reasons that follow in the letter.

As an introduction, I will share a brief overview of my involvement in the district and the faith community.

My two oldest daughters graduated from Humble ISD schools, attending all twelve years. My youngest daughter attended Humble ISD schools from kindergarten through eighth grade until the district’s lack of preparation and consideration during a historic pandemic caused us to make a different choice for her.

I helped organize a community Easter event for six years and another community event for two, was a Girl Scout cookie mom for nine years among three girls and likely sold cookies to a good percentage of the population in the HKA area, taught vacation Bible school at Second Baptist for nine years, third-grade Sunday school for six, and volunteered for countless community, school, and church events over the past twenty years. If someone grew up in the area and is under thirty, they have likely participated in something I organized or volunteered at.

I have been a Christian since I was seven years old and attended a private Christian school for six years (not a positive experience, by the way). In addition to a bachelor’s in business administration, I have a master’s in cultural apologetics from Houston Christian University, an accredited university (in contrast to the popup university Charles Cunningham received an “honorary” Ph.D. from which is not). I have taken philosophy and classes on the Atonement from William Lane Craig, evangelism from Lee Strobel, evidence for the resurrection from Michael Licona, a comparison of Islam and Christianity from the late Nabeel Qureshi, sat in lectures by Dale Allison and N.T. Wright, and currently edit and contribute to an apologetics journal.

In addition, I have volunteered in a number of parachurch ministries, have prayed and seen miracles in response, and I currently teach weekly Bible studies and minister to Afghan Christians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I know what Christianity is and what it is not.

I also have a working understanding of religious freedom in the United States, as well as the reason behind it, which, apparently, the majority of the Texas legislature does not.

Just because the Texas legislature chooses to operate in ignorance, it does not mean that Humble ISD must as well.

History of Assessments for Religious Education

The question of public funds going to religious education is not new. In the first years of our nation, there was then, as today, a vociferous group led by Patrick Henry that wanted to force religious instruction on a spiritually apathetic nation. Fighting to maintain the disestablishment of religion, James Madison argued forcefully against any public funds going toward religious instruction. In “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” (1785), he wrote:

Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, “that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.”2 The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator.[1]

As school board trustees serving during a period when there is a strong effort to destroy this distinction, I highly recommend that you read Madison’s words in their entirety.

Origins of the Separation of Church and State

The United States has never had an established religion. This is by design. The founders primarily came from countries which had experienced centuries of war, strife, and religious persecution between the different sects of Christianity … just as extreme as any of the conflicts we see today between the different factions of Islam.

The founders learned the lesson from their history that whenever power is merged with religion, that power will corrupt and true religion will be lost.

The current Texas legislature is a perfect example of this. The very worst and the most corrupt are the loudest about their supposed “Christian” faith. They make such a mockery of God’s Word that I have to assume that they don’t believe in him at all and think that they will never be called to account.

They are like the corrupt leaders Micah prophesied against:

2 Woe to those who plan iniquity,

to those who plot evil on their beds!

At morning’s light they carry it out

because it is in their power to do it.

2 They covet fields and seize them,

and houses, and take them.

They defraud people of their homes,

they rob them of their inheritance.[2]

We may not have land allotted to families; however, in the United States, education is the children’s inheritance, and Abbott and his cronies are doing what they can to steal it from them.

If you are not familiar with the history of the church and how it always became diminished when married to the state, I recommend Church History in Plain Language, which provides a relatively succinct overview of the past two thousand years.

Requirement for Counselors

Senate Bill 763 not only makes a mockery of the Christian faith, but it also spits in the face of education and experience catering to Know-Nothings.

Mental health counseling is licensed and regulated in the State of Texas, as it should be as counselors should actually know what they are doing!

