Do no harm……..

Greek philosopher Hippocrates has been considered the “Father of Medicine”.  His tenets have been embodied in the oath that new physicians recite upon graduation from education to practice of medicine.  The Hippocratic school lists this as part of its instruction: “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient”.

United Methodist Bishop Reuben Job in his book “Three Simple Rules” reminds us of the simple philosophy of John Wesley, founder of Methodism. “Do no harm.  Do good.  Stay in love with God.” Never has such guidance been needed more than today.

Some among us practice religion in a way that seeks to glorify themselves, build their own kingdom and power and, in doing so, are harming others.  Never has such guidance as that of John Wesley been needed more than today.


Report of one woman’s experience, written 2-9-16

I have been surprised and saddened by the experience of a young lady who was subjected to an “exorcism” during a time when she was in mental anguish, confused, and had been without her mental health and hormone medications following a period of detoxification. A woman working in a substance abuse program (which, by the way, does not bill itself as a religious or faith-based program) and a pastor of a local church that the worker attends and who has strong family ties there, “diagnosed” through some sort of diagrammatic spiritual assessment using colored markers and a drawing that this young lady was demon-possessed. Now, tell me, does anyone with the true gift of discernment of spirits need the allegedly possessed individual to respond to some sort of drawing with colored markers to determine such a thing? No. I would strongly suggest that such a practice borders on occultic practice, comparable to consulting a ouija board or a crystal ball.

Should such an effort to free one from evil influences leave her further confused, traumatized, fearful, hysterical, unable to sleep, having nightmares, fearing that she’d been drugged, and pleading for someone to help her to the extent that she was taken to the emergency department of a local hospital immediately afterward and told not to tell anyone what happened, then the next day for evaluation to a crisis center (which determined that she was not suicidal or a candidate for hospitalization)? Thankfully, she was then taken to a close confidential friend after that evaluation who prayed with her. Then a staff person in the program had the good sense to call and find the young lady another place to go as the influences around her there were obviously making her distress worse instead of better.

Spiritual care needs to be done in coordination with good mental health practices in the light of day- in gentle and loving ways, not practiced in secrecy in the dark of night in a vacant church, surreptitiously and without the consent and presence of qualified staff where one is being treated. Holding people down with a Bible at their throat, touching them and applying “anointing oil” against their express stated desire, and subjecting them to the ridicule and suspicion of others by stating in view of others in substance abuse treatment that she is “demon-possessed” is not “best practice” anywhere that I know of. The young lady has confronted the pastor today when she recognized the church and we stopped in the office for her to identify him. He recognized the young lady immediately, as she also recognized and identified him as the one who participated in this midnight mess. He admitted that he had been present at the event we asked about then realized quickly that he had overstepped boundaries in a way that is not acceptable when I began asking more questions. I asked for a copy of this alleged spiritual assessment diagram. But instead of a prompt apology, she (and I) were told to have an attorney request any further information. Anyone want to take on the case? A grievance is being filed with appropriate authorities at a higher level after a meeting earlier today with the immediate supervisors of the treatment center involved who stated that they had investigated the complaint and that these events did not happen as reported. This is a problem. Religious abuse is denied and hidden. Mental health agencies are unwilling to accept responsibility for things that happen on their premises. And this is reportedly not the first young lady who’s been subjected to such activities at this facility. but we do hope she will be the last. If her complaint is not given legitimate investigation and individuals responsible held accountable, we will make the incident and names and places public and ask for others who have been subjected to this abuse to come forward. I look forward to the newly passed laws for certification of substance abuse facilities that passed in the most recent legislative session. Perhaps then there will be a means to weed out such irresponsible practices (whether sanctioned or unsanctioned by the facility’s staff). The facility should be required to conduct an honest and thorough investigation that does not whitewash the event and suggest that it was all in someone’s mind. This is why individuals are fearful of reporting abuse of mental health clients whether it is physical, spiritual, or emotional…..they are not believed and they are dismissed by some in authority without dignity and care for the impact the bad conduct has had on them.

Addendum:  2-16-16

2 Corinthians 4:2:  Because we have this ministry in Christ Jesus, we do not engage in secrecy, shameful conduct, deception, or distortion of the Word.” 

As we have explored further the attempt at “exorcism” or “spiritual therapy” that was carried out on a young lady in the dark of night by a woman and her pastor, under secrecy in a local non-denominational church, it has come out that sacred geometry was invoked, a new age practice with elements of ancient Jewish Kabbalism, worship of nature and its order and geometric designs, and Eastern spiritual traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism.  Mandalas, as they are called, may be used for focusing attention of practitioners as a spiritual guidance tool, as an aid to meditation and trance induction.  Such meditation and “deliverance” rituals practiced this way are not biblical or “spiritual therapy”.  It is spiritism or worship that invokes a New World Order.  This kind of syncretistic folk religion is akin to voodoo, magic, “metaphysics”, or spiritual abuse.  It is an attempt to command and control the power of God and the mystery of faith.  It’s what the charlatan Simon the Sorcerer attempted to do in Acts 8:9-25 when he observed the power of the Holy Spirit as Peter and other apostles healed and preached the Gospel or Christ.

Such meditation and “deliverance” rituals practiced this way are not biblical or “spiritual therapy”.  It is spiritualism, worship of the coming “New World Order”, meaning that which Christ will institute at his second coming.

As Wikipedia describes it in Western practice:

“According to art therapist and mental health counselor Susanne F. Fincher, we owe the re-introduction of mandalas into modern Western thought to Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst. In his pioneering exploration of the unconscious through his own art making, Jung observed the motif of the circle spontaneously appearing. The circle drawings reflected his inner state at that moment. Familiarity with the philosophical writings of India prompted Jung to adopt the word “mandala” to describe these circle drawings he and his patients made. In his autobiography, Jung wrote:

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time….Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:…the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

— Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, pp. 195 – 196.

Jung recognized that the urge to make mandalas emerges during moments of intense personal growth. Their appearance indicates a profound re-balancing process is underway in the psyche. The result of the process is a more complex and better integrated personality.

“The mandala serves a conservative purpose—namely, to restore a previously existing order. But it also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique…. The process is that of the ascending spiral, which grows upward while simultaneously returning again and again to the same point.”

— Jungian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz, C. G. Jung: Man and His Symbols, p. 225

Creating mandalas helps stabilize, integrate, and re-order inner life.

According to the psychologist David Fontana, its symbolic nature can help one “to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises.”

The practices this young lady experienced reflect the teaching of Carl Jung, whose mother was a Spiritualist, the use of spirit guides which Jung practiced, and an attempt to universalize or harmonize all religious beliefs and practices under a psychological theory of “self” individuation.  Some practitioners today see it as preparation for the New World Order which will be accomplished with Christ’s return. 

Part of the reason I have sought appointment as clergy in my role in recovery counseling and Christian education is to bring such practices to light, to advocate for those who are being deceived and abused by misrepresentations like this, and to assure that the Church has a legitimate and appropriate role in “spiritual therapy” (not physically and emotionally traumatic exorcisms!) for people with mental health and substance abuse issues as part of a holistic and accountable continuum of care in partnership with mental health, social work, and other community partners.