A Ministry of PresenceChaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law

A Ministry of PresenceChaplaincy, Spiritual Care, and the Law

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780226779751

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book describes the convergence of shifts in law, psychology, and religious practice that explains the increasing ubiquity of chaplains across the domains of contemporary life—in hospitals, prisons, the military, as well as in airports, schools, workplaces, and emergency preparedness. The chaplain, it is argued, has become the necessary religious expert who negotiates and bridges the sacred/secular divide through her/his distinctive practice of a ministry of presence. US First Amendment law, as well as popular notions of the shape of religious freedom in a diverse religious society, have enabled the flourishing of the chaplain through a jurisprudence that distinguishes spirituality as a universal attribute of the human, from constitutionally prohibited government religious activity that is establishmentarian, sectarian, or divisive. Private/public regulatory regimes, including accreditation, credentialing, employment discrimination law, and agency regulation, have conspired to universalize and standardize the practice of a ministry of spiritual care by chaplains.