In order to become a licensed LPC associate in Texas, the requirements are as follows:

To be eligible to become an LPC Associate in Texas, you must have graduate degree in counseling or a counseling-related field from an accredited program and pass the National Counseling Exam (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Applicants who have not yet taken the licensing exam should contact NBCC. Information on that process is available on NBCC’s webpage (you do not need pre-approval from BHEC to take the exam). The LPC Associate license allows you to begin accruing the supervised clinical experience necessary to become a full Licensed Professional Counselor. All applicants for LPC Associate must: • submit a complete application and fee (fee covers both Associate license and upgrade to full LPC) • submit a signed supervisory agreement form with a board approved supervisor • submit passing scores from the NBCC • submit an official transcript that shows the conferral date of your graduate counseling degree • complete the Texas Jurisprudence Examination • submit a self-query report from the National Practitioner Data Bank • submit electronic fingerprints for a nationwide criminal history search. After passing the exam, the applicant should contact a board-approved supervisor to set up a supervisory relationship by completing the Supervisory Agreement Form found on the BHEC forms webpage. Applicants for licensure who have passed the licensing exam and have set up supervision with a board-approved supervisor should submit their application and supporting documents via our online licensing system.[3]

As you will note, the licensing requires a graduate degree from an accredited program, the successful completion of a professional exam, as well as a verified supervisory period.

A full professional counselor’s license requires the candidate to complete supervised training for a minimum of 18 months, 1,500 or more hours of supervised direct counseling price, and 3,000 or more hours of total supervised practice.

A counselor must not only be educated, but tested and tried before they are allowed to counsel on their own.

Requirements for Board Certified Chaplains

The Texas legislature appears to be unaware that there already are associations that certify chaplains. As with professional counselors, to become a board certified chaplain, one must complete a graduate degree in theology, preferably an M.Div., from an accredited university[4] (again, Cunningham’s worthless “honorary” degree that the district spent tens of thousands of dollars defending the use of wouldn’t cut it).[5]

Candidates with appropriate qualifications must complete an application that approaches a master’s thesis in length and scope. Upon acceptance into the chaplaincy training program, they undergo two years of further education and supervised training before they are qualified to practice solo.

Requirements for the Flim Flam School Chaplain Certification

The “National School Chaplain Association” was formed solely for the Texas bill and was not even active for a full year before the Texas legislature decided to throw the mental welfare of Texas school children into its lap.

The association is an extension of Mission Generation, a nonprofit run[6] by Rocky Malloy who has made a name for himself hustling a story of his life as a former “drug smuggling pirate” in evangelical spaces.[7] A history of a drug smuggler, saved by grace or not, does not make one qualified to set up a chaplain association or any other sort of training association. Being on a D-string speaker circuit does not give you qualifications for anything other than maybe getting butts in seats! (This is assuming is story is even true in the first place. Christian speakers are notorious for completely fabricating stories. See Mike Warnke,[8] Johanna Michaelson,[9] and Tim Ballard and Sound of Freedom.)[10]

The Texas bill was approved without any sort of qualifications and when initially passed, the “training” was going to be administered by an unaccredited university![11]

The current certification program is listed as requiring a precursory application and $199 fee and the course is only eight weeks for $2,799! Unlike a chaplain or counselor certification which both require a relevant graduate degree from an accredited university, the “school chaplain” certification requires absolutely no prior education or training. Sitting in an online class for eight weeks, and someone is supposed to be able to replace an educated and qualified mental health counselor. It is insulting and horrendous.

Senate Bill 763 is nothing more than legislated grift at the expense of Texas school children.

The website for the school chaplain association grossly misrepresents its own qualifications and experience.

Misleading claims

“The NSCA is the state of Texas'[sic] preferred provider for training and certification of school chaplains.”[12]

Yes, because there WAS NO SUCH THING before the Know Nothing Pharisees that make up the Texas legislature passed a bill to create them. Again, there ARE chaplains’ associations, which have come out against both the use of chaplains in schools as well as their replacement of mental health professionals. It is a misleading claim.

