Until this week, Rick Taylor served as the chaplain at High Point Jail in North Carolina, a job he began last October.
In theory, a chaplain in that role is supposed to help prisoners deal with their thoughts and fears through a spiritual lens. Maybe those chaplains moderate religious conversations, offer counseling, lead worship services, etc.
What they can’t do is try to convert everyone. You can imagine how that would go over if we were talking about a Muslim or Hindu chaplain. It’s also the reason Humanist chaplains in the military shouldn’t be a big deal — it wouldn’t be their job to try to get people to stop believing in God.
Yet in an interview with the High Point Times over the weekend, Taylor made it clear to reporter Lee O. Sanderlin that he did everything he could to preach his religion and convert Muslims to Christianity.
“My job is just to show them Christ and do it the best I can,” Taylor said. “It is pointedly Christian and evangelical.”
… It’s his belief that God saves, and he shares it with everyone, including “the Jews, and the Muslims and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
“If you’re a Muslim in here, you’re gonna’ get a Bible as well as a Quran, because that’s my mandate,” Taylor said. “I don’t care what their condition is, my mandate is to present Christ to them. Luckily, I’ve had a number of them since I’ve been here that’s sat down at the table, pushed their Quran across and said, ‘I don’t need that anymore, because I’ve been reading that Bible you gave me.’
… What the hell? It’s absolutely not his mandate to present Christ to people. This isn’t church.
Taylor went on to claim that mental illness and recovery programs weren’t really useful because what the prisoners really needed was — wait for it — more Jesus.
“The majority are not suffering from what would be considered a mental health issue,” he said. “They’re just suffering from human beings being human beings. Left to our natural tendencies, it’s a wonder we don’t all end up in here. I run across very, very few that I think need to be clinically treated.”
“If I had my way, the (addiction groups) stuff would be minimal because it’s very old, it’s not Christ-centered, and my success rate on getting them concerned with the first thing is unbelievably good compared to the rest of them,” Taylor said.
The same goes for those battling depression.
Got that, researchers and scientists? You don’t know what you’re talking about because you think rehab programs are useful. But they can’t be because you only rely on evidence and facts to justify your beliefs instead of throwing the Bible at people…
The good news is that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office saw the article and fired Taylor yesterday:
Regarding the article published in the High Point Enterprise on March 29, 2019 interviewing the High Pont Jail Chaplain, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office wants to explicitly state that the views and the comments made by Mr. Taylor donot reflect the procedures within the High Point Detention Facility nor the views of the Sheriff’s Office or Sheriff Danny Rogers. The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that all inmates are free to worship the religion of their choice. Further, the comments made diminishing mental health, addiction and depression/suicide are not reflective of our stance on the medical and mental health care of those in custody. The Sheriff’s Office has robust medical, mental health, and 12 step programs and understand the complexities associated with these issues.
On behalf of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, we wish to express our understanding and respect of all religions denominations.
They added in an update that Taylor was “no longer providing Chaplaincy services” for their office and that other contracts with providers were being reviewed.
If government agencies want to make chaplains available, they need to lay out the ground rules from the beginning and open the position to people of any faith and no faith, as long as they meet the necessary requirements. Taylor broke his trust the moment he began telling prisoners they needed Jesus. (They don’t. They never do.)
If a Muslim chaplain even attempted to do what he did, there would be hell to pay. But in theory, there should be no difference in how a Muslim and Christian chaplain perform their job. Taylor’s the only person who doesn’t seem to realize this.
This morning, he posted a message on Facebook saying he was no longer affiliated with the Jail Ministry:
The rest of his Facebook feed, however, is a litany of insane right-wing memes, including ones that are just blatantly anti-Islamic, equating every radical Muslim he can find with every Muslim period.
This is the guy whose responsibility it was to provide spiritual care for Muslim inmates. The Sheriff’s Office needs to learn how to vet these people. Or else they should eliminate the position altogether.
By Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist