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Religiously Unacceptable Insanity October 17, 2008

Posted by sociallyacceptableinsanity in Atheism.
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An October 15, 2008 LiveScience.com article, titled Church Pastors Dismiss Mental Illness, is yet another example of religious stupidity at its best.

The article, which discusses a study done by Baylor University, states:

“In a study of Christian church members who approached their church for help with a personal or family member’s diagnosed mental illness, researchers found that more than 32 percent were told by their pastor that they or their loved one did not really have a mental illness.”

The problem was solely spiritual in nature, they were told.”

Isn’t that just great?  You’re suffering mental anguish, perhaps even hearing voices, but when you seek help from your pastor or clergy member (someone whom you trust to have your best interests at heart), that person dismisses your legitimate mental problems and blames it on a not being “right” with god?  That is so supremely stupid, dangerous, and callous that it is almost impossible to comprehendTo make matters worse, the article goes on to say “those whose mental illness is dismissed by clergy are not only being told they don’t have a mental illness, they are also being told they need to stop taking their medication.”

I thought we had left the Dark Ages behind us, but evidently we have not.  What’s next, flogging and burning at the stake?  And is it any surprise that the study found that “women were more likely than men to have their mental disorders dismissed by the church?”

Lest you think that perhaps these people weren’t actually mentally ill, read on. 

“All of the participants in both studies were previously diagnosed by a licensed mental health provider as having a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder and schizoprenia, prior to approaching their local church for assistance.”

One wonders how many potentially violent or suicidal people have been pursuaded by their religious leaders to forego scientific treatment for their illness, and perhaps gone on to harm others or themselves.  One is also left to wonder if religion ever gets anything right. 

From where I stand, I’d say the answer is no.