Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
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13-10-2014, 06:27 PM
Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
Oh brothers and sisters, so long so long I have been away. But recent events bring me back to our little digital haven and I have many questions with which your brilliants minds may be off assistance.

I am employed by a privately held cooperation in the Midwest. Important business factors: The company employees nearly one thousand people; it is controlled, despite its size, almost entirely by its founder; it is not a nonprofit; it does not have a business presence outside of one state; it is known to prowl the internet snooping on its employees.

Today my dear employer sent out an email informing everyone a "Director of Leadership Development and Personal Growth" had been hired to "maximize personal growth and enhance leadership abilities." This, by the way, is so much business speak. Rarely has anyone ever been promoted from within, employee feedback is consistently ignored—the managers' meeting is affectionately known as "the managers' beating," and pay is not in any way tied to performance. This new employee, the email goes on, is a former pastor and will also be available for "voluntary, private, confidential, individual counseling sessions with employees, which can be approached from a either a secular or faith based frame of reference, depending on the desires of the employee."

Now, my questions:

1 The email makes no mention of his being a licensed counselor or having any education in a related field, indeed a quick internet search reveals he recently left a self described mega church, where he was senior pastor and televangelist, and he has some education in communications, a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies, and a Master's in Divinity. Is he not required to be a licensed counselor to be offering these sessions?

2 Not that I will be attending, but what assurance does anyone have that sessions are in fact private? I am skeptical.

3 That he will offer secular counseling is a nice platitude but, leaving aside his qualifications for the moment, is this truly equal treatment? What if I want faith based counseling for a non-Christian faith? This is no trite point: if the only faith based counseling is for Christians then is this not unequal treatment for those of any other faith?

4 From a business standpoint, all this is quite suspect. Morale at the company is extraordinarily low for many reasons, not least of which is low wages, long hours, and lack of appreciation. Even if a purely secular licensed therapist was hired would it not be alarming that a company in a relatively mundane industry feels it needs a counselor on the payroll? Or is it perhaps cheaper to hire a counselor than raise wages, increase benefits, or refer employes to mental health professionals?

Looking forward to all of your, I'm sure, skeptical and entertaining responses. You have no idea how much I want to seek counseling for my existential crisis as a pastafarian with a wheat allergy.
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13-10-2014, 08:49 PM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
Quote:"voluntary,

As long as it stays that way I see no problem.

Atheism is NOT a Religion. It's A Personal Relationship With Reality!
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13-10-2014, 09:51 PM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
(13-10-2014 06:27 PM)anselm Wrote:  Oh brothers and sisters, so long so long I have been away. But recent events bring me back to our little digital haven and I have many questions with which your brilliants minds may be off assistance.

I am employed by a privately held cooperation in the Midwest. Important business factors: The company employees nearly one thousand people; it is controlled, despite its size, almost entirely by its founder; it is not a nonprofit; it does not have a business presence outside of one state; it is known to prowl the internet snooping on its employees.

Today my dear employer sent out an email informing everyone a "Director of Leadership Development and Personal Growth" had been hired to "maximize personal growth and enhance leadership abilities." This, by the way, is so much business speak. Rarely has anyone ever been promoted from within, employee feedback is consistently ignored—the managers' meeting is affectionately known as "the managers' beating," and pay is not in any way tied to performance. This new employee, the email goes on, is a former pastor and will also be available for "voluntary, private, confidential, individual counseling sessions with employees, which can be approached from a either a secular or faith based frame of reference, depending on the desires of the employee."

Now, my questions:

1 The email makes no mention of his being a licensed counselor or having any education in a related field, indeed a quick internet search reveals he recently left a self described mega church, where he was senior pastor and televangelist, and he has some education in communications, a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies, and a Master's in Divinity. Is he not required to be a licensed counselor to be offering these sessions?

2 Not that I will be attending, but what assurance does anyone have that sessions are in fact private? I am skeptical.

3 That he will offer secular counseling is a nice platitude but, leaving aside his qualifications for the moment, is this truly equal treatment? What if I want faith based counseling for a non-Christian faith? This is no trite point: if the only faith based counseling is for Christians then is this not unequal treatment for those of any other faith?

