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What Makes Public Schools Think Evangelical Preachers Are Qualified Grief Counselors?


Florida, Texas, and other Republican-controlled states are considering giving public school access to preachers under the guise of them providing counseling services. The Satanic Temple, recognizing that doing so is a serious violation of the separation of church and state, has asked the state of Florida to allow their chaplains to be part of the program.

The Christian Post reports:

Two bills recently introduced in the Florida Legislature that would allow volunteer chaplains to provide counseling services in public schools have prompted The Satanic Temple to threaten legal action if its members are barred from participating.

Senate Bill 1044 and its companion House Bill 931, which already passed the Florida House of Representatives last month, would also mandate that principals in schools with volunteer chaplains tell parents about it and offer them a list of the volunteers, all of whom will be subject to a background check.

Parents will be allowed to choose from the list of chaplains and allow their children to receive counseling with written permission, though representatives from The Satanic Temple have expressed a desire for their chaplains to be included in such offerings.

“Any opportunity that exists for ministers or chaplains in the public sector must not discriminate based on religious affiliation,” Penemue Grigori, who serves as The Satanic Temple’s director of ministry, told The Tallahassee Democrat.

“Our ministers look forward to participating in opportunities to do good in the community, including the opportunities created by this bill, right alongside the clergy of other religions.”

Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple, spoke out against what he described as the legislation’s attempt to allow a back door for religious instruction and “proselytizing evangelism” in Florida’s public schools, according to Fox News Digital.

“In an effort to dismiss concerns about bringing religious viewpoints into schools, advocates for chaplain bills have a scripted response that insists their interest is in merely providing additional ’emotional support’ for potentially troubled youth,” Greaves told the outlet.

“If that were true, they could simply be calling upon volunteers who hold licensure as counselors to offer their services in the schools in their communities.”

Greaves also said that school districts can expect legal action if satanic priests are prohibited from participating in the chaplain program, which would go into effect on July 1 and largely be left for individual districts to govern, according to local Fox 35.

“They should also not want to waste public funds on a lawsuit that’s certainly going to lose because of some superfluous effort to put chaplains in schools on a false rationale,” Greaves told the outlet.

Florida state Sen. Erin Grall, a Republican who represents Vero Beach, did not immediately respond to The Christian Post’s request for comment but said she is concerned about the potential of satanic priests taking advantage of the legislation she sponsored.

“But I think that as soon as we get in the middle of defining what is religion and what is not, and whether or not someone can be available and be on a list, we start to run up to constitutional problems,” Grall said, according to The Tallahassee Democrat.

“So I think that us making sure that it’s open and available to anybody who wants to put themselves through the background screening, and let parents know they’re available for that service, is the best way to go,” she added.

The Satanic Temple, of course, doesn’t want chaplains in schools, at all. Only educated, credentialed people should be counseling students, especially during times of grief and tragedy. Why is it that Evangelical preachers rush to schools every time there is a mass shooting or other tragedy that causes the loss of student or teacher lives? What makes them qualified to provide counseling services?

Most Evangelical preachers are not educated, licensed counselors. Oh, they took a class or three in college about counseling or the evils of secular counseling or nouthetic (Bible-based) counseling, but lack the comprehensive training licensed social workers and psychologists have. Simply put, they are not qualified to be school counselors/chaplains.

The bills in Florida and Texas are attempts to infiltrate public schools with Evangelical dogma; to evangelize children and indoctrinate them in the teachings of the Bible. Much like Lifewise Academy’s infiltration of public schools with their Evangelical release time program, the goal is evangelization, and not genuinely helping people who are grieving or have other mental health needs. Certainly, some preachers are qualified to provide such services, BUT, it must be made clear to them that they must check their theology at the door. Help can be provided without preaching, quoting the Bible, or invitations to church on Sunday.

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Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    Preachers in schools, qualified or not, have no business there in the role of preacher. I am reminded of a teacher at Lincoln in Bryan who had the class recite the Lord’s prayer. Third grade I think. None of us thought anything of it but I remembered it later when I knew better. As punishment for indoctrinating other people’s kids, she deserved a spanking with that big decorated paddle hanging on the wall up front. I don’t recall her name, being in her class briefly before moving. I clearly recall the prayer being proud I knew the words.

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    ‘“So I think that us making sure that it’s open and available to anybody who wants to put themselves through the background screening, and let parents know they’re available for that service, is the best way to go,” she added.’

    Now that is just brilliant. So anyone, for any reason, of any background, can apply to be volunteer counselor? Does this mean I can create the Church of the Glittery Blue Unicorn, register as a minister where required, then become a counselor in a school??

    I mean, I have the background. I am a preachers kid, and had 18 years of training on dealing with life events – births, deaths, job loss, family issues, interpersonal relationships and how a religious belief can be used in those cases.

    The last thing you want is some minister performing counseling services. I will give father credit in that he limited his counseling to helping with spiritual growth and didn’t delve into family or mental health issues.

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    Counseling volunteers should be credentialed and go through a background check. Obviously, this is an attempt by Christians to get access to children for indoctrination purposes, and the state not wanting to pay licensed counselors on staff. I am always glad to see TST stepping up when there is religious (usually Christian) overreach.

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      You hit it. It’s about getting access to spread their ideology. I had an experience with an evangelical couple volunteering as foster parents. They fostered the 8 year old of a single Mother client of mine who was hospitalized. The Mother became alarmed when her child after a couple weeks began robotically chanting about Jesus and Satan and salvation, etc. When Mother complained to the agency, the couple said if they couldn’t give their religion to kids, they didn’t want to foster. Their prime motive was obviously indoctrination,, not helping. The child was removed from that home but a mere two or three weeks indoctrination stuck with her. It was frighteningly quick, effective, and lasting. Young children are blank pages, particularly vulnerable to brainwashing. Ideologues should neve have access to them.

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        TheDutchGuy, that’s truly frightening. You’re correct, children are sponges. I am so glad my husband and I chose not to indoctrinate our kids with religion. After I had my “faith crisis” when our kids were in the age range of 5-8 we decided to leave it up to them to ask questions if they were interested but leave it up to them as adults to seek religion. By the time they were teens and my in-laws figured out we were atheist (we told them lol), our kids were impervious to proselytizing efforts from their grandparents. Our teens saw religion as mythology – maybe amusing stories, but certainly not something to believe as true or as a life guide. They thought a lot of it was just weird, and they certainly didn’t want any part of food rules, fasting, clothing rules, cannibalistic rituals, water cleansing rituals, etc.

        At least those foster parents admitted they were only into fostering in order to proselytize. Ugh.

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    “Why is it that Evangelical preachers rush to schools every time there is a mass shooting or other tragedy that causes the loss of student or teacher lives?”

    The same reason why Evangelical preachers–or Evangelicals in general–prey upon anyone else who has experienced a devastating loss. Or is simply sad or lonely. They see vulnerability as an opportunity to “win souls.”

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