A chaplain at a Florida hospice says she has resigned due to a ban on use of the words "God" or "Lord" in certain public settings.

The Rev. Mirta Signorelli said that Hospice by the Sea in Boca Raton told her and other chaplains on Feb. 23 to "cease and desist from using God in prayers," the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

That ban on religious references, she said, rendered her incapable of doing her job.

"I can't do chaplain's work if I can't say 'God' — if I'm scripted," Signorelli told the Sentinel.

Hospice by the Sea CEO Paula Alderson said the restriction applies only to staff meetings. Ministers, priests and rabbis still are free to speak about God when counseling patients or families in private.

"I was sensitive to the fact that we don't impose religion on our staff, and that it is not appropriate in the context of a staff meeting to use certain phrases or 'God' or 'Holy Father,' because some of our staff don't believe at all," she told the Sentinel.

But Signorelli said the policy also forced her to watch her language when leading prayer in the hospice chapel, and when meeting patients in public settings like nursing homes or weekly patient conferences with doctors, nurses and social workers, the Sentinel reported.

"If you take God away from me, it's like taking a medical tool away from a nurse,” she told the paper.

None of the six other chaplains have objected to the new policy, she said.

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