4 From a business standpoint, all this is quite suspect. Morale at the company is extraordinarily low for many reasons, not least of which is low wages, long hours, and lack of appreciation. Even if a purely secular licensed therapist was hired would it not be alarming that a company in a relatively mundane industry feels it needs a counselor on the payroll? Or is it perhaps cheaper to hire a counselor than raise wages, increase benefits, or refer employes to mental health professionals?

Looking forward to all of your, I'm sure, skeptical and entertaining responses. You have no idea how much I want to seek counseling for my existential crisis as a pastafarian with a wheat allergy.

Definitely sketchy.

First, you could send an email inquiring about the man's qualifications... but why bother if you're not going to see him?

Real psychologists are bound by professional ethics not to release patient information, and they take that damn seriously, and in a lot of states there's some rather pointy laws backing that up. Some religious counselors feel the same way... and some do not.

But more significantly, even if the "counselor" can be trusted to be confidential, the company certainly cannot. They've got a history of snooping, and employers have all sorts of rights when it comes to monitoring employees... especially when the employee in question isn't a really a licensed care provider. Any legal protections that might exist in your state might not apply to this guy. Can management electronically access this person's schedule or client list, given that they own his computers? Can they monitor his phone line? Put a camera outside his office door to see who's coming or going? Put a bug inside is office? Remember, it's actually their office.

But if you really want to do something about your existential crisis, the answer might be closer than you think.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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13-10-2014, 10:21 PM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
I wouldn't ever go to see, or talk to the counselor. You won't need to worry about anything if you just stay away.
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14-10-2014, 04:04 AM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
(13-10-2014 06:27 PM)anselm Wrote:  2 Not that I will be attending, but what assurance does anyone have that sessions are in fact private? I am skeptical.

You could always go along claiming that despite thinking about it every moment of you're waking life you're worried that you may still have overlooked some way of being a better employee.
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14-10-2014, 06:14 AM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
As Minimalist said, so long as it's voluntary, I wouldn't worry about it. Hopefully this isn't one of those "voluntary" thing that is actually required.


(13-10-2014 06:27 PM)anselm Wrote:  3 That he will offer secular counseling is a nice platitude but, leaving aside his qualifications for the moment, is this truly equal treatment? What if I want faith based counseling for a non-Christian faith? This is no trite point: if the only faith based counseling is for Christians then is this not unequal treatment for those of any other faith?

I suppose it's possible that some religious people did ask for this. It seems odd to have it at a work place, but it may be filling a requested role. A lot of people use services I would never personally use.


(13-10-2014 06:27 PM)anselm Wrote:  4 From a business standpoint, all this is quite suspect...Or is it perhaps cheaper to hire a counselor than raise wages, increase benefits, or refer employes to mental health professionals?

It wouldn't surprise me if someone in management recently read a book or attended a seminar that is touting this as the new big thing. I've worked for four large companies in various capacities over the last twenty years, and every one of them has shown signs of buying into some particular flavor of canned management.


(13-10-2014 06:27 PM)anselm Wrote:  You have no idea how much I want to seek counseling for my existential crisis as a pastafarian with a wheat allergy.

Just like Christians can have non-alcoholic wine at communion, so to can Pastafarians have gluten-free pasta. Of course, like the non-alcoholic wine, it's fuckin terrible. You're screwed!
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14-10-2014, 06:27 AM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
Just because he is an expastor does not mean he will come in and preach. I think a wait and see approach would be best. Since he was at a mega-church the preaching part may be a higher risk. Also, depending on the denomination, he may have had extensive training in consoling. Without asking you will not know.

FWIW I would never utilize an at work consoler. The risk of violation of privacy is to high and I would not want my coworkers to look at me funny when I left for a consoling session.
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14-10-2014, 06:35 AM
RE: Employer Hired a Pastor for Faith Based Counseling
I'm trying to think of why you would stay there?

Avoid the "counselor", get that resume out to a few recruiters.


Life is too short to work for assholes.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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