Invading Corporate America

Brian E. Volck, in his post Are You Being Served? (no longer available), states:

As John Sayles’ role in the movie Matewan suggests, big businesses have used clergy as cheerleaders before, but this news item from The Economist hints at something worse.

The article: Praying for Gain: A fad for piety infiltrates the realm of Mammon

I am completely at a loss for what this, “something worse”, that Mr. Volck refers to is. Is he worried that there are two companies that provide chaplain services? Is that his issue? If it is, then perhaps he is unaware of the restrictions that these to companies put upon those whose services they tender. These chaplains are to stay away from denominational arguments (whether for or against), and to provide purely for the spiritual needs of the employees. Is he worried that a company dares to make a profit on provide such services? Where is that particular line drawn?

Is he worried about the reason companies are doing this? Such as, increased worker productivity? Does that mean my company can no longer provide donuts every other Friday? Or company parties? There is nothing wrong with that.

The one thing that may concern him is the equating of the corporate chaplain to the village priest, which, frankly, was probably an ignorant and definitely stupid thing for the writer at the Economist to write. I would hazard a guess that the writer was trying to relate it to earlier times in history, but who has no real experience with a village priest.

The author does state (although I’m not sure the statement is an accurate reflection of reality) that these chaplains are providing spiritual support for people who are feeling cut off from their roots (if they had any). However, the “boom” according to the article has been since 9/11. That should give all people pause. 9/11 caused a lot of people to reflect on their lives. Most denominations saw a huge influx of attenders immediately after 9/11, but those numbers quickly fell. However, even in those churches who are otherwise experiencing negative growth, the post-9/11 increase in attendees has been noticeable.

Another thing that Mr. Volck could be concerned with is the possibility that people will equate their faith with the company, therefore become religiously zealous about their company. While, I suppose, that could be an issue, I suspect that it is not, especially when the chaplain is not a true employee of the company.

Perhaps the scary part for Mr. Volck is that is is corporations that recognize the value of religion and supporting it, while society and government as a whole (think the bureaucrats, not the politicians) has become somewhat hostile to religion.

I don’t know Mr. Volck, and I’m throwing all this out there because he didn’t make his concerns known. I hope that he will note his concerns at some point, but I can’t help but feel that his concern is the seeming melding of faith with “evil” corporations. However, if the chaplain is a true Christian, and serves the employees in true Christian love, I suspect that the Enrons and other horrible shenanigans will be greatly reduced, and the companies will cease being emotionless, profit-only, organizations, as a whole.

Perhaps I’m being optimistic, but I’m allowed to be every once in a while, just to get out of the rut.


  1. Perhaps he’s concerned that the “boom” will see an increase in the number of chaplains at the expense of quality?

    Seems to me the employers look at offering chaplains as yet another employee benefit along side coverage for mental health services and vision care. From my perspective, as long as visits to the chaplain aren’t compulsory, this is a check in the “plus” column for those who would want to take advantage of the offering.

    I’m thinking it would go something like this…

    Chaplain: “What can I do for you today?”

    Employee: “The printer in Logistics…”

    Chaplain: “Yes, I know the one. It’s a PrintSmart CopyCenter 2400 with full duplex, collating and stapling. What seems to be the matter with it?”

    Employee: (whispering) “I think it might be possessed. Can you help me?”

    Chaplain: “I’m afraid not, my son. You see, exorcism services are reserved exclusively for ‘Pious Plus’ card holders. Your plan has a higher co-pay and it doesn’t cover equipment-related possessions, apparitions and Force of Darkness Protection. Says so right here in the employee handbook.”

    Employee: (shaking) “But what am I going to do? It keeps looking at me with that blue READY indicator. Plus, I honestly think it stole my lunch.”

    Chaplain: “I’ve done all I can under the contract. Perhaps you could speak to someone in benefits.”

    Employee: “But sir…”

    Chaplain: “Look, I’m very busy. I have many other…”

    Employee: “…have you ever wondered which printer was used to produce those handbooks? Notice anything unusual about the stapling?”

  2. Okay, I missed one more possible con, quantity over quality. Of course, most denominations are having problems filling the needs they already have. Then again, those that are called to be chaplain are usually not those who would do well in a more pastoral roll, I think. Maybe I’m wrong.

    As for your skit, those that are IT Admins seem to have those conversations with workers all the time…

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