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Chaplains and the Constitution

Chaplains and the Constitution

(p.139) Four Chaplains and the Constitution
A Ministry of Presence
Winnifred Fallers Sullivan
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses litigation brought to challenge government chaplaincies under the Constitution, beginning with the Katcoff case challenging the Army chaplaincy. Katcoff establishes the doctrine that government chaplaincies are justified as ensuring opportunities for government workers who are posted away from their home congregations to avail themselves of the free market in religion, understood to be the US ideal. Increasingly, the courts are seen to justify chaplaincies by recourse to the presumed universality of spirituality as a non-divisive and therefore constitutionally unproblematic form of religion as well as to the assumed importance of spiritual health to national well-being. US law with respect to religious freedom is set in a larger comparative context.

Keywords:   First Amendment, Katcoff v. Marsh, Marsh v. Chambers, chaplaincy, Hein v. FFRF

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