While the NHS clamps down on Christian prayer, it spends £205,000 on ‘voodoo’
His Grace does not, of course, reject the insights of psychology: he is more than content to consider and embrace them as they accord with theological principles and help to explain the frailty of human creation. But he repudiates the wholehearted acceptance of psychotherapeutic ideas which irrationally exclude that which is specifically Christian. As this blog has focused over the years on state-sector employees who have been disciplined, suspended or dismissed for offering to pray for the sick or even for merely mentioning the name of Jesus, it has become evident that our culture is returning to its pagan roots and rolling back three centuries of religious liberty. A shrine of flowers and teddies brings comfort and hope; the Bible and prayer in the name of Jesus bring hurt and despair. So the state moves to outlaw that which divides, for it is ultimately ‘hateful’ or the foundation for ‘extremism’.
His Grace writes this as he ponders a story in The Mail on Sunday, which informs us that £205,000 of public money is being spent by the NHS to examine ‘spiritual healing’ or ‘voodoo’, as Simon Singh calls it. It would be wrong to dismiss this out of hand: research is valuable, and there is no means by which the efficacy of a treatment may be verified other than by scientific trial. But this ‘healing energy’ is a rather nebulous force. And there are those who will say it is a rather bizarre waste of money at a time of government cuts and universal spending restraint. Of course, this is lottery money, so not quite extracted forcibly from the British taxpayers. But there is one sentence which irks:
“The healing appeared to be based on the Buddhist spiritual practice of Reiki, which is ironic when Christian doctors and nurses are warned about praying for their patients.”Is it more acceptable because the research is led by turban-clad gastroenterologist Sukhdev Singh? Is it because Buddhism is unifying, inoffensive and vogue? Is it because the treatment is said to induce ‘tingling, heat (or) coolness’ and so satisfies a yearning for some kind of attention-seeking ‘God loves me’ religious experience?
Why is £205,000 able to be spent on researching ‘energy flow imbalances’ while doctors and nurses may not even offer prayer to their patients?
His Grace agrees that: ‘Healing energy is all around us. In essence it is universal – part of nature itself.’ But if there is growing evidence that ‘spiritual healing’ can be effective, why aren’t we dedicating £205,000 to a research project into the efficacy of prayer and scriptural direction? And when it is established (as it surely would be) that living a life of prayer and meditation in sacrificial obedience to the Creator brings mental and physical benefit as well as spiritual enlightenment, perhaps the state would stop persecuting those doctors and nurses who have always known so.