God Is In The Office: Companies Are Hiring On-Site Chaplains

G.E. Oil & Gas Electric Submersible Pump has hired an on-staff chaplain. The Oklahoma City company is working with Marketplace Chaplains – an agency that provides pastors to businesses as a resource to employees.

The “God Squad,” as they’ve been dubbed, is an on-site service of nondenominational religious leaders who are always in the office to provide emotional and spiritual support to employees.

Ron Cordell, the VP of human resources at G.E. says:

“We realized people are coming to work with the rest of their lives on their shoulders. Whether it’s a death, illness, child with drug addiction or another problem, they’re endless in a group our size.”

A true statement, but is it really a company’s responsibility or even right to bring religion into the office?

Marketplace Chaplains was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1984. Since then it has grown to employ 2500 trained nondenominational chaplains, with 2300 locations serving 450 companies. Locations are not only in 43 states, but four countries as well. But the fact remains, where is the line between religion and state? Even if you don’t work in a state office, religion is a topic that should be kept outside of the office. While Marketplace Chaplains say they’re nondenominational, they still embrace their nickname of “The God Squad.” What does that say for people who don’t believe in God? Should they be subjected to something that should be left outside the front door of an office building?

The case can be made that we do spend the majority of our week in the office, and as Cordell pointed out, life does happen, and for those who face tragedies in their lives, it is a nice concept to offer solace, but the work environment doesn’t seem like the best place to offer such services. People have their own beliefs and spiritual paths and those should be kept to themselves, not in an office setting. It’s no different than a christian hanging a crucifix above their desk – there is a time and a place for everything.

The few people I talked to agreed that God should be kept out of the office.

“I’m not religious, so I’d feel alienated, but I’d also feel uncomfortable that my company was crossing the church/state lines. Assuming that I wasn’t working for a religiously-affiliated company, I think it would be pretty inappropriate,” said one person.

Another agreed stating that she found “religious and spiritual fulfillment outside the office and on my own terms.” She couldn’t see how bringing a clergyman into the office could be a good idea, even for the percentage of people who might need religious guidance.

What it comes down to is pure alienation. Not all people are religious, nor do all people believe in God. While having a chaplain on-staff may not be “pushing” religious beliefs on those who don’t believe, it’s not far from it.

America was founded on the dream of those who wanted to live their lives and believe in their God without persecution. However, belief goes in both directions: there is the freedom to believe or not to believe, and that’s what our forefathers were trying to achieve for the all the generations that follow. Bringing God into a workplace is inappropriate and simply, wrong. For those who need guidance, there’s never a church too faraway, or a pastor willing to offer a sympathetic shoulder.

(Photo: Nataliedee)

You can reach this post's author, Amanda Chatel, on twitter.
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    • Paula

      I don’t see anything that indicates that a chaplaincy service is pushing an agenda or even preaching to employees (they even say they don’t do this on their website, if you look). It seems as if it is another “wellness” benefit that employers are offering to their employees. Some people don’t like that their company wants them to lose weight and offers (financial) rewards for participating in weight-loss programs offered, but we all know that a healthy lifestyle often leads to more productive and possibly happier employees. I see this as another option for helping employees do good work. I don’t see that you have to participate in anything you don’t want to. If the benefit isn’t for you, don’t use it…but instead of complaining, why not suggest a different benefit that you would find useful?