Demand dropped that prison chaplains be armed

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The federal Bureau of Prisons has granted chaplains a religious accommodation so they are no longer required to be armed with pepper spray when they counsel inmates.

The new ruling was revealed by Liberty Counsel, which defended the officers when the dispute arose a few months ago.

The change, announced Friday, means the chaplains can “minister to inmates without violating their own faith convictions,” said Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver.

“There is nothing wrong with carrying defensive weapons like OC spray, except when a chaplain’s convictions require him to be armed not with physical weapons, but with spiritual. As President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have instructed, federal agencies must protect religious liberty in the federal workplace and provide reasonable accommodations for religious free exercise,” Staver said.

“We are pleased that the Bureau of Prisons has accommodated the religious beliefs of our clients, so that they may return to ministry,” he said.

The chaplains long had had exemptions from such requirements, but those were lifted after the adoption of the Eric Williams Correctional Officer Protection Act of 2015.

Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”

The law required that federal correctional officers generally, but not chaplains specifically, carry OC spray and be trained in its use.

Then the BOP “began to punish chaplains who requested relief from the new directive,” the report from Liberty Counsel explained.

“For example, one chaplain was ordered off the premises of a correctional institution after he had requested a religious accommodation. Others were subjected to various forms of coercion, both overt and subtle. Between the act’s passage and the retaliation against the chaplains, BOP first said the act would not Click to see the original article