“Hiring a chaplain at your school directly impacts the lives of students, staff, educators, and communities through increased school safety, better teacher retention, and enhanced mental health support: less money spent on employee training; higher employee productivity; increased job satisfaction; lower turnover rate, and lower absenteeism.”[13] (“School Benefits,” NSCA)

Really? How would an unqualified and uneducated person result in “less money on employee training?” I’m really curious to know how that would work. As for the other claims, how would an association that had no operation experience prior to September 1, 2023, and that didn’t even have a registered website before July 2022, possibly have any evidence of improved outcomes? It does not. There are no sources cited and if there were, it would be based on research of results of chaplains from seasoned associations that provide board certified chaplains (the ones that recommend against replacing mental health counselors) which require graduate degrees and additional training and supervised work. Again, NSCA fraudulently misrepresents their services.

School Safety: National School Chaplain Association chaplains are trained to recognize school safety issues. Our chaplains create safer learning environments.[14]

Again, no evidence.

Teacher Retention: Teacher resignations are at an all-time high. The “ministry of presence” provides teachers and staff with a place to turn when life gets hard.[15]

No evidence.

Mental Health: School chaplains are not therapists; they are however able to offer a nonjudgmental outlet for individuals to unload stress and anxiety.[16]

The one truthful statement on the site. Actual professionals recognize their own limits and do not try to do another’s job.

This entire site is a case study in “Let’s try to get a bill passed and then figure it out,” and then … “Holy crap, we got it through, now what?!?” Every time I look at the NCSA site, something else has changed in response to criticism, just one more example of what a bad idea it is and that they have no idea what they are doing. What is even the point other than a payoff for a crony? From the FAQ:

Does the chaplain provide long-term counseling services?

While many chaplains hold degrees and licenses in counseling, your chaplain will not provide counseling services. We provide care for those who need professional counseling by helping to connect them with a suitable counselor, either from the school’s insurance network or from our referral network.[17]

NSCA acknowledges that it is not qualified to replace the mental health counselors it is legislated to replace, so they will refer you if a person needs actual help. Let me repeat this. You can pay an inexperienced and unqualified person to refer you to someone who is licensed and qualified. How does this make any sense at all? What savings would this be? Is this just one more shell game of grift?

The NSCA also assures the concerned that any religion other than Christianity need not be validated.

If [sic] public school hires a Christian chaplain, wouldn’t the school be required to hire chaplains of other faiths?

No. All hires are at the discretion of the district. The U.S. Senate has one chaplain. His name is Barry Black. He is a retired Navy Rear Admiral and a sincere Jesus-following Christian. Why would a local public school be required to hire a second or third chaplain if a single Christian chaplain may serve the U.S. Senate?[18]

It is evident that the NSCA and the Texas legislature not only do not understand Texas counseling licensing requirements, the Constitution, or the Christian faith, but they also do not have even the slightest handle on how to compose a logical argument.

The Senate, as well as the House and every military branch, do have chaplains. They are board certified chaplains, certified by the same associations that are speaking out against SB 763. These are the duties of the chaplains for the House and Senate.

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution states: “The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers.”

The election of the Rev. William Linn as Chaplain of the House on May 1, 1789, continued the tradition established by the Continental Congresses of each day’s proceedings opening with a prayer by a chaplain. The early chaplains alternated duties with their Senate counterparts on a weekly basis. The two conducted Sunday services for the Washington community in the House Chamber every other week.

Since the election of Rev. Linn in 1789, the House has been served by chaplains of various religious denominations, including Baptist (7), Christian (1), Congregationalist (3), Disciples of Christ (1), Episcopalian (4), Lutheran (1), Methodist (16), Presbyterian (15), Roman Catholic (2), Unitarian (2), and Universalist (1).

In addition to opening proceedings with prayer, the Chaplain provides pastoral counseling to the House community, coordinates the scheduling of guest chaplains, and arranges memorial services for the House and its staff. In the past, Chaplains have performed marriage and funeral ceremonies for House members.[19]

The chaplains for Congress provide an opening prayer for the proceedings, conduct Sunday services, and occasionally memorial services. Did you notice what is not on the list of duties performed? Mental health counseling, because chaplains are not licensed counselors. The services a board certified chaplain provides for Congress are entirely irrelevant to the argument for hiring “chaplains” who went through an eight-week online course to replace licensed mental health counselors because those board certified chaplains do not provide mental health counseling services to members of Congress!

