I Prayed have prayed
Father in heaven, strengthen and protect America’s chaplains against relentless attempts of the Enemy to silence Christianity where it matters most.

A self-described Islamic transwoman serving time in a men’s prison in Indiana recently sued a prison chaplain for allegedly prohibiting him from wearing a hijab outside his sleeping quarters. The man, Jonathan Richardson, is serving 55 years for strangling his 11-month-old stepdaughter to death in 2001. He has already been in the news for suing the Indiana Department of Corrections for not granting his taxpayer-funded sex reassignment surgery.

Richardson, who had stated at prison intake that his preferred religion was Wiccan, claims that the chaplain violated his 14th Amendment rights of equal protection by denying him the freedom to wear his hijab while Muslim men are allowed to wear their caps anywhere on the prison grounds.

Certainly, this lawsuit seems extreme and unique because the plaintiff claims to be a transgender Muslim but practices an eclectic blend of religions that include Theosophy and Wicca. However, it does draw attention to the plight of chaplains serving in government-funded institutions.

Chaplains are everywhere: schools, colleges & universities, hospitals, nursing homes, jails, prisons, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and military branches. In addition, mobile volunteers who serve as crisis chaplains and marketplace chaplains. Even the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and State Legislatures have chaplains.

Chaplains, especially those serving in public institutions, are often in a precarious position. I know a thing or two about that. For 15 years, I served as a chaplain to several law enforcement agencies, fire departments, a jail, and a 911 call center. Because I understand the precariousness of their position well, I want to draw attention to their ministry and call upon you to pray for them as frontline representatives of God’s grace in times of crisis.

Challenges Chaplains Face
They face at least seven unique challenges to their ministry:

  1. Interfaith ministry. The Constitution establishes that the government can’t establish religion. This has been interpreted as preventing the government from favoring one religion over another. One of the most significant rules of interfaith ministry is that a chaplain cannot evangelize. They call it “proselytizing,” and a chaplain caught doing that is more often than not shown the door. Liberal Christian chaplains who do not believe that the Bible is God-breathed and that salvation is by grace through Christ alone have no problem with this. But for any chaplain like me, who believes that there is only one way to salvation and that any religion that says otherwise is demonic, or at the very least misguided, that’s a problem. It takes tremendous tact to navigate this minefield and a lot of prayer for opportunities to share the gospel when questions of faith are asked.
  2. Attacks from outside organizations. Groups like the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation often put pressure on government agencies, including fire and police departments, to abolish their chaplains’ programs. The simple threat of a lawsuit is sometimes enough to stop the chaplain program because leaders don’t want to spend taxpayers’ money for legal defense.
  3. They are misunderstood by personnel. Staff members of public institutions often see chaplains as an afterthought or annoyance – especially in law enforcement agencies and jails. Chaplains must work hard to earn trust and goodwill within the department and sometimes fight to justify their presence. In jail, we were seen as “care bears” or “hand holders” of inmates who, in the eyes of most jailers, would or could never change. “Count them and keep them” is still a prevalent mindset. On crisis scenes, chaplains can sometimes be seen as a hindrance to responders doing their work. Crisis victims want to know what’s happening and often see the chaplain as a way of accessing officials to get information. It’s easy to make mistakes and burn bridges with the department’s command staff.
  4. The emotional burden of bringing peace to crises. Who chaplains the chaplains? It’s a question often discussed in training sessions. Chaplains who work in hospitals and with first responders experience trauma themselves and respond to people suffering unimaginable pain and anguish. They often have no one to talk to except each other. When you’re the only chaplain in the department, you have nowhere to go to unburden yourself and process your emotions about what you saw.
  5. Chaplains are often volunteers. In some cases, and under some states’ statutes (like Title XIII in California), chaplains are paid because the government is legally required to provide religious services to citizens. However, in all other cases, chaplains are volunteers. They are often full-time ministers who donate their time because they believe in its importance. That can become exhausting when they get called out during all hours of the day and night.
  6. Chaplains are seen as dispensable. Many chaplains see their ministry as a calling and, therefore, of vital importance. In the Bible Belt, agency command staff is often Christian and supportive, but in many other parts of the country, chaplains are seen as dispensable. Chaplains cost money. They have to have uniforms and badges. Their background checks are as intense as those of a prospective officer. Accreditation standards require them to complete ongoing training. All of that is costly, which is one reason why some people don’t want them there. When a budget must be cut, the chaplains’ program is one of the first to go. If there is a complaint against a chaplain over something he said or did at a crisis scene, he is quick to get the boot because the command staff is too busy to correct a chaplain.
  7. Chaplains in jails and law enforcement agencies can face a sticky moral dilemma when someone confesses to a crime. That could be a suspect, an inmate, or an officer. Clergy confidentiality keeps a chaplain from reporting it unless someone’s life is in danger. Yet, moral uprightness in chaplains makes it hard for them not to do something about it. It requires extraordinary divine wisdom to resolve these dilemmas.

