When you take a look back into history, you gain perspective on the impact Christianity had on the world especially in America. The military chaplains are a prime example of a person sharing their faith in a setting outside of church. The surest proof that God exists is that the church has survived for two thousands years.1 Being a chaplain in various settings such hospital, correctional facilities, and college campuses, signifies the model of one operating in a secular environment. When you think about human rights which gives chaplains freedom in their faith, the declaration of independence and the first amendment is very influential to providing religious freedom.
The four reference of God written in the declaration of independence consist of nature’s God, creator, supreme judge, and divine providence. 2 When you consider the first amendment of the constitution, every American should take note that religion is the first subject of the first amendment suggesting a perceived need even greater than the revered freedom of speech, press, assembly, and petition. 3 The authority for chaplains to display their faith in secular settings is evident with the free exercise clause which provides protection giving an individual the right to publicly display their religion. The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from religion. 4 Although there is religious freedom, chaplains working within the military setting must maintain balance in accommodating the soldiers first amendment rights and his or her commitment to Jesus Christ. “It may be difficult for those advocating the separation of the church from the state to understand that the Christian chaplains ability to facilitate the religious freedom of the soldiers is in direct proportion to his biblical commitment to live a life worthy of the calling to which he has been called.” 5
When I think of scriptures that gives the chaplains freedom in sharing their faith in a secular environment, the scripture Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV) which states, “the Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.” 6 We have the authority in Jesus Christ to share the gospel with others. I believe we have to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit when doing so because it’s important to be in the will of God at all times.
The United States is filled with people of different religions making it even more diverse. Military chaplains have the longest history of being in a secular and pluralistic setting where they have to be mindful and sensitive to the various religions that among the troops and military staff. “The chaplain can preach on Sunday, providing he is sensitive to the religious diversity of his congregation and follows a politically correct script.” 7 When a chaplain is placed in a secular and pluralistic environment, they can either hold on to their conviction or be sensitive to the people whom they are praying for in a setting that may not be receptive to hearing “Jesus” at the end of the prayer.
In the video, “Chaplain under fire” a story of a military chaplain was mentioned. In the story, the chaplain was described to be having a difficult time not ending his prayer with , “in Jesus name” and it mentioned him going to his room after each prayer to pray for God to forgive him. 8 Although the constitution protects an individual to have the freedom of religion, you can’t force your religion onto others. Many organizations such as the military oppose ending your prayer, “in Jesus name” especially if it’s in a setting that is mandatory for the people who are attending.
Being in a secular and pluralistic environment where the meeting is mandatory, the attendees should be informed of the chaplain that is going to pray and given the option to not attend if they do not want to partake in the prayer. This will give the chaplain and the individual freedom in regards to their religious beliefs. Dr. Steve Keith gave a great example on how he held on to his conviction and refused to stop preaching the Gospel when asked by his supervisor. 9 Dr. Keith was blessed by this experience. He was able to continue serving as a military chaplain.
It is legal to say “in Jesus name” in any setting, but each individual should be mindful of others in the room whom may not agree with it. When praying in a secular and pluralistic environment, it is legal to say “in Jesus name” because the constitution gives an individual the right to practice their religion. Based on the scripture John 14: 13 (NKJV) which states, “and whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” 10 The bible gives us many examples of what to say when praying and saying the name “in Jesus name” at the end of the prayer glorifies God because you’re mentioning His Son. God responds to his Son’s name and answers our prayers because of His Son and according to our faith.
 Whittington & Davidson, “Was America founded as a Christian Nation?” 35, assessed September 26, 2018
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 Isaiah 61:1 (New King James Version)
 lbid., 87
 Lawrence & Nickelson, “Chaplain under fire” [Video], assessed September 27, 2018
 Chaplaincy strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats [Video], assessed September 26, 2018
 John 14: 13 (New Kings James Version)
Reply to Vatelle
The first thing to look at it is the Constitution of the United States. The Frist Amendment states, “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 pressor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for redress of grievances.”The freedom of speech and religion gives anyone the right to share their conviction. However, as a chaplain it is important to understand the environment in which you are serving how that is imposed.
I have served in the hospital setting, where you are really in a pluralistic environment. I have had the experience of encountering many different religions and faiths. My goal is never to force my faith or religion on anyone but to meet the person where they are without diminishing my faith. It is only appropriate to do so if there is an inquiry about my religion or faith.
The reasons that chaplains are in existence is to bring some type of faith base to the people they serve. In every area that I have witnessed, chaplains are bringing some type of hope to the individuals they see.
It is always legal to pray in Jesus name whether in a secular setting or a pluralistic setting. Usually in a secular setting there are people that are of the same faith and some that are not. However, if in a secular setting or pluralistic setting, chaplains must be conscious of the environment they are in. Chaplains are not in place to force any issue, religion or faith but to walk alongside the individuals wherever they are in their faith without compromising theirs.
The “Free Exercise Clause protects the individual with the right to public displays of religion.”This allows any individual to pray in Jesus’ name if they so choose. I also keep in mind that chaplains do not want to offend people in their beliefs. Praying in Jesus name can be done in so many different ways that should not take away from the power or impact of the prayer.
Whittington and Davidson, “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, 44, accessed September 26, 2018,
Whittington and Davidson, “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, 47, accessed September 26, 2018