2019 Annual Meeting, Nov 23-26

The 2019 Annual Meeting will be in San Diego, CA, November 23-26. Register Now!

2019 Regional Meetings

Open Calls for Papers:

Deadline: October 1, 2019

Chaplaincy Program: Overview

AAR-CERP Annual Chaplaincy Conference

Governmental Chaplaincy and Religious Diversity (G-CARD): Toward Best Practices

Dancers at Fall Powwow

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism (CERP) cosponsor 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.

Jewish Chaplain Iraq

Since 2004, G-CARD training has been offered to state and federal correctional institution chaplaincy directors. In 2015, we began to offer programming specifically focused on military chaplaincy, along with our usual programming focused on chaplaincy in correctional settings. Trainings generally take place Friday afternoon and all day Saturday of the conference, which is held in various cities in the United States. In 2018, the conference is in Denver, CO, November 16–17. There is no fee or membership requirement to attend. AAR Annual Conference hotel discounts are available to attendees.

Sikh Soldier

The session topics vary from year to year, based on the needs of those expressing interest in attending. Always included is a basic primer on understanding the legal issues involved in providing religious accommodation and the chaplain’s role in ensuring such accommodation takes place—including an update on recent court decisions. Most of the rest of the program consists of sessions with leading religious studies experts on religious groups the attendees have encountered, but whose practices may not be familiar. In the sessions, attendees learn about adherents’ beliefs, ritual objects, worship space, garments, holidays, literature, dietary or grooming restrictions, and more. Most sessions are about an hour and a half in length and include lots of time for participants’ questions and discussion. Session time is allotted to best practices discussions among the attendees about various religions on topics such as accommodation of religious attire and artifacts/items, diet, and communal rituals, security threat groups or accommodating chaplains’ religious rights. After consulting those interested in attending, a specific agenda is posted on the AAR website in early-to-mid October.

Man Behind BarsOver the years, more than 30 leading religion scholars and chaplaincy directors from 26 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons have participated. Although the sessions’ content is based on academic scholarship, the language used is geared toward anyone, regardless of what post-secondary education an attendee may or may not have. The sessions have received considerable praise from previous G‑CARD participants. Here is a description of the Sponsors and Presiders for 2018.

2018 Overall Chaplaincy Conference Schedule


Denver 2018 AAR-CERP Chaplaincy Conference Schedule


1:00-1:15 Welcome, Meet & Greet, Introductions w/refreshments–Patrick McCollum

1:15-2:45 SESSION 1 – Damon Berry -- “Racism in Christianity and Paganism in the U.S.”

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-4:30 SESSION 2 – Herbert Berg -- “Black Islam, with a focus on Nation of Gods and Earths”

4:30-4:45 Break 

4:45-6:15 SESSION 3 – Michael Strmiska -- “Norse Religions: History and Practices”

6:15-6:30 Closing Thoughts for the Day/Main Take-Aways

7:00 Evening:  Hosted Drinks (Location TBD)


8:00-8:15 Welcome, Meet & Greet, Introductions w/refreshments– Barbara A. McGraw

8:15-9:45 SESSION 4 – Donald Westbrook -- Scientology

9:45-9:55 Break

9:55-11:20 SESSION 5 – Barbara A McGraw -- “Interfaith Leadership” & “Legal Updates: Sincerity”

11:45-1:00 Lunch (together, but not hosted; Location TBD)

1:15-2:45 SESSION 6 – Gaston Espinosa --“Trends in Anti-Catholic, Anti-Evangelical, and Anti-Mormon Bias”

2:45-3:00 Break

3:00-4:30 SESSION 7 – Joseph Laycock -- “Satanism”

4:30-4:45 Break

4:45-6:00 SESSION 8 – Wendy Cadge -- “Perils and Promise of Chaplaincy Today”

6:00-6:30 Closing Thoughts for the Day/Main Take-Aways Evening: Dinner on our own


Sunday through Tuesday morning: Regular AAR sessions

Especially consider the following sessions and the book exhibit:

Especially Recommended:

A19-139 Monday 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. “Chaplaincy Innovation Lab” Hyatt Regency-Capitol 1 (4th level)

A19-325 Monday 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. “Spiritual Practices/Spiritual Governance” Convention Center 506 (Street level)


Other Programs with Relevant Topics:

A18-312 Sunday --3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. “Death, Dying, and Beyond Unit and Psychology, Culture and Religion Unit” Convention Center-Mile High 1B (Lower level)

A18-419 Sunday 5:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. “Indigenous Religious Traditions Unit: The Transformative Values of Memory: The Interface of Religion and Healing” Convention Center-111 (Street level)

A19-319 Monday 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. “Moral Injury and Recovery in Religion, Society, and Culture Unit” Hyatt Regency-Mineral B (3rd level)

A20-101 Tuesday 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. “Black Theology, American Civil Religion, and Public Theology” Convention Center-Mile High 3A (lower level)

A20-129 Tuesday 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. “Psychology, Culture, and Religion Union” Hyatt Regency-Centennial G (3rd level) 

For topics and speakers, see the Program page.

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