NSCA certified chaplains cannot even provide all the services in schools that fully board certified chaplains provide to Congress, namely prayer. Public school officials, employees, and their agents are explicitly prohibited from providing or dictating prayer for students. From the “Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools” from the U.S. Department of Education dated May 15, 2023.

A public school and its officials may not prescribe prayers to be recited by students or by school authorities.[ 3 ] Indeed, it is “a cornerstone principle of [the U.S. Supreme Court’s] Establishment Clause jurisprudence that ‘it is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government.'”[ 4 ] Nothing in the First Amendment, however, converts the public schools into religion-free zones, or requires students, teachers, or other school officials to leave their private religious expression behind at the schoolhouse door. The line between government-sponsored and privately initiated religious expression is vital to a proper understanding of what the Religion and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment prohibit and protect.[ 5 ] Although a government may not promote or favor religion or coerce the consciences of students, schools also may not discriminate against private religious expression by students, teachers, or other employees. Schools must also maintain neutrality among faiths rather than preferring one or more religions over others.[ 6 ]

The Supreme Court’s decisions set forth principles that distinguish impermissible governmental religious speech from constitutionally protected private religious speech. For example, teachers, coaches, and other public school officials acting in their official capacities may not lead students in prayer, devotional readings, or other religious activities,[ 7 ] nor may they attempt to persuade or compel students to participate in prayer or other religious activities or to refrain from doing so.[ 8 ] The Supreme Court has held, for instance, that public school officials violated the Establishment Clause by inviting a rabbi to deliver prayers at graduation ceremonies because such conduct was “attributable to the State” and applied “subtle coercive pressure” that effectively required students to choose between praying or openly displaying their opposition to the prayer.[ 9 ] [20]

NSCA “chaplains” cannot provide mental health counseling because mental health counseling is a regulated activity and requires licensing under Texas law. NSCA “chaplains” also cannot perform standard chaplaincy duties, i.e. prayer, because that is Constitutionally prohibited. SB 763 is nothing more than an invitation for continual lawsuits.

Humble ISD has many immediate challenges. You really don’t need to be involving the district in one regarding religious freedom.

Experience Matters

Although all three professions provide a form of counseling, a chaplain is neither a mental health counselor nor a pastor. A true professional recognizes the limits of their capabilities, the ignorant and unqualified think that they can do it all.[21]

Clinical Counselors such as Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists are licensed and regulated by various governmental boards and professional associations. Pastoral Counselors such as Pastors, Ministerial Counselors, Chaplains and Church Counselors are credentialed and regulated by various ecclesiastical governing structures and may be influenced by professional associations.[22]

Actual professional chaplains, those with the education, training, and certification, have uniformly come out against SB 763.[23]

The true danger is that the “National School Chaplains Association” is not accountable to any governing body: it is unlicensed, unaccredited beyond being authorized by Know-Nothing legislators, and is outside of any professional or religious association.

The Dangers of Manipulation and Control

Those output from the National School Chaplains Association are not qualified as chaplains nor are they qualified as counselors. It is nothing more than a political boondoggle, a payoff to cronies, as well as an attempt to manipulate and control. It is an attempt to get a particular religion in the back door while Greg Abbott does his dirty work of destroying the Texas public education system as a whole.

I am a Christian (with actual credentials) and I would not want some 8-week trained yahoo “counseling” my girls any more than I would want a Muslim, Hindu, or Satanist providing spiritual “counsel.” For all I know, they could be some cessationist, complementarian, misogynistic Calvinist! No, thank you. I have a church. I have a pastor, and I have spiritual counsel for my family. I do not want someone like that poisoning my children’s minds against Christianity and painting a false picture of who God is with their shallow and ignorant exegesis and uninformed perspective.

