Governmental Chaplaincy Program
Since 2004, Governmental Chaplaincy and Religious Diversity (G-CARD) training has been offered to state and federal correctional institution chaplaincy directors. In 2015, we added programming specifically focused on military chaplaincy. The two-day conference trainings include a primer on legal issues involved in providing religious accommodation and updates on recent court decisions. Leading religious studies experts host sessions on religious groups to familiarize chaplains with various practices, beliefs, ritual objects, worship space, garments, holidays, literature, dietary or grooming restrictions, and more. Each year's program is designed to meet the needs of attendees and final programs are finalized after consulting attendees.
The Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism (CERP) and the American Academy of Religion (AAR) co-sponsor free G-CARD training for senior officials who oversee chaplaincy in governmental institutions, including statewide and federal prison chaplaincy directors, senior military chaplains, and those who oversee military chaplaincy endorsements. The training focuses on religions in all their diversity, especially on religions that tend to be less familiar. The conference also provides updates on the law affecting chaplaincy, as well as opportunities for attendees to share best practices across jurisdictions.
Over the years, more than 30 leading religion scholars and chaplaincy directors from 26 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have participated.
As a nonprofit organization whose purpose includes educating the public about religion, it is our privilege and honor to work with governmental chaplains. Ignorance about less familiar religions can cause a lot of unnecessary civil strife in the world, and our goal is to share our expertise to bridge those knowledge gaps. We are an academic institution and are committed to educating people about religions without favoring any particular religion.
What Participants Say
"Donʼt believe Iʼve ever been to a more valuable session . . . my entire correctional career (nearly 25 yrs)!" - Rev. J. Randy Myers, President, Grace Inside (Virginia's Prison Chaplain service)
"To meet with Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan scholars was so very helpful." - Chuck Glenn, Chair, Religion Study Committee, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
"The ability to wrestle with how best to accommodate religious practices in a prison setting was invaluable." - Ulli Klemm, Administrator, Religion, Volunteer & Recreational Services, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Scholarship For Practitioners
"Each scholar brought a mastery of the subject and engaged questions with sensitivity and understanding." - Bruce Fenner, then Assistant Chaplain Administrator, Federal Bureau of Prisons
"I only wish all chaplains had the opportunity to be exposed to the scholars and their work." - Sister Susan van Baalen, then FBOP Chaplain Administrator
"The level of scholarship was evident and the relevance for my job perfect." - Mark J. Leonard, then Director, Ministerial, Family & Volunteer Services, New York Department of Correctional Services
A Community of Practice
"Especially grateful for the knowledge that Iʼm not alone. Weʼre all facing the same challenges." - Ron Turner, retired Director of Religious Services, Tennessee Department of Corrections
"Itʼs extremely beneficial to be able to learn from and share information with other states." - Kelli West, Religious Practices Coordinator, Wisconsin Department of Corrections
"My attendance allows me the opportunity to return to my agency with best practices ideas." - Joe Baldassano, former Chair, Religion Study Committee, Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
Past Session Topics
Black Islam: Nation of Gods & Earths
Chaplaincy History and Future
Chaplain Religious Freedom
Interfaith Leadership & Legal Updates
Kemetic Religion: History & Practices
Leadership and Legal Issues
Moral Injury and Identities in Crisis
Native American Church vs. Native American Spirituality
Native American ReligionsbNew Religious Movements
Norse Religions: History & Practices
Orthodox Christianity: History & Practices
Perils & Promise of Chaplaincy Today
Racism in Christianity & Paganism in the U.S.
Religion and Racism
Trends in Anti-Catholic, Anti-Evangelical and Anti-Mormon Bias
Understanding the Differences Between Racism, Bias, Discrimination, & Racial Prejudice
Western Esotericism (including Thelema and Golden Dawn groups)