An article in the Charlotte Observer by John Murawski talks about the increased use of Christian chaplains in the workplace.
Is it legal? According to the law experts cited in the piece, yes, with certain precautions.
Corporate chaplains are an increasing presence in American workplaces — about 4,000 of them minister to workers nationwide, mostly in Southern states. But the ministers typically work for an outside agency and visit their assigned companies just a few days a month, said Mark Cress, president of Corporate Chaplains of America, an agency based in Wake Forest, outside Raleigh, with 115 chaplains.
The chaplains provide a benefit for those employees who feel more comfortable discussing personal issues with a minister.
“We don’t do Bible studies or prayer meetings in workplaces,” Cress said. “It’s not our job to turn a business into a church. We don’t want employees to think we’re there to beat them over the head with a Bible.”
An Arizona company was vindicated two decades ago in a federal appeals court ruling that set ground rules for workplace ministry, said UNC Chapel Hill law professor Glenn George. The federal court ruled that the private company could require its workers to attend devotional services as long as it paid the workers for the time spent in worship, and as long as an atheist employee was exempted from having to attend.
“The fact that you’re just uncomfortable with a chaplain on-site comes nowhere close to actionable harassment, as long as it’s truly voluntary and there’s no benefit or coercion,” George said.
Let’s assume for the moment everything is legal, and there’s no penalty (stated or not) for refusing the services provided.
How would you handle the situation?
Do you actively speak out against it? Do you just accept that the Chaplain is there and go on with your workday? Do you raise any concerns with your colleagues or bosses? Would you be upset/angry there’s no Humanist Chaplain provided to you?
(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)