That the Texas legislature as a whole does not understand Christianity is obvious, otherwise they would not continually try to shove it down people’s throats. If they actually had something[24] (i.e. the actual presence of the Holy Spirit),[25] they would not have to try to force it on people. They are the picture of the “man-moulders” C.S. Lewis warns of in Abolition of Man, the “men without chests” who do not see their fellow man as human beings,[26] fellow imagers, but simply a thing to be “conditioned” and used.[27]” In this case, their fellow man is their neighbor’s child. (I highly doubt that a single legislator who voted for this bill would be okay with a Muslim or Buddhist chaplain in a public school).

The attempt to force belief does not work. It does not work for Greg Abbott and his bastardized distortion of the Gospel any more than it does for the Taliban who try to force their extreme version of Islam in Afghanistan (and there really isn’t much difference between Abbott and the Taliban).[28]

What Actual Evangelism Looks Like

This is not for you as school board trustees, but for the legislators bent on religious jihad responsible for this colossal waste of time, energy, and money to even consider replacing experienced and licensed mental health counselors with someone with an eight-week online certification.

The National Association of School Chaplains is unapologetically an effort to push Christianity in violation of the Constitutional prohibition against establishment of religion. That we have the freedom to worship God, or not, in the United States is a direct reflection of the free will that God gives to each of us.[29] God himself does not force us, why do Texas legislators put themselves above God?

You cannot force belief any more than you can force a relationship. God does not condemn or force us, but it is “the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.” (Romans 2:4) If the state legislature was truly concerned about the spread of the Gospel, they would be acting it out in caring for those in need rather than selling out the state to corporate interests and the oligarchs.

In the twenty years my daughters were in Humble ISD schools, we corporately and individually prayed for and with many of my girls’ classmates and families. We gave Bibles, invited to church, and discussed religion and life with many nonChristian friends. My daughter, Taylor, debated the Trinity in the locker room of Kingwood Park High School with her best friend from kindergarten, a Mormon, while a Muslim, a Jew, and an atheist listened in.

One of my professors, Holly Ordway says, “Books aren’t Christian, people are.” Just as books aren’t Christian, neither are schools. Christians are the people within them. And if the Christian life is not lived, it doesn’t matter what rules or procedures are in place. The Gospel is spread person to person, friend to friend, as it has been from the very beginning.

If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand anything, and if you think Christianity can spread by force and oppression without the Holy Spirit, you don’t know him at all.

This bill is shameful. It is both unAmerican and antiChrist. Please don’t waste any more time entertaining it.

I am forwarding this email to every member of the Texas legislature that voted for this insulting travesty of a bill, as well as to the FTC as that “certifying agency” makes claims that misrepresent its history and experience, as well as income potential for those who take the “certification.”

Sincerely,

Carla Alvarez, MAA
Houston, TX

P.S. I was forwarded Audra Deaver’s letter in support of chaplains in schools. She links to the “Common Code of Ethics for Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Pastoral Educators and Students” from the Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc. I am not sure why she linked to the Code of Conduct saved on Google Drive rather than to the document on the organizations own site. You can find it here.

It is deceptive for the Citizens Defending Freedom Foundation to use a code of conduct from an organization that requires extensive education and certification to confer legitimacy on a rogue association, the National School Chaplains Association, which has no such requirements or standards. BCC is closed for the Christmas holidays; however, I will be contacting them after the beginning of the year to verify with them if they are aware that individuals are using the credibility of their association to endorse the use of chaplains in schools. It is my understanding that professional chaplains have universally come out against SB 763.

If Ms. Deaver had read further through the Code of Conduct, she would have noticed that there are a number of standards which prohibit members from misrepresenting their qualifications or performing services beyond the scope of their education and certification … such as mental health counseling.

As for the rest of her letter, “Everyone else is doing it!” is not a valid argument for violating both state licensing laws and the U.S. Constitution.

Endnotes

[1] James Madison, “Founders Online: Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, [ca. …,” National Archives: Founders Online (University of Virginia Press), accessed December 12, 2023, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-08-02-0163.

