Legal Foundations for Chaplaincy


Our Work of the Chaplain passage for this episode is John 13:34-35 which says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Our Becoming A Chaplain quote for this episode is from William Wilberforce. He said, “Is it not the great end of religion, and, in particular, the glory of Christianity, to extinguish the malignant passions; to curb the violence, to control the appetites, and to smooth the asperities of man; to make us compassionate and kind, and forgiving one to another; to make us good husbands, good fathers, good friends; and to render us active and useful in the discharge of the relative social and civil duties?”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is “Legal Foundations for Chaplaincy.”

Although the United States Constitution forbids a national religion, the same Constitution protects the individual’s right to the free exercise of religion. People have the right to practice religion in personally meaningful ways, but they also have the right to decline participation. Chaplains serve in a pluralistic arena — multifaith — and therefore, must provide the same ministry to all people in the identified ministry group.

Chaplain ministry has been challenged on the legal fronts in several instances. The only legal basis for the existence of chaplaincy in the United States is the common denominator supporting the “Free Exercise Clause” in the First Amendment. However, in the 1980s an Army rabbi chaplain helped define the ministry of chaplains by clearly stating that the chaplain’s purpose was to provide for the free exercise of religion for everyone in the command, not just the people who were of the same faith tradition as the chaplain. That is, chaplains provide the opportunity for everyone to practice or not practice religion as an individual choice and style. Today, one may clearly state that chaplaincy exists for the purpose of providing for the free exercise of religion because individual faith groups cannot practically provide for all the needs of all individuals in any particular institution. Chaplaincy continues to provide for the spiritual needs of people in a way that no other established religious group can.

If the Lord tarries his coming and we live, we will continue this topic in our next podcast.

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— PRAYER —

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God bless.


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