Saturday, 8 October 2016

Chaplaincy and the Constitution of Corporate Entities

Provision of chaplaincy services in an agency or institution should take into account legal considerations. Corporate entities have a strict set of laws that prohibit discrimination based on religious grounds or dogmatic differences. For this reason, the scope of religious expression is limited in these corporate entities, and chaplains must adapt to such settings. This point paper will focus on Chaplaincy and the Constitution of corporate entities.
Photo Credit: Chaplain.org
            `Religious expression in the workplace is currently legislated in the United States of America. The First Amendment and the Affirmative Action program guard employees against unfair discrimination based on the expression of their religious beliefs. Nonetheless, it also restricts the employer from enforcing his or her religious beliefs on the employees as well as prohibits an employee from enforcing his or her religious beliefs on his or her fellow co-workers. The First Amendment is special because it decrees separation of religion and state, and as such it guide the Federal laws which govern religious practices in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects employees from religious discrimination in the workplace. Additionally, the fair employment practices adopted by various States are also intended to avert discrimination based on religious expression (Crick, 2011). Thus, it is vital for the chaplain to model, mediate and guide religious expression within a workplace in accordance to the relevant laws and regulations.
Legal Considerations
            Practice of religion impacts the workplace, and this defines the areas of interest where religion intersects with workplace dynamics. Some of these areas of interests are mode of dress (some religions mandate their adherents to dress specifically), religious holidays (Judaism and Seventh Day Adventists requires their adherents to observe Sabbath), accommodation (Islam mandates separation of males and females) and type of work (some religions prohibit specific types of works, for example, Islam prohibits Muslims from working in the Beer industry). Another important area of concern is the sharing of religious values and beliefs within the workplace which may be interpreted as advancing religious discrimination.
            The Civil Rights Act defines religion within a theological framework and thus excludes personal beliefs based on non-theological frameworks. This definition was adapted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and thereafter used to guide religious expression within the workplace. The clause concerning religious discrimination is intimately tied to religious observance (Woodard, 2011). Observance of certain religious laws does sometimes conflict with the dynamics of the workplace, for example, Orthodox Jewish employees must not work during the sabbath and if they are employed in jobs which requires them to work on Saturday, then conflicts do arise and the employees may be fired by their employers. If such employees lose their jobs based on the aforementioned conflict between religious observance and workplace needs, then they may sue their employers on grounds of religious discrimination. Therefore, there is need to strike a balance between religious practices and workplace needs.
            State institutions and Government-funded organizations include the provision of chaplaincy services in their frameworks. The chaplains working in these institutions are nonetheless required to function within the constitutional mandates, and this includes observance of laws which prohibit religious discrimination. Jurisdiction regarding religious practice in the private sector also permits the inclusion of chaplaincy services but disallows religious discrimination. These observations are informed by the fact that Federal level legislation, the US constitution and the State legislations prohibits chaplains and other Christian clergy-persons from limiting or interfering with the religious practices of non-Christians or of Christians who ascribe to variant sets of theological dogmas. In the US constitution, the clauses which establish the freedom of religious practice are the Establishment clause and the Free Exercise clause (Crick, 2011).
Chaplaincy and the Workplace
            The Workplace Religious Freedoms Act mandates private employers to accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees. The Act allows employers to intervene and take appropriate measures against their employees when the religious practices of such employees threaten to jeopardize the operations of the firm (Crick, 2011). However, if a chaplain is present in these workplaces, such conflicts can be averted as one of the core chaplaincy services is to mediate conflicts, and the chaplain could detect that some of the religious practices of the employees are harming the prospects of the company. For this reason, the author advises that companies should ensure that there is provision of religious ministry services to its employees as long as there are no instances of religious coercion. This is informed by the fact that independent churches have co-existed with secular institutions in the society, and the same can be replicated in the company where the chaplaincy offers religious services to employees who require and need these services. This would enable religious employees to be guided appropriately on how to find meaning and value in the work or career they are pursuing. This leads to self-improvement, self-advancement and a feeling of fulfillment and contentment among the employees. This in turn improves their morale thus increasing their output, and this ultimately leads to profit optimization due to an increase in the overall output.
Conclusion
            Chaplaincy services do benefit the workplace because it advises and motivates the employees to perform well in their job. Nonetheless, such chaplaincy service should be offered only to willing employees. Legal considerations mandate chaplains to avoid discriminating people based on their religious persuasion. Nevertheless, chaplaincy services can be offered in companies, institutions and government agencies because state and federal legislation do have provisions which permit these services to be offered.
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References
Crick, R. (2011). Outside the Gates: The Need for Theology, History, and Practice of Chaplaincy
            Ministries. Higherlife Publishing.
Woodard, W. (2011). Ministry of Presence: Biblical Insight on Christian Chaplaincy. Faithful Life
            Publishers.

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