Pharyngula

Here’s a real horror story: a place called Mercy Ministries claimed to offer psychiatric help to people in Australia, and what they offered instead was nightmarish religious discipline and doctrine. There’s something subtle in there, too, that ought to make us ashamed: the Australian reporter calls it an “American-style ministry”. Isn’t it sad to see that our country is becoming an adjective for idiocy?

Anyway, here’s one woman’s summary of her “treatment”.

Nine months without medical treatment, nine months without any psychiatric care, nine months of being told she was not a good enough Christian to rid herself of the “demons” that were causing her anorexia and pushing her to self-harm. After being locked away from society for so long, Naomi started to believe them. “I just felt completely hopeless. I thought if Mercy did not want to help me where do I stand now?

And here’s another account:

Careful and articulate, her struggle with the horror of her descent into despair at the hands of Mercy is only evidenced by the occasional tremor in her hands and voice as she describes her experience. She was sharing the house with 15 other girls and young women, with problems ranging from teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse, self harm, depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.

“There were girls who had got messed up in the adult sex industry – a real range of problems, some incorporating actual psychiatric illness, others just dealing with messy lives, and the approach to all those problems was the same format,” Johnson says.

Counselling involved working through a white folder containing pre-scripted prayers.

“Most of the staff were current Bible studies or Bible college students, and that is it, if anything. You just cannot play around with mental illness when you do not know what you are doing. Even professionals will acknowledge that it is a huge responsibility working in that field, and that is people who have six years, eight years university study behind them.”

And while there was nothing that was formally termed “exorcism” in the Sydney house, Naomi was forced to stand in front of two counsellors while they prayed and spoke in tongues around her. In her mind, it was an exorcism. “I felt really stupid just standing there – they weren’t helping me with the things going on in my head. I would ask staff for tools on how to cope with the urges to self harm … and the response was: ‘What scriptures are you standing on? Read your Bible.”

This is the bottom line.

And yet Mercy continues to operate without the scrutiny of government authorities, under the radar and with impunity.

Of course. A lot can be forgiven if you just label it “religious”.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 17, 2008

    gas is 3.50 gallon, oil over $100/barrel

    Part of the reason for that is that the US$ has been turned into a pathetic wimp. 1 ? = 1.56 $.

  2. #2 Terri
    May 2, 2008

    Sounds to me that these people are “religious” in everything they do. Including their approach to their own beliefs.
    I happen to be a “Christian” …one that speaks in tongues has spiritual discernment and all that stuff you all have spoken of. I have met and am friends with a woman who definitely has had a “demon” or two. She has been ritually and sexually abused by a cult or group of people involved in the darker regions of the occult. Her programming causes her to be involved in acts that would freak most people out. Because of this, she is mpd with disassociation and ptsd on top of all that. She has been terribly abused and is about to be placed by us in a mental health facility because of her tendancy toward self harm and threatening of others.
    Not all Christians believe that everything that ails you is a demon. There are those of us who truly use what is called common sense and discernment to see when a person really needs a physician or psychiatrist or some sort of medical help.

    I feel for those persons who have been “treated” by “counselors” who practice such misunderstanding of the Word of God to the detriment of others.

  3. #3 Rebekha Jeanne
    March 18, 2009

    There are absolutely a LOT of terrible things going on in the name of Christianity, no doubt about that. However, if you would take the time to study and understand Christianity, you would find out that God gives everyone certain struggles, for example, depression, but faith alone is not the answer for everyone. I know this, being a Christian and struggling with issues of self-harm. Those who would attack my faith would be wrong for it; who are they to say how God will help me overcome, be it Him or another individual?
    I agree; these people need more than to choke on faith, although a balance (faith plus treatment) may just be God’s will.

  4. #4 E.V.
    March 18, 2009

    Rebekha dear: This thread is a year old.

    There are no gods, fairies or invisible pink unicorns. Depression is the result of a combination of things but chiefly neurotransmitters in the brain not working properly. Genetic predisposition, trauma, stress etc. all lead to this psychiatric disorder. Yahweh, faith or trials have nothing to do with it. Seek medical attention from a reputable source. Praying won’t make it go away, I’m telling you that from experience. -Former Seminarian.