Author Topic: Chaplains - how are they still legal?  (Read 474 times)

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Offline neopagan

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Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« on: August 14, 2013, 12:32:34 PM »
I do occasional work with a government agency that has a chaplain as part of their local arm of the office.  He is part of an agency wide unpaid, volunteer chaplain program.  However, he has an office, is given free reign to wander the building and talks to everyone - even in areas off limits to the general public.

I really cannot figure out how the US federal government gets away with this.  The chaplain is a baptist minister and in addition to his monthly newsletter he emails out to everyone in the office, he emails ad hoc commentary on office wide issues here and there.  There is always a heavy dose of religious woo infused in his ramblings, especially the monthly missives.

Here are a few lines from his latest monthly - usually from emails that would equate to two pages of text:

"if there is a god, where is he?"
"one of the great truths is that god is with us at all times"
"at the announcement of christ's birth, it was declared all this was to fulfill what was said through the prophets"
jesus promised to never leave or forsake us"
"the great question you must all address is why is it so difficult for us to see that he is with us"

Jesus runs rampant through his writings and most have an air of proselytizing that's hard to miss.

I cannot really find anything on some random searches on how or why this type of program is allowed. I don't really want to be the dick in the office who runs the guy off, but I really just question how it goes on?

I have twice sat down and refuted/addressed his monthly letters line by line.. but never ended up sending it back to him. I just know in bible belt Oklahoma I will be the one questioned and looked at as the loon - not the best work environment.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 12:38:06 PM by neopagan »
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2013, 12:47:11 PM »
I cannot really find anything on some random searches on how or why this type of program is allowed.

I'd hazard a guess that it's unconstitutional.  I'd get in touch with the Freedom From Religion Foundation and discuss the situation with them. 
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2013, 12:57:56 PM »
^^^^I sent them an email a couple days ago and have not heard back yet.  I will post any response I get from them.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Quesi

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2013, 02:51:40 PM »
It really is shocking. 

Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2013, 02:59:52 PM »
I have twice sat down and refuted/addressed his monthly letters line by line.. but never ended up sending it back to him. I just know in bible belt Oklahoma I will be the one questioned and looked at as the loon - not the best work environment.

Why not send your refutations from another anonymous email address?  ...Along with a request for the cessation of his religious material, as you find it incredibly offensive to your intelligence.
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2013, 03:11:00 PM »
^^^^ Not that I have a long history of bravery about my newfound atheist views, but I found an anonymous response to him to be a little "cowardly."
Maybe it's worth a try just to send it via inter-office snail mail with no name on it...
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2013, 03:34:23 PM »
Ask him how he and everyone else might feel if a Muslim was doing the same thing in your office.
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2013, 03:53:09 PM »
I could demand equal time for Zeus and the Flying Spag Monster as well!
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2013, 03:56:06 PM »
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2013, 07:51:28 AM »
Update:
I heard back from an FFRF attorney today in response to my email to them.

They were not able to give me an answer on the legality of a chaplain without lots of details that would make me rather uncomfortable - name of government agency, specific location/address, name of chaplain, whether he has an office in the location, whether emails are sent on the agency servers, copies of emails and addresses it is distributed to, etc.

Ouch - I don't have any desire to be a martyr for the cause by giving up that much data. I might as well apply for whistleblower status and kiss my career goodbye. I just had asked for clarification on the rules, if any, for having a chaplain hang around.

I also was bothered by FFRF's disclaimer on the email, "we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of all communications in all circumstances."  I got the feeling from the email they would be happy to pounce with or without your consent.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline stuffin

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2013, 10:53:33 AM »
^^^ Difficult for many of us having to make those choices. Just proves how they do have the system rigged to some extent.
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2013, 01:34:07 PM »
it's discouraging in this day and age we are still battling magic...
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2013, 01:37:45 PM »
it's discouraging in this day and age we are still battling magic...

Rookie.  Just wait until a few years tick by and you become more & more of a rationalist, and the supernatural beliefs of the masses appear more & more delusional.

;)
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2013, 01:47:04 PM »
^^^ Haha... I must be learning quickly, I am fighting the urge to just think this theistic stuff is some sort of mental disorder.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline screwtape

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2013, 02:26:32 PM »
^

yeah.  It's like an episode of the Twilight Zone, where everyone in the whole world has gone completely insane except you.  And you start to wonder whether it's you who is crazy.  But it can't be.  It's them.  Definitely them.

I feel like that at some point almost every day.

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Offline Star Stuff

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2013, 02:29:08 PM »
Yup.  Every night on the news, there'll be some story of some accident of some sort, and I'll call out to my wife: "Wait for it.....wait for it......"  "MIRACLE!!!"

And the following face palm.
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2013, 02:47:28 PM »
the latest monthly newsletter from the chaplain made mention of people coming to his office to tell him about a "jesus moment" where jeebs makes some miraculous manifestation - you know, like finding car keys or placing a Wendy's right at the corner where they craved a frosty!

I keep trying to figure out a devious jeezus moment to tell him about that will push the limits of his credulity... but I doubt there is such a thing.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline screwtape

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2013, 07:25:52 AM »
^
"So, I was porking the old lady one time, and as I was reaching the Point of No Return, a light appeared on the headboard.  More of a glow, actually.  And in the center of it, was a little, glowing jesus christ, about three inches tall.  And he started speaking to me in Aramaic, but I understood what he was saying.  He told me, 'grabeth of her left leg and giveth it a lift.'  So I did.  And it was unbelieveable.  And then he said, 'pulleth of her hair, my child,' so I did that too.  The tiny glowing jesus watched for a while, then gave me a thumbs up and disappeared.  Amen."
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2013, 09:26:56 AM »
^^^  Very nice, screw...  My only fear is getting a clergyman too aroused by such a tale - they have been known to do dastardly things to their fellow man. 

Did a certain "burger boy" who has been known to haunt this site PM you that story?   :D
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2013, 04:21:18 PM »
Update Part Deux:

Heard back from FFRF after I gave them a little more of the details, yet didn't dime out the particular folks by name.  The attorney understood my reluctance, but based on some of the particulars of the agency in question, there might be enough legal loopholes to allow such a thing as a chaplain - even an overzealous one.  FFRF did not agree with this view, but they had not had much luck in court with making the case against chaplains as I described.  It seems there is a bit of an exception for military, police, firefighters, etc and organizations that have "extra" stressful issues.

Bottom line, not so much I can do about what I see going on here, unless I want to be the Rosa Parks of atheists.
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Backspace

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2013, 04:31:55 PM »
Not sure if it was mentioned already, but chaplains in the US military do serve an important role: they're one of the only truly confidential sources a soldier can speak to without reprisal. This becomes very important for soldiers contemplating suicide, spousal abuse, or any number of things a someone may need to talk things over with in legal confidence.  This is one of the reasons atheists in the military speak of 'atheist chaplains', because in the role of chaplain, all communication is confidential.
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Chaplains - how are they still legal?
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2013, 06:12:46 PM »
Understood, Backspace.
  I have no issue with a chaplain one can seek out for help of thei  own accord, or even ask for a referral to a lik  minded theist counselor. What bothered me was this guy sending out his elaborate monthly emails that are heavy with jeezus this and jeezus does  that. Also, he adds cooments  on office-wide emails at times too.
 I would think muslims, jews, even mormons may be offended by his fundie-like approach to winning folks to jeezus
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan