NBC Acknowledges U.S. a Very Religious Nation, Promotes Corporate Chaplains

In his lead-in to the last story of Holy Thursday's NBC Nightly News broadcast, a report on the growing trend of company-provided chaplains in the workplace, anchor Brian Williams acknowledges “we are a very religious nation.” 

The story features the nondenominational Corporate Chaplains of America, which serves 450 firms in 26 states.  Corporate chaplains offer on-site opportunities for employees to talk with a person of faith about issues that are bothering them.

After introducing the chaplain at HomeBanc Mortgage's Atlanta headquarters, reporter Anne Thompson jumps in with the obvious anti-religion question: “Are you trying to convert people?”

To her credit, Thompson lets the chaplain explain that his job is to listen to people regardless of what they want to talk about.  He tells her, “If people have questions about a spiritual matter we answer those questions.  Just like if they have questions about how to get their baby to sleep all night.”

Thompson moves on to the firm's receptionist, who comments that having an on-site chaplain means she can get help or advice when she needs it and sees the service as more coaching than ministerial.  Thompson's following stand-up reads like a positive endorsement for faith in the workplace: “Labor experts say employers who don't acknowledge their employees' spiritual side are missing the boat. Especially since today's workers spend so much time on the job.”

Thompson interviews David Miller, author of God at Work, The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement, who strongly asserts that on-site chaplains must be seen as a resource, not a requirement.

To close the pro-faith-at-work story, Thompson reports HomeBanc's belief that the corporate chaplain program has reduced employer turnover and is paying big returns for the company.

After the bashing that religion and faith have taken during Lent (see link here), this refreshing look at the positive side of faith is a welcome relief.  Kudos to NBC for this pro-faith feature.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.