[2] Micah 2:1-2. NIV God doesn’t’ change and his judgment against these corrupt betrayers will be no less than what was visited upon the Israelites.

Micah 2:3-5 NIV

z Therefore, the Lord says:

“I am planning disaster against this people,

from which you cannot save yourselves.

You will no longer walk proudly,

for it will be a time of calamity.

4 In that day people will ridicule you;

they will taunt you with this mournful song:

‘We are utterly ruined;

my people’s possession is divided up.

He takes it from me!

He assigns our fields to traitors.’”

5 Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the Lord

to divide the land by lot.

[3] “FAQs – Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council,” Texas Behavioral Executive Council (blog), accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.bhec.texas.gov/texas-state-board-of-examiners-of-professional-counselors/faqs/index.html.

[4] “Qualifications for Board Certified & Associate Certified Chaplains,” Board of Chaplaincy Certification, Inc. (blog), accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.apchaplains.org/bcci-site/becoming-certified/qualifications-for-board-certified-associate-certified-chaplains/.

[5] Carla Alvarez, “Cheap Talk & Faith without Works,” Raised to Walk, June 21, 2023, https://raisedtowalk.org/sunday-thoughts/cheap-talk-faith-without-works/.

[6] Andrea Suozzo Roberts Alec Glassford, Ash Ngu, Brandon, “Mission Generation Inc – Nonprofit Explorer,” ProPublica, May 9, 2013, https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/760324439.

[7] Christopher Ahrens, “ROCKY MALLOY – Risen Magazine,” May 21, 2010, https://www.risenmagazine.com/rocky-malloy/, https://www.risenmagazine.com/rocky-malloy/.

[8] “The Cornerstone Series on Mike Warnke,” Cornerstone Magazine (blog), 1992, https://web.archive.org/web/20040201232706/http://www.cornerstonemag.com/features/iss098/warnke_index.htm.

[9] Richard Bartholomew, “Remembering ‘Lauren Stratford’, Fake Satanic Ritual Abuse Victim and Bogus Holocaust Survivor,” Bartholomew’s Notes (blog), June 14, 2015, https://barthsnotes.com/2015/06/14/remembering-lauren-stratford-fake-satanic-ritual-abuse-victim-and-bogus-holocaust-survivor/.

[10] Heather W. Smith, “New Allegations against Tim Ballard Claim Close Ties to Attorney General, LDS Church and More,” ABC 4, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.abc4.com/news/local-news/new-allegations-against-tim-ballard-claim-close-ties-to-attorney-general-lds-church-and-more/.

“The Dark Secret Behind the Sound of Freedom Movie,” RaisedtoWalkTV (YouTube, September 1, 2023), https://youtu.be/Zgh6c_eIHvU.

[11] Carla Alvarez, “How Our School Board Prepared Me for the Taliban,” Raised to Walk, May 30, 2023, https://raisedtowalk.org/sunday-thoughts/how-our-school-board-prepared-me-for-the-taliban/.

There is a screenshot of the National Association of School Chaplain website at the 42:23 minute mark that shows the listed qualifications when the bill passed. The date of the recording was May 29, 2023. At the time, “Level 1” consisted of unspecified “supplemental training” to include active shooter training. Level two ($350) was an 8-week class, and Level three ($10,500), one year of training through Oklahoma Christian University. Oklahoma Christian University is an unaccredited institution.

The association continues to change the requirements for certification. You can look on the Wayback Machine and see the evolution of the requirements listed on the website.

[12] “School Benefits — National School Chaplain Association,” NSCA, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.nationalschoolchaplainassociation.org/your-school.

[13] “School Benefits — National School Chaplain Association,” NSCA, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.nationalschoolchaplainassociation.org/your-school.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “School Benefits — National School Chaplain Association,” NSCA, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.nationalschoolchaplainassociation.org/your-school.

[17] Ibid.

[18] “School Benefits — National School Chaplain Association,” NSCA, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.nationalschoolchaplainassociation.org/your-school.

