I’m not a big fan of the clergy, whether Priest, Shaman, Minster, Reverand, Reverand Doctor, Chaplain, His Holiness, the list goes on and on please add any title you like. They make me uneasy, like they are at once judging me and looking to sell me something.
The subject of Humanist or atheist military chaplains has been in the news a bit lately as the House Armed Services Committee voted down an amendment to the defense bill that would have authorized atheist and humanist chaplains. Just as I don’t require the services of an astrologer or a witch doctor, I don’t require the services of a chaplain and I don’t plan to ever require the services of a chaplain.
If an employer employs a chaplain I would hope that this chaplain would be able to engage with every employee on an open and equal basis, and be able to resist the urge to sell his or her own line to the employees. As many if not most chaplains are not only Christians but Evangelical Christians with a mission to sell their wares to as many as they possibly can, I don’t know how they do this (do you think they do at all?). And, as most chaplains are from one or other organized faith and that tradition is their mode of communication, I’d find myself pushing for chaplains to represent other outlooks that are to be found in the employee ranks. Fairly quickly I would find myself advocating a “secular chaplaincy.”
Secular, ah now there’s a word. Why “secular” could put an end to all this mess now could it not? A smaller number of secular therapists or counselors who can relate to any employee without having to yell at them through the counselor’s particular myth-prism or superstition fog, might just work. It’d save $$ and other resources, not to mention personnel, and I’d argue would provide more benefit to more employees.
I’d bet if the faith groups who work to train and place oodles of chaplains into the military heard of an alternative plan that saves time, effort, and money, and provides more benefit to more people, why they’d jump at it, right?