If members of the Kansas government feel the need for spiritual solace

Rob Boston at Americans United reports on theocracy in Kansas.

Suppose you have a job at a private company. Suppose some of your colleagues do a bible study thing in their lunch hour. You and your friends have a secular sandwich together and all’s well. (Unless the bible studiers are hogging the break room.)

But then suppose it’s the boss who suggested the bible study, and the boss attends regularly. Hmm. Could the boss be using attendance as points toward promotions and raises? All’s not entirely well then.

Now suppose it’s not a private company, but a government office. Major problem.

A scenario like this is playing out in Kansas, a state that has been experimenting with a sort of de facto“faith-based” government under Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Courtney Canfield, a business-filing specialist at the Secretary of State’s Office, says she was fired in 2013 because she declined to attend a Christian service that was heavily promoted by Assistant Secretary of State Eric Rucker.

Canfield’s complaint alleges that the Secretary of State’s Office routinely invited employees to attend services conducted by Dave DePue, a minister who acts as a sort of “unofficial pastor” to Kansas lawmakers and officials, reported the Wichita Eagle.

See, that’s not cool, even without the firing. That’s embarrassingly theocratic.

“These invitations were distributed during normal business hours and included a ‘prayer guide’ to be utilized at that week’s service,” Canfield’s lawsuit reads. “Despite the repeated invitations, Plaintiff never attended such a service. While Plaintiff was a Methodist, she did not regularly attend church services or otherwise practice any particular religious beliefs in any way.”

And you know what? That’s none of her boss’s business. Her boss has state power, therefore he has no business pushing anyone to attend “services” of any kind.

All of this could have been avoided if officials in Kansas spent more time doing their jobs and less time worrying about the spiritual lives of their employees.

A good first step would be to send that “unofficial” chaplain packing. The capital of Kansas is Topeka, and the city and its surrounding metropolitan area have a population of about 234,000. There appears to be no shortage of houses of worship there.

If members of the Kansas government feel the need for spiritual solace, let them avail themselves of one of those.

If they can’t stand to work for eight or nine hours without refreshing church services mixed in, they should get jobs in those houses of worship instead of the state government.

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