Fair. Balanced. American.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chaplains in corporate America

If only Karl Marx had a blog. And since most corporate chaplains are evangelicals (they'd almost have to be Protestant or Protestant-influenced white Catholics to buy into capitalism to this degree), they will presumably tell workers that they should be content with their lot. And that Jesus never said a word in favor of unionization.

Corporate Chaplains of America, which is based in Wake Forest, North Carolina, is both newer and smaller: it was founded in 1996 and has 100 full-time chaplains on its books who minister to 75,000 workers in 24 states. But it is also booming. Dwayne Reece, a spokesman, says that the firm would like to have 1,000 chaplains ministering to 1m workers in six or seven years' time. Both companies talk excitedly about going global. Marketplace Chaplains expanded into Mexico and Puerto Rico this year, and has high hopes for the British market. Corporate Chaplains has a client who wants it to expand into China.

Why the chaplain boom? People in the business point to the practical advantages of having a company cleric. Many workers are cut off from their geographic and religious roots. Corporate chaplains can perform the role of traditional village priests. People in the business also argue that corporate chaplains can boost productivity. Art Stricklin, of Marketplace Chaplains, claims that the turnover rate at Taco Bell outlets in central Texas dropped by a third after they started employing chaplains.

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