If your sole source for knowledge about chaplains is the British Humanist Society or (especially) the National Secular Society, it is possible that you may have a distorted view of what we do. It may be akin to a Derek Nimmo type figure, spouting irrelevance and intent on conversion; a waste of time and money in other words. The NHS/other state organisation has so little money it shouldn’t waste it on religion etc. I’m open to most points of view,but that kind of argument seems to be close to someone putting their fingers in their ears, going ‘Can’t hear you’ whilst shouting out their point of view untrammelled by actually listening or observing what you are critiquing.
A research article I recently read said this:-
‘Our participants also highlighted both spiritual/religious and pastoral benefits of chaplain interventions….For example, the ability to talk openly to a critical friend was highly valued. Participants found it easier to talk to chaplains than to other staff as chaplains did not have any ‘ulterior motives’. However the key message was that there was no healing without spiritual healing and that healing was a gift from God. Although other mental health professionals were respected for the work they did the participants were clear that if their spiritual needs were not met, they would either heal more slowly or not at all.’
Raffay et al p84 Health and Social Care Chaplaincy Vol 4.1 2016
From reading other sources, but more importantly working in the field, this seems to be the case of a significant number of people- however they define ‘God’ or ‘spiritual’.
Working as part of something, yet apart from something and with no ‘ulterior motives’, wanted and needed (and at the same time not wanted and sometimes sidelined/experiencing hostility); there are many days when I pinch myself and say ‘Wow: I am paid for doing this!’