October 11, 2012
Canada Cuts Almost All Non-Christian Prison Chaplains
Government cuts contracts for part-time Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and Jewish chaplains.
Of the 23,000 inmates in Canadian federal prisons, 57 percent identify themselves as Christians. But following a government-issued cut to chaplain contracts this week, nearly 100 percent of remaining chaplains in those prisons will be Christian.
The Canadian federal government announced that it would cancel contracts for all part-time prison chaplains, a move that will affect 18 non-Christian and 31 Christian chaplains. After these contracts end in March 2013, the federal prison system will employ 80 full-time chaplains, 79 of whom are Christian.
The government defended its decision by saying it intends to move toward a multi-faith model like the one used by the Canadian military. The full-time chaplains are to minister to all inmates and coordinate pastoral care for those of minority faiths by inviting local clergy to volunteer, RNS reports.
According to a statement from a spokeswoman for minister of public safety Vic Toews, "The Government of Canada is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding. The Minister has concluded his review and has decided that chaplains employed by [the Correctional Service of Canada] must provide services to inmates of all faiths.”
CT has previously reported on the growing community of prison churches for inmates, on the growth of Islam among U.S. inmates, and on the death and work of Chuck Colson, who founded the worldwide Prison Fellowship ministry.