I received an email from someone who watched my Fresno State lecture on YouTube. The author made light of the term"Minority Faith" in reference to a more colorful meaning, and asked some clarification questions about what I do at the Prison, and more exactly what I do at the Prison, so here's more on that...
First of all, on "Minority Faiths". I have had people tell me that Wicca and/or Paganism IS NOT A MINORITY FAITH!!! Well, with all due respect I disagree. Twice. Speaking as a proud Wiccan who believes that Wicca is one of the fastest growing religions in the world today I disagree. Moving up a notch into the umbrella of Paganism I am inclined to believe it's even larger and growing faster but again I disagree. I do think We as Pagans are still a minority faith, which is actually beside the point.
My second count of the disagreement is based on the origin of the term itself. In the great state of California, the Prison system only hires Chaplains for five faiths. (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim & Native American) So these five are the majority faiths, and if your a resident at one of our lovely state facilities and your not one of these faiths, guess what you are? That's right a "Minority Faith".
Now to answer some great questions. Yes, I am literally the Chaplain for everyone else. How I do that is simply a case by case basis. What I do is a lot. LOL. But seriously I provide a variety of services. So lets start there, with services. Basically I run religious ceremonies that function as an "Interfaith ritual". There are groups that run their own rituals, but can't do it without supervision. So for them I simply bring a few items they cannot have and participate in what they are doing, I like to call this facilitation.
Last week was a great week. I helped with a RLUIPA project. The prison I work with does not have religious grounds established for Pagans but has recently started making plans to do so. I was honored to advise and assist this the planning of the Pagan religious grounds and am looking forward to holding services there by Samhain. Friday I responded to requests for interviews by inmates, these are always challenging because you never know what your going to get yourself into. Sometimes inmates want one-on-one spiritual counseling and sometimes you are the complaint department.
Friday I was both. I love a challenge. While I must keep the subjects of the sessions privileged, I will say that one of those calls resulted in a new program for the Asatru inmates to include use of a mead horn. Am I qualified to conduct Asatru religious services? No, I am not, but that's not what I am doing. What I am doing is working in cooperation with Asatru & Norse Pagan groups, doing my homework on the needs of the inmates, the requirement of the faith and the policy of the prison; I create a middle ground for religious accommodation. Once I find that middle ground I bless it and plant seeds...
I can't wait to go back, I've got so much watering to do.