In the community where you live, who pays for the police department? You do, right? Your tax dollars support your city police and/or county sheriff, right? Law enforcement is a well recognized function of the state that even the most rabidly conservative anti-big-government sort values. So how do you feel about your tax dollars going to pay for police chaplains?
If you've ever wondered what a police chaplain does, you might be interested in this article from the Faith News Network. I have no idea how representative it is, but it does describe the day-to-day life of one particular police chaplain in quite a bit of detail.
While reading it, I began to wonder how I would feel if I realized that an officer with whom I was interacting was a chaplain. I imagined such an officer coming to give me bad news and wondered whether it would bother me even a little that he or she was a chaplain. I decided that it probably would make me feel uncomfortable. The blurring of police power with religion seems like a dangerous mixture to this atheist.
As this thought faded, I realized that the real issue was that I would be indirectly paying for such an individual. As a taxpaying citizen, I would be helping to pay the salary of a police chaplain. In fact, it strikes me as fairly likely that I am currently helping to pay the salary of at least one police chaplain! I don't mind supporting local law enforcement one bit, but I would like my support to be reality-based. I'd rather buy bullets than prayers. I'd rather buy fuel for their cars than sponsor superstition.
Tags: police, law enforcement, police chaplain, religion, atheist, church and state