More Secular Chaplains Needed

What language is that?
What language is that?

from the National Secular Society (UK)

Hospitals in England are now being directed to have more chaplaincy support for non-religious patients.

The report, Promoting Excellence in Pastoral, Spiritual and Religious Care, sets out to “respond to changes in the NHS, society and the widening understanding of spiritual, religious and pastoral care.”

The guidance states that “it is important to note that people who do not hold a particular religious affiliation may still require pastoral support in times of crisis” and defines chaplaincy as “intended to also refer to non-religious pastoral and spiritual care providers who provide care to patients, family and staff”.

The guidance also makes clear that patients and service users have a right to expect that chaplaincy care will be experienced as neither insensitive nor proselytising.

This will take some “culture change” in public places, calling on administrators to make sure Preachers who call themselves “Chaplains” are carefully monitored, and to assure that patients have a Real Choice when it comes to care of their well-being.

(I also agree with the National Secular Society that Chaplains of particular faiths should not be receiving public funds; they should be funded by their own faith.  AND, we should continue to ask the hard questions like, “What is Good Chaplaincy and Who is really a Chaplain?”)

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2 thoughts on “More Secular Chaplains Needed

  1. But please note that a professionally trained healthcare chaplain (i.e. who has taken Clinical Pastoral Education and ideally is board certified) can be religious and yet give appropriate pastoral support to nonreligious persons. As a Jewish chaplain, I give pastoral care to all religions, and to those of no religion. The religion or nonreligion of the chaplain is not the issue. The training is. The understanding of chaplaincy is.

  2. Noted. Thanks, Karen. And, as someone who never did CPE and was never “board certified” in 25 years of chaplaincy, let me just say, it’s time to open up the field for more secular (non-religious but not anti-religious) chaplains. That’s really what the post is about.

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