The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked Texas’ Trinity Independent School District to get rid of its official chaplain and ensure that district employees cease proselytizing to students.
Multiple district community members have reported concerns about Charles Kibble, the district’s “Mental Health Interventionist” who has reportedly handed out Christian materials to students and acted as an official district chaplain. The community members reported that he has given dozens of students the “Truth for Youth” bible. According to the publisher's website, “Truth for Youth® features God’s Word Translation New Testament and 100 pages of powerful, full-color comic stories that present the 'absolute truth' about issues that young people are confronted with.” Some of the issues mentioned in this bible include “sexual purity,” “evolution,” “abortion” and “homosexuality.”
“The district cannot employ an official chaplain, and it must make certain that none of its employees are unlawfully and inappropriately indoctrinating students in religious matters by handing out religious materials or promoting their personal religious beliefs,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Superintendent John Kaufman. “We ask that the district immediately investigate this situation and ensure that Mr. Kibble either fully complies with the Establishment Clause and stops violating the rights of students and their parents, or is removed from his position within the district.”
It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a public school may not advance, prefer or promote religion, FFRF insists. The district has an obligation under the law to make certain that teachers and other employees “do not inculcate religion.”
This school-sponsored proselytizing is, unfortunately, not surprising. FFRF previously dealt with Kaufman in 2015 when he was superintendent of Mount Vernon Independent School District. While he was superintendent, the district regularly endorsed Christianity. Among those violations, the district displayed at least seven bible quotes on the walls of its schools, including a quote misattributed to George Washington: “It is impossible to govern a nation without God and the Bible.”
“It’s alarming that there’s so much official flaunting of religion happening in a public school system,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor remarks. “This must end at once.”
FFRF is a national nonprofit organization with over 36,000 members and several chapters across the country, including nearly 1,600 members and a chapter in Texas. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.