The following article was published in the Restorative Justice News
August, 2001, Vol. 2, No. 2

State Chaplains to Get a Small Boost

By Dr. M. G. Maness

State Chaplains for TDCJ, TYC and MHMR will receive a small, one pay group raise after 35+ years.  How did this happen?

Lots of help came from many friends of Chaplains and friends of religion and religious freedom.

A simple conversation with Texas Representative Dan Ellis in Woodville took place about two years ago.  Dr. M. G. Maness, TDCJ Chaplain, met with Representative Ellis and presented a small Professional Equity study that compared the salaries of chaplains with several others in TDCJ.  As a general presentation, it did not focus exclusively upon chaplains, but highlighted several oddities, including how out of kilter the pay ranges were for even the rank and file and wardens in comparison with others.

One thing lead to another.  One study lead to another.  The more one looked at the pay scale of Chaplains in the light of the chaplains’ education, experience and contribution, the more the pay scale was out of touch with fair labor practices.  No other degreed profession in Texas had been so treated and had gone so long without normal adjustments.  And chaplains were being hired with no formal education whatsoever.

Dr. Maness asked several senior chaplains to meet in Huntsville with several others, among them were Carol Vance, former Chairmen of TDCJ, and Emmett Solomon, President of the Restorative Justice Network Ministries.  The next day, another meeting held with Representative Dan Ellis and others.  After that meeting, and with the support of Ellis, the cause of “Chaplain Professional Equity--Parity” was initiated.  Maness facilitated other senior chaplains in the five TDCJ regions who organized themselves and in turn lead other chaplains, volunteers and friends.  Maness developed some legislative resources for chaplains and devoted his web site to hosting the resources and growing literature on Chaplain Professional Equity:

Several significant volunteers and volunteer groups joined.  Several leaders of denominations gave endorsement.  The cause of Chaplain Professional Equity affected all religions, as this was about the “Value” of religion itself.  Indeed, this was and is about the value of Human History’s Greatest Resource for change -- Religion. 

Throughout the two years, the “Professional Equity” cause went through several phases as options and strategies were tossed about.  Among the evolutions, at one point, serious consideration was given to a Texas State Chaplaincy Commission.  Should not all the Professional Chaplains in Texas be able to meet together and learn from each other?  Eventually, as discussions were held with key legislators, two legislative bills were adopted that would look at chaplaincy reclassification.

Dr. Maness compiled and edited the frontline justification entitled, Chaplain Professional Equity--Parity Proposal, the work outlined the rationale and justification for true Chaplain Professional Equity.  Dr. Vance Drum and Dr. Timothy Simmons were signatories.  More than 45 state chaplains signed on by then.  Many more volunteers and friends of several faith groups and within several religions made significant contacts.

The Chaplain Professional Equity proposal was sent out to several significant persons and leaders throughout the state, including all the members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee.

When Dan Ellis’ HB 2460 came up for public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee, Emmett Solomon, President of Restorative Justice Ministries, Suzii Paynter, BGCT Christian Life Commission, and Dr. M. G. Maness testified about the need and fairness of Chaplain Professional Equity.  A surprising and welcome turn events followed.

House Chairman Rob Junell questioned a representative of the state auditor’s office and several others and directed a immediate review of the proposal.  Soon after, a meeting with the state auditor’s office took place, but did not go well, as the state auditor’s representatives did not seem to see the need for any real review or any serious consideration of chaplains or the chaplaincy proposal.

For many years, even decades, there has been some opposition to chaplaincy growth and upgrading chaplains.  Many simply did not see the need and have articulated reasons reflecting low attrition and ignoring clear data on the huge contribution of chaplains and the chaplaincy services.  Last year TDCJ leadership in charge of chaplaincy services said explicitly that no growth was anticipated.  The state auditor’s representatives made clear that some just did not value credentialed chaplains;  that is, within the most hostile environments in Texas and dealing with Texas’ most needy persons, the evaluators of chaplaincy services felt no need to support fully credentialed chaplains with professional equity.  Instead, support has been given to a very unprofessional trend in hiring chaplains without any college or any formal training at all. 

The cause of Chaplain Professional Equity went on to the Conference Committee (a special committee appointed to work out the differences between Senate and House in the General Appropriations Bill).  With significant help from Rob Junell and Dan Ellis, money was found and a rider was added in the last hour.  All three levels of Chaplains will get a one pay group boost.

This was a great and praiseworthy development.  While not Professional Equity, it was indeed a GREAT step forward.

The larger story is still unfolding.  So many, from so many parts of the state helped.  Even while being negotiated in the Conference Committee, many friends of the chaplaincy services and constituents of the Conference Committee members came forward in support.  So very many good people helped.

Professional Equity for Texas’ own Chaplains still remains a great need.  Perhaps in the next session another look will be given.  The full proposal and many other documents can be read on-line at: and you can e-mail Dr. Maness at