Satanic Temple Seeks to Introduce Ministers in Oklahoma Public Schools if “Chaplain Bill” Becomes Law

The Baphomet statue is seen in the conversion room at the Satanic Temple in Salem, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)

The Satanic Temple (TST) has announced plans to deploy its ministers as chaplains in public schools across the state following the House’s recent legislation.

Senate Bill 36, which permits the presence of volunteer chaplains within educational institutions, has passed the House and now awaits Senate approval.

Oklahoma, currently under Republican control in both the legislative and executive branches, might see the bill enacted as soon as November 1 if it passes the Senate.

The proposed bill stipulates rigorous checks for those aspiring to be school chaplains. Background checks are mandatory and individuals with a history as registered sex offenders or felony convictions are disqualified from the role. Additionally, any form of child abuse, negligence, or conduct deemed morally questionable can result in termination, KTUL reported.

Tulsa World reported that SB 36 would permit districts to hire chaplains, whether paid or volunteer. These requirements include an endorsement from a “faith group” confirming that the individual is:

  1. A minister, rabbi, priest, imam, lay leader, or similar functionary of the faith group;
  2. Qualified morally, intellectually, and emotionally to serve as a chaplain; and
  3. Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all students.

Representative Kevin West, R-Moore, who sponsored the bill in the House, likens the role of school chaplains to those serving in military or emergency services, emphasizing the potential for chaplains to assist with personal struggles related to peer pressure, family, and emotional distress.

“A lot of the topics that chaplains wind up talking to people about are peer pressure, family issues, anger, grief, and loss,” West said, according to Tulsa World. “Teachers are tested at the same level of stress and anxiety as first responders. One thing that’s missing that’s available to first responders? A chaplain.”

TST has seized this opportunity to promote “religious plurality and community service.”

“While we would prefer states to invest in professional counselors over unlicensed religious support for students, we are prepared to adapt to these legislative conditions,” said Rachel Chambliss, TST’s Executive Director of Operations.

“We are committed to offering compassionate guidance to students who come to us so that we can help make positive changes in their lives by listening to their needs and providing support.

According to Chambliss, having TST Ministers in the state’s school system would aid in equal religious representation.

Tulsa World reported:

Opponents argued that trained counselors and psychologists are a better solution, if that is the goal.

They said SB 36, at best, will have minimal impact. At worst, said Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, it is an attempt to further insert “Christian nationalism, Dominionism, the New Apostolic Reformation and the Seven Mountain Tenants” into public schools.

At a more basic level, opponents were concerned that bringing in a chaplain from one faith or faction would lead to community quarrels and create legal liabilities.

There was also some concern about the effect on faith.

“The quickest way to kill and erode the value of religious faith in Oklahoma is to cloak it in the coercive power of the state,” said Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa.

“History tells us that when you give the power of the state to religion you degrade them both,” he said.

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