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My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness
April 7th, 2013
02:55 PM ET

My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness

Editor’s Note: Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research organization. He blogs at edstetzer.com and his most recent book is "Subversive Kingdom."

By Ed Stetzer, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The first time I dealt with mental illness in church was with a man named Jim. I was young and idealistic - a new pastor serving in upstate New York. Jim was a godsend to us. He wanted to help, and his energy was immeasurable. He'd visit with me, sing spontaneously, pray regularly and was always ready to help.

Until he was gone.

For days and sometimes weeks at a time, he would struggle with darkness and depression. During this time, he would withdraw from societal interaction and do practically nothing but read Psalms and pray for hours on end. I later learned that this behavior is symptomatic of what is often called bipolar disorder or, in years before, manic depression.

I prayed with Jim. We talked often about the need for him to take his medicine, but he kept asking God to fix him. Eventually, at his lowest point and filled with despair, he took his own life.

As a young pastor unacquainted with how to deal with these events, I found myself searching for answers. I realized two things:

First, people with mental illness are often attracted to religion and the church, either to receive help in a safe environment or to live out the worst impulses of their mental illness.

Second, most congregations, sadly, have few resources for help.

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This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren's son Matthew. Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son's illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, "The Purpose Driven Life." This weekend, Matthew took his own life - putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.

Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.

Mental illness is incredibly destructive, and the end result is not always ours to determine.

Matthew's life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.

So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?

1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness.

So often in a congregation, we like to pretend this is not a real issue because we have such a difficult time understanding it. We stick our heads in the sand, add the person to the prayer list and continue on ministering to the “normal” people. But it’s real, and it isn’t going away. In 2009, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed 17% of respondents as having been diagnosed with depression. There are people in the pews every week - ministers, too - struggling with mental illness or depression, and we need to recognize this.

2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.

We are often afraid of mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. As a result, we don’t know what to do with our own level of discomfort and our fears for safety, or we just don’t want to be inconvenienced.

A study from Baylor University indicates “that while help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families with mental illness, it ranked 42nd on the list of requests from families that did not have a family member with mental illness.” This is a real need among our congregations, one that we absolutely cannot ignore or expect to go away. People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.

3. We should not be afraid of medicine.

I realize this can be a heated debate. I also recognize that medication must be handled with care - as it should with any condition. But many mental health issues are physiological. Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness.

We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.

4. We need to end the shame.

I saw it in my own family. Suicide has struck our family more than once, making the news where we wished it did not. When my aunt was arrested for gun smuggling to Ireland, our family did not think of this as an issue of Irish revolution. She was brilliant, a lawyer and a doctor, but mentally ill. Her involvement in the Irish "revolution" was one in a long line of bad choices driven by her illness and eventually led to her suicide.

Yet, it was hard to talk of these things. They had to be “handled in the dark” because “no one could know.” I love my family. But shame was something that was difficult to avoid in every case.

Let’s be honest. These are typically delicate situations. And we want to protect the privacy and dignity of the people we love, particularly when they are behaving in ways that might draw negative attention. But compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Why should this be of concern to people of faith? Simply put, there is no place where Americans are more connected and no place where grace is more expected than the church.

Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs, but the greater community that holds those beliefs can be key to the lifelong process of dealing with mental illness. Most research points to the fact that more religious people tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, but religious activities do not remove people of faith from sickness of either kind.

Christians believe the church is the body of Christ—the hands and feet of Jesus—and that means going into the darkest places and the toughest situations to bring light. It means walking with those who are suffering, no matter what the suffering looks like.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Stetzer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church

soundoff (873 Responses)
  1. Karla

    The thing is, God's existence is not dependent on whether any of us believe or disbelieve. He Is!!!! A wise man once said, "I would rather live believing that God is then to die and to find out that He doesn't exist; than to live believing that He doesn't exist and to die and find out that He does exist. Furthermore, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Funny how you don't hear arguments against the existence of that lying, thieving, murdering satan. Why? Because he is behind all of the denials and unbelief about God. Even Satan knows that God exists. Scripture tells us that satan is the one who has blinded the eyes and hearts of the unbeliever. Everyone who denies God knows deep in their heart that He does exist. It's sinful pride that causes man to deny the One True God, because man wants to be his own God so he creates a God that serves him. All the while not realizing that they are truly serving Satan and he is laughing all the way to hell at the many blinded ones he is taking with him. He knows his end and that he is already defeated so he is taking all who will go with him. Say you're not serving Satan, well the Bible tells us that anyone not serving God is serving Satan. So you can reject God but don't get mad at people who love God and state the truth. God is, He was and will always be.....God. Any argument against what I have stated shows that Satan is truly at work because he knows everything I have stated here comes straight from the word of God.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • JWT

      Hmm and yet there is no god and no satan. Of course you are free to believe that there is and that's your right. But please don't have the utter delusion that your beliefs in them apply to the rest of us. Becasue they do not.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Karla

      LOL You're just ridiculous. "I'm right and if you disagree then you're proving my assertions right because I said so".
      Truly a pathetic pile of shit that you posted.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #5 – Circular "holy" book reasoning + sweaty fervor = mental retardation. (See Law #4)

      April 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  2. sam strickland

    A person with medical problems being helped by a person with imaginary friends complex just will not work.

    April 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  3. Lucky

    Most people are raised to think that mental illness is something to avoid at all cost and that it brings shame on the families that have one of their own that is afflicted with it. People that are not touched by it do not know how to deal with it so they unlike the good Samaritan go around the problem. Education is the answer and this needs to be addressed where and how I will leave that up to you. Some Christians relate mental illness to the stories in the New Testament where Jesus called out the demons of mentally ill people. Are we right to think that demons do not possess people of today? Just asking, if so what changed? A lot of people don't believe in demons even some Christians, I am not saying all mentally ill are demon possessed but I think in some cases they may be. But I know it is also an illness because some Christians are afflicted with it, if they have invited Jesus into their heart it is impossible for a demon to live there also. Prayer is powerful, Jesus prayed constantly and that should be one of the first things we should do.

    April 9, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • JWT

      Prayer may help an afflicted person feel that others care about and it may make the prayers feel better, but the metally ill need medcial attention. Prayer is not going to help or cure their disease.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • the real Tom

      If you are do daft that you think "some" people have demon-caused illness, you are the one who needs medical treatment, Lucky.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Ridiculous and potentially harmful advice.

      Seek professional/medical help when dealing with mental illness. Anything less is negligent

      You can't pray away a broken leg and you can't pray away mental illness.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  4. Bob

    people with true mental illness is differenent then just feeling down.

    I have suffered for 40+ years with true illness, I did all the things a peerson could do to be cured.....it's.not going to happen..... but with my Faith and drugs councleing and relazing that there is no one pill that will fix it. I have learned how to controll it as best as posable

    We do not choose to be ill just like you cant choose to have a cancer. You have to treat it and different just like cancers are treated differntly from simple to majior chemo, radition, and suregy.

    Just like feeling down you may just need to talk to some one or pull your boot straps up, If that does not work you will need more from thepary to majior drugs thepary and other procudures.

    It can be Deadly

    I have had many bad experinces in churches and I still have a strong faith I know the people don't understand it. I am very open about it to every one I dont hide it the only way for others to learn is to not hide from it. I can almost bet every one knows some with a true mental illness...most of the time Drugs and Alcohol usage is used for self medcating them self's. Look when you have a bad day many will have a glass of wine or beer after work. so if you have major mental issues you will use alot more.

    April 9, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  5. GodFreeNow

    If anyone can truly empathize with a deluded mind, then I think it would be religious people. Whether you're talking schizophrenia, bi-polar, depression or a general inability to grasp or accept reality, the parallels are pretty self-evident.

    April 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • The real Tom

      There are many people who have faith and do believe. They're not "mentally ill" by any definition. I don't begrudge them their beliefs. There are millions who are nothing like some of the azzwipes who post their drivel here; they're not stupid and they aren't insane.

      April 8, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  6. JustSayin

    I am surprised people don't know this. The truth is that born again, holy living, believers in Jesus Christ possess a bold, brave confidence that is steady and cannot be shaken. It is not possible to receive proper mental health services from non believers because they do not possess the Author of peace. All unbelievers are already deceived by their act of rejecting the truth Jesus Christ and they will never be sane until they have a relationship with the Creator. What is so great snout Jesus and the Holy Spirit is that He hides the truth from the belligerent blasphemers and from those who contradict themselves because He doesn't want such people to have understanding about precious truth. He hardens the hearts of the belligerent so that they cannot see. Its like a judgement. The more Anti-Christ a person is the blinder they become and then they base their lives on a lie while all the while trying to convince sane Christians that they are fools. Talk about crazy!

    April 8, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • You are right! Praise Praise Praise Him!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM

      April 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • ME II

      "He hides the truth from the belligerent blasphemers and from those who contradict themselves because He doesn't want such people to have understanding about precious truth."

      If He hides it, then how are unbelievers supposed to find the "truth" and believe?

      April 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Well, that's an idiotic crock, but it's also completely aside. Train up enough Christian psychologists to cover your needs. A serious problem arises insofar as most people, when exposed tot he raw data on how the brain works, will veer from conservative Christianity. But if you feed enough into the system you should get out enough who can keep their veil of delusion long enough to treat people. Because this is real and serious stuff and something everyone should be thinking about.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • PrismSharpener

      Benny Hinn HEALED a relative of someone that I heard about from a friend at church!! I think they had cancer. One should watch their tongue when they spout off and make fun at the Lord's healing!

      April 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Pete

      "The truth is that born again, holy living, believers in Jesus Christ possess a bold, brave confidence that is steady and cannot be shaken."

      That's why so many people are becoming atheists and leaving religion all together. Oh, look another Christian is lying.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Akira

      Healed a relative of someone who you heard about from someone else? Oh, that's clearly evidence.

      April 8, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • willremainundefined

      People like you are part of the problem and one of the biggest reasons churches aren't overflowing with lost and hurting people instead of full of a bunch of smug saints. When you are elitist and treat church like a country club where only the best of the best are truly accepted you have failed miserably.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:14 am |
    • Deborah

      Get help. Get help NOW.

      The whole point of the story is that Jesus, prayer, church, and preachers don't get the job done, and have abysmal results and even less understanding of and empathy for the mentally ill than even the average "heathen."

      Also, the notion that God purposely hides the "truth" from people, resulting in them burning in hell forever, is beyond sick and twisted. There is something wrong with you and anyone else who worships something that you believe would do something like that. So get help before you infect anyone else with what is not just insanity, but the deliberate embracing of it.

      April 9, 2013 at 5:51 am |
  7. Karin

    Religious organizations should be the last place one should direct individuals with mental illness. People without mental illness have enough anxiety dealing with their religion. All that brain power to stomp out innate reasoning in favor of their delusional belief.
    I mean seriously, when was the last time you walked up to someone with a mental illness and said; "Be good or, you will be torched for eternity"?
    The best place for those with mental illness is in the hands of those with whom are trained in mental illness. IE; Doctor, nurse, counselor and so on.

    April 8, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • { ! }

      "Inate reasoning"? What do you mean by "reasoning"? You atheists refer to reason the way Christians refer to God. You never describe what Reason is, what its attributes are. You never prove that your own reason is valid. You say "think for yourself". But you never acknowledge that thinking is hard work, that you are capable of it, or that idiots will think idiotic thoughts. One thing is clear: in matters of religion, the atheist establishes his conclusion ("God doesn't exist"), and "reasons" toward that conclusion. Thankfully, scientists don't do this. YOu want evidence for God? Would you recognize such evidence if you saw it?

      Here's a challenge for you "reasoners": start thinking.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Actually, scientists do. Apparently you have no idea who Richard Dawkins or Neil DeGrasse Tyson are. But then again, you might know, and you'd "reason" that Dawkins is a biologist and Tyson is an Astrophysicist to avoid the "scientist" label in your argument. Your argument is actually quite invalid in that it makes empty comparisons. Science explains the unknowns that thousands of years ago resulted in the creation of myths. The number of unknowns has dwindled significantly, resulting in the dismissal of these beliefs as myths. That is the answer. That is reasoning. It is a far more complete picture than expressing belief because of an unknown, therefore something imaginary must have done it.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • IkeNewton

      Meatpaste, apparently YOU don't know who Richard Dawkins is. According to the British publication DailyMail on Feb. 24 2012, "Professor Richard Dawkins today dismissed his hard-earned reputation as a militant atheist – admitting that he is actually agnostic as he can't prove God doesn't exist. The country's foremost champion of the Darwinist evolution, who wrote The God Delusion, stunned audience members when he made the confession during a lively debate on the origins of the universe with the Archbishop of Canterbury." Carl Sagan was also honest enough to admit that Atheism is a faith, not science. Keep clinging to your imaginary Big Nothing (author and designer of the Universe in the Atheist creation myth), I'm sure you get great comfort in thinking of yourself as nothing but a collection of mindless chemical reactions ("Meatpaste").

      April 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Science

      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says
      By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-hawking-says/

      April 8, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Not all religious organizations threaten to torch people for eternity though certainly a subset of Christian and Islamic ones do. I'm not religious, btw, just don't like to see an unfair generalization.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Ike, do you ever read anything in context or do you prefer to simply take a statement for granted and then attempt to destroy it without first knowing what it is you set out to destroy? My answer was in reference to this, specifically:

      "establishes his conclusion ("God doesn't exist"), and "reasons" toward that conclusion. Thankfully, scientists don't do this. "

      Furthermore, your statement is incorrect. Dawkins is an atheist. The context of the article you are referencing is merely a means of twisting labels. He does not believe in a deity, therefore he is an atheist. He admits he cannot prove the non-existence of a imaginary being, therefore the position of not being able to prove this places everyone in the agnostic bucket, including himself, including Hitchens, etc. No one can disprove it. The point of calling himself an agnostic is to avoid the constant stupidity of focusing on the label as believers often do and instead focus on reality. Here's the article:

      http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100139447/richard-dawkins-is-an-agnostic-but-we-knew-that-already/

      He's still recognized as an atheist. I apologize for bursting your bubble. Hearts and farts.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      More info for the cherry-picking "Ike Newton." Might want to change that name to something more fitting.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/why-richard-dawkins-is-still-an-atheist/2012/02/29/gIQATWjKiR_blog.html

      April 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      As a Christian who is diagnosed with magnic-depression disorder I found out first-hand why most xtians think mental health is a spiritual problem.
      However I also learnt some great things along the way.
      The drugs will not make you feel normal. It was spirituality that made me able to do things that other people take for granted like sleeping when you are tired and looking after your money well.
      The reason is that physical, mental and spiritual health go together. poor mental health can impact on spiritual health and vice versa.
      Ever since I started meditating on charitable love I feel there is more to my life than living for another day. Selfishness is a luxury I can't aufford b'cos it makes me hyper then depressed no matter the amount of drugs I take but I am calm and stable when I am selfless.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @formerly Nii

      I think you're lying.

      April 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Atheist, me?

      Why?

      April 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @formerly Nii

      Because if we were to believe all your claims here, then you would have a degree in astronomy, chemistry, and statistics, as well as being an atheist in the past while being a Christian. Now we add in manic depressive that is apparently contingent on you being selfish, which doesn't even make sense with that particular mental disorder. You are not reliable, and you are not convincing.

      April 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  8. brian

    "Evangelical" religion causes a lot of mental illness.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Agreed. The term "christian counseling" is an oxymoron. Anyone who believes that a dead man came to life again, or that some sky fairy is watching and guiding our lives, is mentally ill.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • I believe Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit

      I feel fine mentally.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • willremainundefined

      Yes. Causes it. Further stigmatizes those with it. Ostracizes anyone not as "righteous and sanctified" as they are. And then they do this little momentary showing out when a famous preacher's son tragically loses his battle with mental illness. If you live with a mental illness don't waste your time going to a church seeking solace. They don't believe in mental illness and have no honest truth driven desire to show any tangible forms of support for something they ultimately believe is rooted in selfishness, sin, and pride.

      April 9, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  9. extremepants

    Don't create biases off of what you hear and read in the news. Don't assume all Christians are hateful because you saw Westboro Baptist members do some picketing. Get all the facts. Don't tell everyone else they're ignorant when you fail to see you're on ignorance. Be open, you believe in equality for everyone don't you? Then why should Christians be brushed aside and told they're delusional and terrible human beings? Before putting your fingers to the keyboard to express how "terrible" Christians actually are, go meet a Christian, make friends with one, have just a normal conversation with them, you'll realize that media changes your perception more than you think.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • ME II

      Not always easy when there are examples like {!} below.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Talk to one? What if most of us used to be one and know first-hand what it's all about? No, they aren't all terrible. The term delusional is accurate on the other hand. The context in how it is administered is what one needs to be wary of. There is the insulting and condescending manner in which it is used. There is also the matter-of-fact blanket context which merely addresses the fact that blind belief in something that does not exist is not realistic or advantageous to progression.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  10. MEATPASTE

    When lost in the frozen tundras in Wisconsin, I find it's best to always keep a bible handy. And a lighter. You know, to keep warm.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • iron stone

      The Tundra has hauled out a few stonies...............................from Wisconsin (iron meteorites)

      Had fun too !

      Go to hardware store.................. buy shovel in town the owners say hope you find one..............not the bible by the way.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      That actually sounds like a good time. But it's an awfully long drive (or walk) to Wisconsin from here.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • iron stone

      MEATPASTE

      When lost in the frozen tundras in Wisconsin......................where are you lost, it might not be that long of a walk or drive.

      To find the stonies.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • pothead

      Good for rolling papers

      April 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  11. Bible Clown©

    One of the main symptoms of mental illness is talking to God and getting orders about what other people should do. So how is a church going to help? That's how they begin. Someone hears voices, and soon a storefront church has been rented.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Wendy

      Right on, Bible Clown.

      Any nutjob can start a religion. Look at all the wacky religions that exist now, with stories of talking snakes and virgin birth and all. Don't eat those shellfish...

      April 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  12. { ! }

    This page provides good data for a psychology dissertation. We are surrounded by the results of human fully from global warming to nuclear terror; most of it with no tie to religion at all. Yet the atheist crowd throngs here to obsess over the misuses of religion. It's a good thing for these people that religion exists. Otherwise, they'd have to face and admit what humanity is capable of when left to his own devices. We should allow them to remain dillusional for their own safety.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Yet the atheist crowd throngs here to obsess over the misuses of religion."

      Did I miss the part where this article was about global warming and nuclear terror? Oh, looks as if you brought those yourself. The rest of us are talking about the connection between mental illness and religion, and you just became Exhibit A. Thanks.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • MEATPASTE

      Left to my own devices when I left the cult, I somehow managed to stay out of prison by doing what I always did. The misconception is that religion saves humanity from having a go at insanity and mass chaos when in fact this is not the case. Stranegly, as an atheist I have become more forgiving and more tolerant. And I've learned quite a bit more than I would have if I'd stayed in the church. Thankfully, I left and I feel free. The best part is no longer feeling trapped under the watchful eye of the angry sky-princess.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • lol??

      pastie, cnn's religion blogs do have a strange attraction for psychopathic sociopaths. they clump here like flies on flypaper.

      April 9, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      lol
      Psychopath is synonymous with sociopath. Nice redundancy in your poor attempt to insult people.

      There is nothing to indicate that someone who is an atheist is automatically sociopathic.

      Poor attempt at an insult.

      April 9, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      lol
      Psychopath is synonymous with sociopath. Nice redundancy in your poor attempt to insult people.

      There is nothing to indicate that someone who is an atheist is automatically sociopathic.

      Poor attempt at an insult.

      April 9, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  13. Gerry

    The causes of chronic mental illness (or brain diseases) are still not fully understood, but we do know that the earliest possible diagnosis and beginning of treatment brings the most positive results with the greatest economic impact. Recovery from mental illness is possible (that means living the highest quality of life possible), and the earlier treatment begins, the less likely persons living with mental illness will experience violence – to themselves or others. Stetzer's column is exactly on target in terms of how religious communities can play a positive role in supporting these persons. Check the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org for comprehensive information on mental illness in our society.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  14. Answer

    Look at the modern adoption of the phrase "mental illness" by these churches. Take a long hard look at how their old labels of "witchcraft, and demon possessions" have been burned away by progress.

    Modern life comes crashing like a bulldozer through their schemes and depravity. Stripping away at their dark age hollow core.

    Why do they bother, at all, to change if they've had it 'correct' in the first place? The answer is telling. It's because they were never convincing, in the first place, that they were correct.

    Get over the fraud of religion. You're seeing their refusals to be corrected. Too bad.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      " their old labels of "witchcraft, and demon possessions" have been burned away by progress." There is a woman several pages back claiming her children are possessed by demons, She was about the fifth person I saw claiming demonic possession is real. in the Bible, and the ONLY source of "madness" and "retards." And "progress" is a dirty word to them.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  15. Matthew

    Church helped me get over a depression problem at one time where modern science failed. All modern psychiatry did was make me sound like I have a problem. I went other places and found out how to get over that problem and move on. Actually one of the best advices out there was the "toughen up" advice.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • JWT

      Glad it worked out for you. It is not the best of advice for everyone.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Toughen up" doesn't help clinical depression, You were probably just being a drama queen.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      I was gonna say...sometimes telling a mentally ill person to toughen up results in suicide.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Hilda Goins

      Tom, you really need to toughen up.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      But seriously, sometimes someone does need to tell you not to be so hard on yourself and not to take things personally. Someone who actually knows you, unlike us internet clowns, ya know? A church full of your friends is good for reality checks. Glad it wasn't depression, which is often a chemical imbalance.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Toughen up" is often used as a kick in the pants to get out in the world, and getting out and interacting with people is known to help most depressions. So no, "toughening" in itself may not be a key for everyone, but it can be a term used to cover other behaviors such as learning to shift focus or replace victim self-image with other views. For some people these acts work, for others they don't work at all.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Hilda, naughty, naughty. Good Christian are you?

      April 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      There is some thought that "getting out and interacting with others" is the last thing a depressed person "needs" to do. Sometimes what he/she needs is time to heal and rest, not be pushed into action when energy and mood are low.

      Telling someone who is clinically depressed to "smile and get out more, you'll feel better" or "stop feeling sorry for yourself and make an effort" is as idiotic as telling someone who's lost a loved one that it's time to move on and get over grief.

      Really, if you're not the doctor treating the person, then you shouldn't be making recommendations about what is best for anyone.

      April 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  16. Chaos

    An organization based on an invisible being that takes requests by mind messages is going to help with mental illness?

    April 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • lolwut

      This comment is fresh and original!

      April 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Yep, no such thing as voices in your head, right Reverend?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  17. Hilda Goins

    Your caption should read: "Churches Could Help Mentally Ill–if only they wanted to"! I am speaking for my past years of experience in the church. There are a lot of things churches could do; they just aren't putting those things above pretty churches, money, fame, and the like. Things have changed a lot!

    April 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    If one is willing to abandon critical thought in order to be able to accept a proposition on faith, that is the first step towards opening oneself up to any number of delusions.
    It is truly frightenening the number of atrocities that have been committed by those under the impression that their religious faith has paid off via direct communication with God.
    And since nobody has a Divine Decoder capable of intercepting and unscrambling psychic, celestial messages – who are we to say if their chats with God are any more or less credible than Moses' talk with the flaming foliage?

    In 2008, He told Boyce Singleton Jr. to shoot and stab his pregnant girlfriend.
    Deanna Laney heard God direct her to bludgeon her three sons, aged 9, 6 and 15 months. Only the youngest survived.
    Blair Donnelly received instructions to stab to death his 16 year old daughter, Stephanie.
    Christopher Varian was slaughtered with a cheese knife after God spoke with one of his employees.
    God told Jennifer Cisowski to dash her infant's head on the rocks, so ""Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones by the pool."
    Khandi Busby got a direct message from God advising her that the only way to save her 6 and 8 year old boys was to toss them off a bridge in Dallas. Fortunately, they survived.
    Angel Rico says he received a divine command to strangle his 4 year old son, so he did just that and left him at the side of the highway.
    Lashaun Harris threw her 3 young kids into the San Francisco Bay after God let her know that He wanted a human sacrifice.

    There seems to be a rather fine line between prophet and madman.
    One gets a halo, the other a huggy jacket.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      They should have founded denominations. When you have a revelation, you are a prophet and possibly a saint.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • lol??

      mobs can't have critical thought.

      ho's, either.

      April 9, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  19. Snarky

    Yes, send them to church. Maybe they can pray until they get better, like what the church does to gay people. Maybe they're just not praying hard enough..

    April 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Ted Haggard managed to pray away his gay AND his meth habit!
      6 weeks in a straight camp and his craving for The D was cured! Praise Jesus!
      Praise be unto Jesus – of the long, luxurious hair and strong, calloused workman's hands that move the lathe slowly and rhythmically over long planks of wood, muscles rippling as sweat drips down his sinewy chest, breathing getting ever hea.....

      'Scuse me. I've got to go to the bathroom and read some scripture.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Wendy

      Funny, Doc. Ah yes the purpose for that otherwise wasted paper of the bible.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  20. Imagine No Religion

    Churches ARE the mentally ill.

    -–
    "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
    Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

    April 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.