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When Faiths Collide

by IAN DEMSKY

Prison chaplain struggles with new multiple-faith rule – Tom Suss loves his job. A chaplain at McNeil Island prison, he’s been with the state Department of Corrections for more than 15 years. “It’s really a privilege to work there,” the 63-year-old Catholic priest said in a recent interview. “When there’s the opportunity to facilitate someone’s realization of living differently, of making better choices, there’s just no better high than that.” But Suss took a voluntary leave of absence at the beginning of the year because a new Corrections Department policy allowing inmates to profess multiple religions has put his faith into conflict with his duties as a state employee.

CAN YOU BE A PAGAN CHRISTIAN? Suss said, an inmate at McNeil Island decided to become both Catholic and Asatru, a movement harkening back to the pre-Christian paganism of Europe and Scandinavia. For the priest, this presented a dilemma. “Common sense says you cannot be a pagan Christian,” he said. “As a state chaplain, I must endorse state policy. I have to be willing to endorse this inmate’s freedom to be both religions at the same time, but my own convictions being a Catholic priest don’t allow for a Catholic to be a pagan at the same time.”

Read the original article at: News Tribune

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