PODCAST: Keeping the Chaplain Accountable, Part 3 (The Work of the Chaplain #75 with Daniel Whyte III)

Welcome to the Ordained Chaplains podcast. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society University, and this is “The Work of the Chaplain” Lesson 75. The simple purpose of this podcast is to help those who are interested in serving others through chaplaincy, pastoring, coaching, and counseling to learn the basics of this profession.

Our Work of the Chaplain Passage for this episode is Proverbs 27:17 which says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from Al Mohler. He said, “With power and responsibility must come accountability. A leader without accountability is an accident waiting to happen.”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is: Chapter 10 – Keeping the Chaplain Accountable (Part 3)

— Legal Accountability

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. —First Amendment to the United States Constitution

The United States Constitution provides some very specific guidance for chaplain accountability. The First Amendment provides that there will be no national religion established and that all people are free to exercise religion or to not exercise religion. These mandates clearly establish that chaplains must provide equal ministry to all people who desire it, not just the people who embrace the same beliefs as the chaplain. The First Amendment and the United States Constitution are written to protect the individual citizen, not the chaplain’s faith group or the institution in which he or she serves. Therefore, the chaplain is directly accountable to the United States Constitution.

The chaplain is also accountable to international treaties or conventions to which the United States has agreed. For example, chaplains may choose to minister to friendly and enemy prisoners of war, even if they are captured themselves. (Chaplains are not considered prisoners of war.) In this case, an international agreement, the Geneva Convention, provides the latitude that allows the detaining military power to direct the activities of a captured chaplain without later consequences to the chaplain from his or her government or religious endorsing body. The chaplain is expected to follow all orders for the sake of efficient function except in the case of conflict to professional conscience or sacerdotal mission.

Federal statutes and state regulations also provide accountability for chaplains. For example, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) included privacy rules that created national standards to give patients increased control over protecting their health information. The chaplain is accountable to this statute in safeguarding a client’s health information. Other statutes make the chaplain accountable for reporting child abuse, intent to commit suicide or homicide, or elder neglect and abuse to the proper authorities.

The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) passed in 1974 established the basis for all fifty states to pass laws mandating the reporting of child abuse and neglect. Each state defines mandated reporters differently. Clergy are not always specifically listed. However, most state laws define mandated reporters as anyone who comes into contact with persons who are abused, neglected, or intending to commit harm to self or others while functioning in their normal professional duties. Chaplains must know the laws of the state in which they provide ministry. Failure to comply with such statutes results in the same legal consequences that any person would encounter.

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— PRAYER —

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Now, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.