NEW YORK – A jail chaplain in New York state's Rockland County has been suspended after she distributed religious booklets that condemn Islam, contain derogatory depictions of God and refer to the prophet Muhammad as a "religious dictator," jail officials said.
Teresa Darden Clapp, an ordained Christian minister and a chaplain at the jail since 1994, was suspended with pay on Thursday pending the outcome of an investigation to determine possible disciplinary action, the jail's chief, William Clark, told The Journal News in Friday editions.
The booklets characterize Muslims as worshipping an "idol" and devil called Allah, and portray the prophet Muhammad as a criminal and a "religious dictator." Allah is the Arabic word for God, and Muslims believe they worship the same God as Christians and Jews.
In the cartoon panel stories, a tract titled "Men of Peace?" says Islamic fundamentalists who commit terrorist acts are not "bad Muslims" but "very good Muslims" who act in accordance with their religion. Another tract, titled "Allah Has No Son," says Allah is not God, Muhammad was no prophet and the Quran is not the word of God.
The title of that tract bears a resemblance to one of the Quran's shorter chapters which says that God has no creator and has not begotten anyone. Unlike Christians, Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, like Mohammed and Moses, and not the son of God.
Both cartoon stories end with people being convinced that Islam is false. In one ending, a Muslim is contrite on learning he is worshipping a false idol and converts to Christianity.
Attempts to reach Clapp at her home in Spring Valley were unsuccessful, the Journal said. She worked as a correction officer before becoming the jail's chaplain in February 1994.
The Journal said the booklets were from Chick Publications, a company that produces gospel tracts and other media to advocate Christianity and condemn religions it deems false, including Islam and Roman Catholicism.
Muslim inmates said they found the tracts offensive, adding that other inmates' belief in the information has led to verbal altercations and to inmates labeling Muslim detainees devil worshippers, the newspaper reported.
"You think it's depressing being an inmate," said Kenny Kidd, 48, who is in jail on burglary charges. "Try putting 'Muslim' before 'inmate.'
"And to add salt to a wound," Kidd, said, "we have a chaplain passing out pamphlets calling our God the devil and our prophet a dictator."
Clark said in the future, any literature that is to be distributed to inmates will be vetted by a jail captain.
Clapp's suspension came more than a year after worldwide Muslim protests in January 2006 over cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper. The cartoons, among other things, showed Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.