Given these pressures, would you pray for America’s chaplains? They are a vital part of God’s kingdom. They bring His peace and grace into the toughest environments and situations humans face. Pray for anointing, wisdom, protection against lawsuits and misunderstanding, and strength in emotional exhaustion. Pray for the institutions where they work to be favorable to them and see the need for chaplains, even when they come under attack by anti-religion groups.

God of grace, thank You for our chaplains. You have called them to minister in the most difficult situations and circumstances imaginable. We pray that You protect chaplains’ programs nationwide. Strengthen them with divine wisdom, supernatural peace, and grace in every crisis they respond to. We pray that lawsuits like the one in Indiana will come to nothing and that public institutions will have the courage to defend their chaplains. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

Remco Brommet is a pastor, spiritual-growth teacher, and prayer leader with over 40 years of experience in Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the U.S. He was born and raised in the Netherlands and pastored his first church in Amsterdam. He moved to the U.S. in 1986. He and his wife, Jennifer, live north of Atlanta. When not writing books, he blogs at www.deeperlifeblog.com and assists his wife as a content developer and prayer coordinator for True Identity Ministries. Jennifer and Remco are passionate about bringing people into a deeper relationship with Christ.

Comments (6) Print

Comments

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Daryl Perkins
February 26, 2024

I pray for all the chaplains world wide. God please give them wisdom and the strength in faith to do your will God in Jesus name I pray

3
AnnH
February 24, 2024

Thank you for the article–very well written & very good examples of the judgements & careful-walking that must be done by Christian chaplains now. I had no idea that they were looked down on in so many scenarios.

4
Dennis
February 24, 2024

Congressional Chaplains were soo thankful for Pastor Jack Hibbs!!!! He didn’t bow to the politically correct restrictions of prayer. He prayed to the FATHER, concerning The Founding Fathers of America,
IN YESHUA’S HOLY NAME

Be bold Stand firm Speak THE TRUTH

9
Sharon Heimann
February 24, 2024

LORD as You did with Brother Andrew, blinding those who were against You from seeing the hidden Bibles, we ask you to cause deafness on those who are against the gospel of Christ. So that the hungry, lost, seeking can respond to Your love and find the Truth and freedom in Christ alone. Unveil their eyes, move them from the power of darkness into Your light so that they will find forgiveness of sin and the inheritance they have through faith in Jesus Christ. Strengthen Your servants as they proclaim the Gospel of Christ, Your power to salvation. Give them wisdom and discernment in each situation, and remind them You are their refuge in time of trouble and it is Your battle.

8
Terri B
February 24, 2024

Dear Father, I pray for Your wisdom, Your favor and Your protection over all Your chaplains for they are Your light in a very dark world, In Jesus’ name, Amen!

18
Wanda Rogers
February 24, 2024

Praise YOU, FATHER, for our chaplains and ALL they do for YOUR kingdom in the worst of circumstances. Protect them, JESUS, from every attack the enemy tries to use against them. Grant them YOUR favor in every situation. Give them an abundance of YOUR wisdom, discernment, guidance and direction everyday in every situation. May their reward be great when they stand before YOU in heaven. I pray that they may prosper in all things and be in health, just as their souls prosper.

21

Partner with Us

Intercessors for America is the trusted resource for millions of people across the United States committed to praying for our nation. If you have benefited from IFA's resources and community, please consider joining us as a monthly support partner. As a 501(c)3 organization, it's through your support that all this possible.

Dave Kubal
IFA President
Become a Monthly Partner

Share

Click below to share this with others

Log in to Join the Conversation

Log in to your IFA account to start a discussion, comment, pray, and interact with our community.