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The complicated issue of police chaplains

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by 9-10ths_Penguin, Jun 6, 2020.

  1. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    As we see increased focus on issues and problems with racism and violence against maginalized groups by police, it's worth noting that just about every police force making the news has a network of chaplains associated with it.

    How do the issues affecting those police forces reflect on their chaplains... and by extension, the religions that these chaplains represent?

    On the positive side, apparently some chaplains see themselves as helping... as being a calming influence and creating a bridge between police and the communities they serve:

    Faith leaders in dual roles guiding congregations and police

    On the other side, performing chaplain duties implies at least tacit support of the police.

    I also notice that my admittedly quick Google search for "police chaplain resigns in protest" turned up zero hits for modern-day police chaplains stepping down in response to misdeeds of their police forces. Curiously, the military is different in this regard: I did find a handful of military chaplains who have stepped down over either drone strikes or prisoner treatment at GITMO.

    I also notice that I can't find any statements from police chaplains against police violence. I can find plenty of these from police chiefs individually and official statements from whole police forces, but none from chaplains.

    So... in cases of systemic police brutality or discrimination where we condemn front-line officers, supervisors, chiefs, police unions, etc., should police chaplains be included or exempt from these criticisms?
     
  2. bobhikes

    bobhikes Nowoligist
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    Police chaplains are like Army chaplains they are put in a bad situation to try and help were ever they can. They have no authority. They do not want to stand out because it could meditate their ability to help. Its known they are against violence.
     
  3. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    How are they helping in the current situation?

    Edit: and as I mentioned, I could find examples of military chaplains protesting the actions of the military. Not many, but some.

    No formal authority. They often have informal authority.

    So silence is the price of access?

    Is it?

    It's not known to me, and their conduct often suggests that they aren't against police violence.

    If "it is known" that they are against violence, why would saying this out loud affect their ability to help?
     
  4. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Hihg Intellajence Kwoshunt.
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    Would it be analogous to psychiatrists not speaking out against their patients?
     
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  5. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    I haven't heard of a psychiatrist yet who has an issue pointing out that many of their patients need help and have issues that have to be addressed.
     
  6. bobhikes

    bobhikes Nowoligist
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    Pretty much, there job is really to provide religious services to both police and criminals. Confession, communion and last rites. You want something they aren't offering.
     
  7. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    You seem to have a very different idea of what chaplains do than this actual chaplain (from the article I linked to in the OP):

     
  8. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    I don’t see where your link is effectively different from what the poster said.

    If you knew anything about chaplaincy work, I don’t think you’d ask the question. Chaplains are impartial, objective supporters. If they’re not, they can’t do their work. Chaplains should not speak out. It’s not their job to do so.
     
  9. 9-10ths_Penguin

    9-10ths_Penguin 1/10 Subway Stalinist
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    "Communion, confession and last rites" would not include leading whole detachments in prayer before their shifts or acting as a liaison between the police and the community, two of the things that the chaplain I quoted says she does.

    "Impartial" and "supporter" are incompatible ideas. Edit: Anyone impartial toward the police would not wear a police uniform... not even with a "chaplain" insignia.

    And as I pointed out, chaplains sometimes do speak out. I mentioned military chaplains who have spoken out against drone strikes, for instance.

    ... so it does happen sometimes. I just can't find any police chaplains as willing to act on their conscience as those military chaplains.
     
  10. sojourner

    sojourner Annoyingly Progressive Since 2006

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    The job of offering Communion is to connect people and create community. That’s why it’s called “communion.” Corporate prayer also gathers people into one. Acting as “connective tissue” between groups in a community accomplishes the same thing. It’s all about connecting people spiritually.
    Not true. Appropriate objectivity is key to the helping ministries.

    Also not true. One wears the uniform appropriate to the job. The chaplain is hired by the police and works on behalf of the community, of which the police are one arm.

    I’m not convinced that they should. I’m more prone to think that they should Serve as a conscience, admonishing decision makers and transgressors, but not publicly.
     
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