A chaplain who worked in Guilford County’s High Point jail ministering to inmates has been terminated by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department and the department is now reviewing the ministerial services contracts for both the Greensboro and High Point jails.
The Sheriff’s Department was upset by comments that jail chaplain Rick Taylor made in the High Point Enterprise on Friday, March 29. In that article, Taylor was quoted as saying, “My job is just to show them Christ and do it the best I can. It is pointedly Christian and evangelical.” He also said, “If you’re a Muslim in here, you’re gonna’ get a Bible as well as a Quran, because that’s my mandate.”
Over the weekend, the Sheriff’s Department sent out a statement that greatly distanced the department from those remarks and stressed that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department is tolerant of all religions and religious practices among jail inmates.
In the High Point Enterprise article, Taylor also made some remarks questioning the value of 12-step programs and non-faith-based recovery programs in the jail – programs that Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers and others in the department consider valuable for inmate rehabilitation.
On Sunday, March 31, Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Max Benbassat told the Rhino Times that the department would consider what action to take on Monday, April 1. That morning, it fired Taylor.
The April 1 statement from the department, which is certainly no April Fool’s Day joke, states, “Mr. Rick Taylor is no longer providing Chaplaincy services for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is reviewing contracts with both providers in Greensboro and High Point Detention Facilities.”
It adds that the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department wants to state explicitly that the views Taylor expressed do not reflect “the procedures within the High Point Detention Facility nor the views of the Sheriff’s Office or Sheriff Danny Rogers.”
The press release goes on to say, “The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office recognizes that all inmates are free to worship the religion of their choice. Further, the comments made diminishing mental health, addiction and depression/suicide are not reflective of our stance on the medical and mental health care of those in custody. The Sheriff’s Office has robust medical, mental health, and 12 step programs and understand the complexities associated with these issues.”
It concludes: “On behalf of this Department, we wish to express our understanding and respect of all religions [sic] denominations.”
According to Benbassat, the ministry employing Taylor has been serving the county’s jails for over a decade.