Religion Under Bureaucracy: The u.s. Case

in Numen
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article outlines a shift in u.s. law about religion from constitutionally enforced separation to bureaucratic management of a naturalized religion. Administration of the chaplaincy of the Veterans Administration is used to illustrate this shift. Chaplains hired for government jobs such as those at the va are generally required to have three credentials: the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree from an accredited institution, a prescribed number of cpe (Clinical Pastoral Education) credits, and an ecclesiastical endorsement. Each of these credentials originated within mostly Protestant institutions but all have adapted over the last half century or so to function in a bureaucratic “multi-faith context.” The new “spiritual governance” exercised through the web of public-private partnerships that administer pastoral care is built on a human anthropology that assumes that humans are naturally spiritual, a governance that might be understood as a new form of religious “establishment.”

Religion Under Bureaucracy: The u.s. Case

in Numen



Adair v. England 183 F.Supp. 2d 31 (d.d.c. 2002).

AlbaneseCatherine L. A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion 2007 New Haven Yale University Press

AppaduraiArjun Worship and Conflict Under Colonial Rule: A South Indian Case 1981 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

AsadTalal Formations of the Secular 2005 Palo Alto Stanford University Press

Brief for Appellees Freedom From Religion Foundation v Nicholson No. 07-1292 (u.s. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit). Filed 26 October 2007.

DolanMary Jean “Government-Sponsored Chaplains and Crisis: Walking the Fine Line in Disaster Response and Daily Life.” Hastings Constitutional Quarterly 2008 35 505 546

EvansG. R. A History of Pastoral Care 2000 London Cassell

FoucaultMichel BurchellGraham Security Territory Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 2007 New York Palgrave Macmillan

Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Nicholson 469 F. Supp. 2d 609 (w.d. Wisc. 2007).

“History Corner.” The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Inc. url: (accessed 29 June 2009).

HolifieldBrooks E. A History of Pastoral Care in America 1983 Nashville Abingdon Press

“Information for Prospective Students.” The Association for Clinical Pastoral Education Inc. url: (accessed 29 June 2009).

The Joint Commission url: (accessed 29 June 2009).

KlassenPamela Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine Healing and Liberal Christianity 2011 Berkeley University of California Press

MasuzawaTomoko The Invention of World Religions Or How European Universalism Was Preserved in the Language of Pluralism 2005 Chicago University of Chicago Press

“MDiv Program.” Harvard Divinity School. url: (accessed 29 June 2009)

PreslerFranklin Religion Under Bureaucracy: Policy and Administration for Hindu Temples in South India 1987 Cambridge Cambridge University Press

SchmidtLeigh Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality 2005 San Francisco, CA HarperOne

SullivanWinnifred F. Prison Religion: Faith-based Reform and the Constitution 2009 Princeton Princeton University Press

SchmidtLeigh A Ministry of Presence: Chaplaincy Spiritual Care and the Law 2014 Chicago University of Chicago Press

SchmidtLeighSwiftChristopher GershonIlana “The Chaplain: a physician of the soul in a secular age.” A World of Work 2015 Ithaca Cornell University Press

United States Department of Defense “Armed Forces Chaplains Board Endorsements.” Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness. url: (accessed 2 August 2014).

United States Department of Education The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. url: (accessed 29 June 2009).

United States Department of Education url: (accessed 29 June 2009).

United States Department of Veterans Affairs “Chaplain Career Opportunities.” url: (accessed 29 June 2009)

WhiteChristopher G. Unsettled Minds: Psychology and the American Search for Spiritual Assurance 1830–1940 2009 Berkeley University of California Press


See for example Dolan 2008.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 21 21 8
Full Text Views 70 70 54
PDF Downloads 3 3 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0