Ohio: 76 Clergy members petition state police force to preserve Christian chaplaincy

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A group of 76 clergy members in Ohio has asked the chief of Mansfield Police Department to preserve that force’s chaplaincy program despite a request from the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) that it be disbanded as unconstitutional, CBN News reports.

While the FFRF asserts that the government-run police force should have a secular support service rather than a Christian chaplaincy, the clergy point out that there are many police force chaplaincy programs all around the country.

Following the recent appointment of clergyman Pastor Chad Hayes as police chaplain of Mansfield Police, the FFRF wrote to Department Chief Keith Porch attesting that police chaplaincies are unconstitutional.

“Government chaplains may only exist as an accommodation of a public employee’s religious beliefs when the government makes it difficult or impossible to seek out private ministries,” the FFRF said in its letter. “For instance, it may be difficult for military service members to find a place of worship while on a mission in a foreign country or for an inmate in a prison to find a way to worship.”

Responding to the possibility that the chaplaincy program may be discontinued, the 76 Mansfield clergy wrote their own letter to Porch.

“If what the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) purports is true, that chaplains are unconstitutional, there would be no chaplains in the country,” the clergy said in their letter. “Truth be told, police chaplain programs abound throughout the country, even in cities where the FFRF has sent letters questioning their constitutionality.”

“With law enforcement morale at an all-time low nationally, and with depression, divorce, and suicide plaguing the police profession, as clergymen from seventy-six (76) diverse congregations across Richland County, we believe the City of Mansfield should retain its chaplaincy program in order to adequately support the social and emotional well-being of department personnel,” the clergy asserted.

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