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England prison appoints head prison chaplain who doesn't believe in God

by Tola Mbakwe

It's been revealed a person without any religious affiliation has been made a lead chaplain at an English prison for the first time. 

The 50-year-old woman, who remains anonymous, identifies as a Humanist and manages a team of 20 religious chaplains. 

She told national prisoners newspaper Inside Time: "I don't believe in God … If I go out to see somebody and they want to pray, I'll be honest and say - I won't pray with you, but I can come with you and you can pray in the chapel, or I can arrange for a religious chaplain to come with you instead." 

Chaplains in England and Wales are required to have a faith, whether it be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, etc. However, a managing chaplain does not have to be religious.

The woman told the newspaper other chaplains were a bit sceptical about her taking on the role, but have now warmed up to the idea.   

With a background of teaching English and Maths in prisons, she started the role six months ago. The prison has asked not to be named. She's in stepping in for someone who's on sick leave.

Since being in the role, the managing chaplain has restarted Friday prayers and Sunday services after Covid restrictions meant they had to stop. She has also started a Buddhist meditation class. 

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