“Chaplains” is a two-hour documentary film that offers dramatic, personal portraits of the men and women who represent varying faith traditions, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist, and the wide array of professional environments where they serve. Chaplains are called upon to minister both to people of similar faith and those whose religious beliefs may be very different from their own. In a world growing more and more uncivil – especially in matters of religion – chaplains model a behavior that goes beyond tolerance as they honor the faith tradition of others without compromising their own.
“Chaplains” is a unique and interesting documentary, because it focuses on chaplains in every situation imaginable. This includes chaplains serving at prisons, for NASCAR, with the police, in the military, at Tyson Foods, and in other situations. Various chaplains are interviewed about their jobs, their backgrounds and in what ways they help people. Also, the documentary shares that chaplains for various faiths are available in many places. Perhaps surprisingly, in one prison, a Wiccan chaplain serves, and so does the first female Buddhist chaplain.
One of the best things about the film is that it shows the chaplains encouraging, helping and comforting people in times of sickness, when they have suffered loss, and when they get lonely. One chaplain accompanies the police when they find an elderly woman dead on arrival after receiving word she hadn’t been seen outside her home for four days.
The documentary features an interview with John Tyson, the chairman of Tyson Foods, who says his company is faith friendly, and they have a chaplaincy program for their employees. He mentions that a lot of their employees are refugees, which is why he has various chaplains employed in order to meet each person’s need according to their particular faith. In an inspiring note, the film mentions that more than 90 percent of Tyson employees look favorably on the chaplaincy program being available at their work.
The film features touching scenes of prisoners who made bad decisions but now have regrets, and scenes of the new lives they have found and the help they have received from their chaplains. One interesting statistic states that Oregon, strong on the chaplaincy program, has a 23 percent return rate of prisoners within three years, while nationwide it is 43 percent. Another nice aspect of the film is that it shows chaplains of various religious backgrounds respecting each other and working together. When a chaplain is not comfortable with certain aspects he faces due to personal convictions, he or she can pass the person or people on to another chaplain. We are pleased to award “Chaplains” our “Faith-Friendly” 12-plus Seal. After viewing this film, many viewers will have more appreciation for chaplains for the hope they bring those who need them.