A chaplain who worked with inmates at the Guilford County Jail in High Point has been relieved of his services, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office confirms.
Rick Taylor was let go from the position as chaplain on Monday, April 1. Taylor is an evangelist who had worked with the High Point Jail Ministry since October 2018.
Taylor had recently made comments deemed controversial that were published by a local newspaper.
According to an article in the High Point Enterprise, Taylor said he would give Bibles to Muslim inmates, some of whom would "push their Quran across" the table and say they "don't need that" after getting the Bible. Taylor also made comments about depression and mental health treatment and programs at the jail, the article says.
"I did not tell anybody to take a Bible, I always asked whether they would like a Bible," said Taylor.
Taylor added that the interview was approved by his superiors in the jail, to speak about the successes of the inmate ministry program at the jail.
In a statement to WFMY News 2, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office said:
"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."
An earlier statement dated March 30 reacted to the comments made by Taylor;
"Regarding the article published in the High Point Enterprise on March 29, 2019 interviewing the High Pont Jail Chaplain, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office wants to explicitly state that the views and the comments made by Mr. Taylor do not reflect the procedures within the High Point Detention Facility nor the views of the Sheriff's Office or Sheriff Danny Rogers. 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. On behalf of this Department, we wish to express our understanding and respect of all religious denominations."
Taylor who has worked in inmate ministry for more than 30 years is a volunteer employee of the High Point Jail Ministry. Chair of the Ministry's board Dawn Bingham sent this statement to WFMY:
"The High Point Jail Ministry has enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the Sheriff's office of Guilford County for 25 years or more, beginning with Chaplain Brice. We are saddened by the recent turn of events. We are a Christian organization; BUT, we strive to show God's love to all. The High Point Jail Ministry's mandate is to serve all inmates, regardless of race or religion. We try to accommodate requests made by inmates within the confines of the rules of the Guilford County Sheriff's Office (Detention Center.) Our desire is that inmates will exit the jail and become productive citizens - whether they are helped by the AA, NA, mental health programs, and/ or through a relationship with Jesus Christ."
Bingham said the High Point Jail Ministry is still in contract with the Guilford County Jail. Taylor says while he would miss working with the inmates and helping them with their spiritual life while in incarceration, he will continue his ministry in other ways.