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PTSD patients with weak faith should visit doctor, televangelist tells Fort Jackson

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland is scheduled to speak Thursday at Fort Jackson’s Prayer Breakfast.
Televangelist Kenneth Copeland is scheduled to speak Thursday at Fort Jackson’s Prayer Breakfast. tglantz@thestate.com

Televangelist Kenneth Copeland has clarified his stance on post traumatic stress disorder in a statement issued through Fort Jackson.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based Copeland is scheduled to be the featured speaker at a prayer breakfast at the nation’s largest basic training installation Feb. 1. The appearance has been protested by both a national military freedom of religion group and a progressive organization of military voters.

They say Copeland’s comments in his broadcasts and sermons “trivialize” PTSD by urging patients to seek spiritual rather than physical or psychological treatment.

The State newspaper repeatedly reached out to the ministry during the past six days for comment, without success. Fort Jackson on Wednesday, citing “a crucial element missing from almost all of the coverage,” issued a statement from the ministry.

“From our perspective, a Christian should ask the Lord what steps of recovery should be taken to receive natural help for the disorder. Many Christian organizations exist to give Bible-based help to those that suffer from PTSD.

“Our first priority as Christians should always be to find scriptures that offer hope for healing and deliverance from the maladies that we are confronted with. Prayer, application of God’s Word, and ministry from professionals will bring the lasting help that those suffering need.

“Brother Copeland would be the first to tell you the doctor is your best friend if you are sick and your healing has not yet fully shown up. It takes time for your faith to develop. For that reason, it is perfectly all right to pursue medical attention as well. In fact, to refuse to consult a doctor or, perhaps, stop taking medication (prescription or over-the-counter) before faith is fully developed for healing is potentially dangerous. That would be considered ‘presumptuous’ faith.

“God is not competing with doctors or medicine. Like any loving father, He will use any avenue available that you allow Him to work through to help you get well. Getting you well is His desire. Any good doctor will tell you he does not do the healing. He only assists your body to work the way it was created and designed to function by God.”

Both VoteVets.org, a left-leaning organization that purports to have 500,000 members, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which claims to represent 56 soldiers at the fort, including 45 Protestant or Catholic soldiers, have protested the visit.

VoteVets has started an online petition opposing the visit. The MRFF wrote a letter to fort commander Maj. Gen. John P. “Pete” Johnson asking that he rescind the invitation.

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the MRFF, said that Fort Jackson officials issuing the statement in Copeland’s name was “shamefully shilling for him as though they are his press agents.”

Last week, the fort issued a statement saying that military prayer breakfasts and luncheons have been held since the 1950s and have hosted “religious leaders from many faith traditions and denominations, cultural leaders, and foreign heads of state.”

The breakfast is open to all community members and is “entirely voluntarily, and is cost free to the Army and attendees,” the statement said.

Copeland’s complete statement

“We believe that PTSD is an all too common result of the tragic and horrific events witnessed by our military in combat that cause feelings of hopelessness and despair. Many of those suffering from PTSD receive psychological and psychiatric help for it every day.

From our perspective, a Christian should ask the Lord what steps of recovery should be taken to receive natural help for the disorder. Many Christian organizations exist to give Bible-based help to those that suffer from PTSD.

Our first priority as Christians should always be to find scriptures that offer hope for healing and deliverance from the maladies that we are confronted with. Prayer, application of God’s Word, and ministry from professionals will bring the lasting help that those suffering need.

“Brother Copeland would be the first to tell you the doctor is your best friend if you are sick and your healing has not yet fully shown up. It takes time for your faith to develop. For that reason, it is perfectly all right to pursue medical attention as well. In fact, to refuse to consult a doctor or perhaps stop taking medication (prescription or over-the-counter) before faith is fully developed for healing is potentially dangerous. That would be considered ‘presumptuous’ faith.

“God is not competing with doctors or medicine. Like any loving father, He will use any avenue available that you allow Him to work through to help you get well. Getting you well is His desire. Any good doctor will tell you he does not do the healing. He only assists your body to work the way it was created and designed to function by God.

Let me be very clear, Brother Copeland is certainly not against doctors or medicine, and we thank God for the gifts and abilities He has placed in the medical profession.”

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