[19] “History of the Chaplaincy, Office of the Chaplain,” United States House of Representatives, accessed December 21, 2023, https://chaplain.house.gov/chaplaincy/history.html.

[20] “Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools,” Policy Guidance, U.S. Department of Education (US Department of Education (ED), May 15, 2023), https://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/religionandschools/prayer_guidance.html.

[21] “Pastoral Counseling vs. Clinical Counseling – What’s the Difference?,” CCI Counseling, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.ccicounseling.com/advice/pastoral-counseling-vs-clinical-counseling-whats-the-difference.

“Comparison of Three Helping Professions: Similarities, Differences, Overlaps” (Presbyterian Church, USA, 2009), https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/ministers/pdfs/comparison.pdf.

[22] H. Bruce Stokes, “Pastoral Counseling or Clinical Counseling: What’s the Difference?” (The Disciples Center, n.d.), https://www.disciplecenter.com/html/Pastoral_Counseling_or_Clinical_Counseling.pdf.

[23] “Texas Chaplains Say No to ‘Chaplains’ in Public Schools,” EveryAction, accessed December 12, 2023, https://secure.everyaction.com/6LbzbpsAaUGAeg9bQOai1A2.

[24] Carla Alvarez, “Does Anyone Want What You Have?,” Raised to Walk, August 7, 2023, https://raisedtowalk.org/sunday-thoughts/does-anyone-want-what-you-have/.

[25] Carla Alvarez, “What Praying for Revival Looks Like,” Raised to Walk, August 22, 2015, https://raisedtowalk.org/the-walk/what-praying-for-revival-looks-like/.

[26] C. M. Alvarez, “From the Green Book to The River: Lewis, Relativism, and Constructivism in Education,” An Unexpected Journal 1, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 121–41. https://anunexpectedjournal.com/from-the-green-book-to-the-river-lewis-relativism-and-constructivism-in-education/

[27] C. M. Alvarez, “Serenity and the Theodicy of Joss Whedon,” An Unexpected Journal 2, no. 2 (Summer 2019): 229–46. https://anunexpectedjournal.com/serenity-and-the-theodicy-of-joss-whedon/

[28] Javid Ahmad, “The Taliban’s Religious Roadmap for Afghanistan,” Middle East Institute, accessed December 12, 2023, https://www.mei.edu/publications/talibans-religious-roadmap-afghanistan.

[29] Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, IV.15.2.

I realize that the question of free will is one that is contested by Calvinists. However, Irenaeus of Lyon, the first systematic theologian and a disciple of Polycarp (who was taught by John the Beloved himself), points out in his second century work that if God does not allow free will, then he would not be just in judging wrong actions.

“But further, in another place he says: That Satan tempt you not for your incontinence. 1 Corinthians 7:5 If, therefore, even in the New Testament, the apostles are found granting certain precepts in consideration of human infirmity, because of the incontinence of some, lest such persons, having grown obdurate, and despairing altogether of their salvation, should become apostates from God — it ought not to be wondered at, if also in the Old Testament the same God permitted similar indulgences for the benefit of His people, drawing them on by means of the ordinances already mentioned, so that they might obtain the gift of salvation through them, while they obeyed the Decalogue, and being restrained by Him, should not revert to idolatry, nor apostatize from God, but learn to love Him with the whole heart. And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver (doctor) of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that many are called, but few chosen; Matthew 20:16 and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep’s clothing in the eyes of the world (foris); and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged (condemned) because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who have obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured with immortality.”

Contemporary philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, takes this argument further in his Free Will Defense. Not only can a just and good God allow us to exercise free will regardless of if we choose wrongly, but he must. Otherwise, he would neither be just nor good.

I explain this using Serenity by Joss Whedon in my essay, “Serenity and the Theodicy of Joss Whedon.”

C.M. Alvarez, “Serenity and the Theodicy of Joss Whedon,” An Unexpected Journal 2, no. 2. (Summer 2019): 230-247.

https://anunexpectedjournal.com/serenity-and-the-theodicy-of-joss-whedon/