Justitiepastoraat: een doorslaand succes

Translated title of the contribution: Prison chaplaincy: a devastating success

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The way the Dutch penitentiary system deals with religion reflects a relatively long history of religious diversity. Representatives of organized denominations – religious or secular – are allowed to participate in a system that gives chaplains (called ‘spiritual counselors’) a status as civil servants, while they are directed by their own head of chaplaincy (religious or Humanistic). This system, in which the state subsidizes initiatives of civil society, favors, or even promotes, the formation of organized worldviews. Thus far, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Humanists, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists have succeeded in obtaining a position in this system. Representatives of other religions are also welcome as chaplains, but are not salaried by the state and integrated in the judicial system: they remain visitors with special privileges.
This extended oligopoly is a particular way of guaranteeing the freedom of religion and belief in a heterogeneous context. Dutch prison chaplaincy is therefore also less determined by security policies than in other countries. Indirectly, the Dutch system regulates religion by promoting the formation of distinct categories, such as ‘Humanistic’ – resulting from a campaign for the interests of the not-religious detainees – and ‘Muslim’ – an umbrella term for all the different detainees who have an affinity with Islam, now considered as belonging to one ‘background community’. The same is true for the construction of spiritual care as a practice that transcends the boundaries of its founding religion. In this sense, prison chaplaincy can be called a devastating success.
Translated title of the contributionPrison chaplaincy: a devastating success
Original languageDutch
Title of host publicationLiefde in tijden van detentie
EditorsRyan van Eijk, Theo W.A. de Wit, Reijer J. de Vries, Sjaak Körver
Place of PublicationNijmegen
PublisherWolf Legal Publishers (WLP)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9789462405868
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2020

Publication series

NamePublicatiereeks van het Centrum voor Justitiepastoraat
PublisherWolf Legal Publishers (WLP)


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