Alarmed by a high crime rate in Harvey, Ill., the mayor of the Chicago suburb appointed six as municipal chaplains. The town of 30,000 had 11 murders, 42 rapes and more than 800 car thefts in 2002.
This year, the town's police and fire departments will alert the chaplains in emergencies, when crime or disaster victims may need comfort. Mayor Eric J. Kellog, who believes the city's problems are primarily spiritual, is also seeking Muslim and Jewish chaplains.
But civil libertarians are sounding an alarm. "The idea that a mayor can decide that everybody needs spiritual help and the government is going to furnish it--that's unparalleled," Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told the Chicago Tribune.
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers