Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Texas County Tries Hiring Chaplains

Collin County, Texas has decided to try hiring ministers to come in and talk to county employees and counsel with them about their problems.

After much debate, Collin County commissioners agreed to “try out” a new employee care program during their regular meeting on Monday.

Representatives from Marketplace Chaplains pitched the program to the commissioners. The program consists of brief, regular visits to the worksite by Chaplains. Once there, they interact with employees and build a relationship of trust and friendship. The service provides round the clock service nationwide to employees dealing with an emergency or family crisis

“The strength of a county is in its employees,” said Jason Brown, vice president of marketing for Marketplace Chaplains. “Locally, Huffines Chevrolet, OnCor Herbs Paint and Body all use our services. The purpose of the program is to extend and broaden benefits given to employees. This is not a religious organization. The program is all voluntary on the part of the employees.”

Right. It’s not a religious program. If it’s not a religious program, why do you call them chaplains? That’s a specifically religious term in every other context. Besides, the county already has coverage for counseling:

Part of the commissioners concern with the price of the program is that Collin County already has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The current EAP is offered through United Health Care. It offers services to employees, such as counseling. Employees can access EAP by calling a phone number where the conversation will remain confidential.

The difference, I bet, is that they focus on ministers. The website for the group doesn’t really say that. In fact, it contains nothing but empty rhetoric about the qualifications of their chaplains:

We do not employ novices as chaplains. Each approved chaplain applicant brings extensive experience in caring for people. Each has a clear understanding of business and has significant work place experience. Every applicant undergoes criminal and financial background checks, along with extensive personal reference checks to verify character and personal history. Technical training, significant care-giving experience, mature and proven character are essential qualities in order for chaplains to provide exceptional service to the employees and families of our client companies.

In addition to their extensive experience and care-giving skills, newly hired chaplains receive specific orientation and training on the issues they face in the work place, including ethical and legal constraints in the business world and how to relate to company management. Training and guidelines to help employees resolve work place conflicts is also emphasized. Continuing education is provided to equip chaplains with additional skills and knowledge.

“Extensive experience in caring for people.” I like that.

“How long have you cared for people?”

“All my life.”

“You’re hired.”

But they do claim to have chaplains from all faith groups:

As a 501 (c) 3 non-profit Christian organization, Marketplace Chaplains USA maintains relationships with clergy of other faith groups. In the rare instance a request is made by an employee or family member, or recommended by a chaplain, someone from the employee’s or family member’s faith is called upon to meet the person’s specific need.

And they say:

Marketplace Chaplains USA is a cross-denominational Christian organization. Within our total staff of over 2,400 there are over 80 different denominations represented. Because Marketplace Chaplains USA provides an Employee Care Program, and not a religious program, we do not represent any specific denomination or local religious body.

Yes, your bullshit detectors should be going off right now. They seem to think that since they’re multi-denominational in terms of Christianity, it’s therefore not a religious program. That’s absurd, of course, but that seems to be their argument.