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Athiest group wants La Crosse PD to stop using volunteer chaplains

LA CROSSE, WI (WTAQ) - A Wisconsin athiest group wants La Crosse Police to stop using volunteer chaplains.

Madison's Freedom from Religion Foundation says the unpaid chaplains represent a government endorsement of religion -- and therefore, they violate the separation of church and state.

La Crosse Police have used chaplains for 13 years to join officers at emergency scenes, help them notify families of deaths, and be an ear for officers struggling with personal and work problems.

In a letter, Freedom from Religion attorney Patrick Elliott said the use of on the job chaplains ignores the needs of non-Christians -- and if they were to provide only secular therapy, they'd be nothing more than therapists.

Head police chaplain Mark Clements says the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that volunteer chaplains are acceptable for police to use. He tells the La Crosse Tribune that police are careful to make sure its program follows the terms of that ruling.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)