Meeting Public Comments

Subcommittee meeting and times are as follows:
A bill for an act authorizing school districts, charter schools, and innovation zone schools to employ chaplains, or engage volunteer chaplains, to provide services to students.
Subcommittee members: Gehlbach-CH, Hora, Kurth
Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2024
Time: 12:00 PM - 12:30 PM
Location: RM 103, Sup. Ct. Chamber
Names and comments are public records. Remaining information is considered a confidential record.
Comments Submitted:

Nikolas Nartowicz [Americans United for Separation of Church and State]
Americans United for Separation of Church and State urges you to oppose HF 2073, which would allow public schools to employ chaplains or approve them as volunteers. You should reject this bill because it will undoubtedly violate the religious freedom of students who have the right to attend school free from religious coercion and to feel welcome in their school regardless of their religious beliefs. Furthermore, students deserve to have qualified counselors. Please see the attached letter for more details.
Angie Hance [Parent, Grandparent, taxpayer, voter]
The first amendment's Establishment Clause prohibits the government from making actions that unduly favor one religion over another. In case you don't know, most chaplains in America are Christians. By virtue of this law, you are promoting Christianity over other religions practiced in the United States. To be clear, I am a Christian. However I do not believe it's appropriate in schools to have chaplains wandering around promoting religious concepts without oversight and without the permission of parents. I seem to recall that one of Reynold's wishes around the survey/books/nicknames legislation was that parents should have complete control over their children's lives. This seems to go against my very simplistic description of that legislation. Texas tried this in the late 90's and a federal trial court invalidated the program, finding it in violation of the First Amendment. "It was not neutral with regard to faith and conveyed the message that religion is preferable to a lack of religion. While another bill has been enacted in Texas, it is likely it will be struck down due to the same reasons. A pastor in Indianapolis stated this I have far more than two years of experience in pastoral counseling as a pastor, and I can tell you that I am in no way prepared or qualified either academically or professionally to serve as a secular counselor or academic adviser or chaplain at a public school, Lesesne said. Seminaries do not require any courses in counseling, childhood, youth psychosocial development, or educational theory in order to receive a master of divinity degree. Public schools are not the place for religious instruction that is best left to houses of worship, religious institutions and families.
Geralyn Jones []
I am IN SUPPORT of this bill. As noted during the initial hearing of this bill, it was stated that the overall mental health of the student body improved dramatically and far less violence was reported, if any at all, in schools that had a chaplain. Students have been obliged into seeing a school counselor that has been assigned to them who offers advice that may veer from the parents fundamental right to determine the care, upbringing and education of their child. I believe having Chaplains available to the students during the school day, upon request, offers an option suitable for students to seek the spiritual counsel they wish to receive.
Oliver Bardwell [Iowans 4 Freedom]
I strongly support House File 2073, as it addresses a crucial need in our school system. Currently, the presence of chaplains in schools is often limited to times of tragedy and crisis. While their support during these moments is invaluable, our students could greatly benefit from having access to chaplain services on a more regular basis. This bill allows for the employment or engagement of chaplains in schools, not just as reactive measures during difficult times, but as a proactive and consistent source of guidance and support for our students.Having chaplains available in schools on an ongoing basis offers a multitude of benefits. It provides students with a stable source of emotional and spiritual support, which is especially important in today's fastpaced and often stressful educational environment. It also fosters a sense of community and belonging among students, helping them to navigate the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood with greater resilience.Furthermore, by not requiring students to utilize these services, the bill ensures that the presence of chaplains is a voluntary and nonintrusive option. This respectful approach honors the diverse beliefs and backgrounds of all students and their families, while providing an important resource for those who wish to take advantage of it.