Kenneth Copeland Issues Confusing New Statement About PTSD

Yesterday afternoon, The State (SC) newspaper ran a story with this headline:

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

The televangelist in the title is Kenneth Copeland who, at the last minute before his controversial scheduled speech to troops at Fort Jackson, Columbia, SC, issued a new confusing statement about post-traumatic stress disorder.  The full statement is provided at that article; I think the title of the news article is accurate.
You’ll recall that Kenneth Copeland, along with self-styled historian David Barton, told soldiers suffering with PTSD to get rid of PTSD by reading Bible verses and rebuking Satan. That advice brought condemnations from a variety of Christian and other groups, including those who advocate for veterans.
In his new statement, Copeland denigrates the faith of people who seek medical help while appearing to give his blessing to treatment.  He says:

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.

This is double talk. On his broadcast in 2013, he told PTSD sufferers

Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it. It doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there will get rid of it.

In this command, Copeland addressed anyone suffering from PTSD. Now he wants people to think he qualifies his advice. He didn’t apologize or say he was wrong before. He simply pretended he didn’t say it. The answer is still the same. Develop your faith, get rid of that. You don’t need drugs or psychology when you have faith. Copeland’s new statement continues:

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.

This new moderate sounding Copeland emerged the day before his scheduled visit to Fort Jackson. However, he doesn’t explain what changed in his beliefs, if anything. He doesn’t say he was wrong before nor does he express any regret for his previous bad advice.
As far as I can determine, Copeland’s appearance went as scheduled today.

Military to Hear From Kenneth Copeland Who Teaches PTSD Can Be Cured by Bible Verses and Rebuking Satan

A military religious freedom watchdog group is asking Commanding General Major General Pete Johnson to uninvite Kenneth Copeland from theKenneth Copeland Jet February 1 prayer breakfast at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Kenneth Copeland has a rather checkered history but the main reason for the outrage is Kenneth Copeland’s past teaching on how to address post-traumatic stress disorder. On that topic, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation Mikey Weinstein told the General:

But there’s something else that makes Copeland an even more outrageous choice to speak to any military audience. He has claimed that PTSD isn’t real because it isn’t biblical, saying on a 2013 Veterans Day episode of his TV show:
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, and it doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there [referring to a Bible verse he had just read] will get rid of it.”
Copeland’s guest that day, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton, wholeheartedly agreed, adding that warriors in the Bible fighting in the name of God were “esteemed” and in the “faith hall of fame” because they “took so many people out in battle.”

At the time, Barton and Copeland took a lot of heat over that “advice.” Before I go on, here is the segment:

Gospel Destroying and Demonic Advice

The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter called this advice “gospel destroying” and “demonic.” Copeland still has aspects of this advice on his website (source and source). I did a short series on PTSD which highlighted damaging aspects of Copeland’s and Barton’s advice. In short, their advice was insulting to PTSD sufferers. The military should warn their people about Copeland, not invite him to lecture them.

Copeland Disqualified Himself

I hope the General decides to find another speaker. In my opinion, Copeland disqualified himself to speak to our service men and women. In addition to his bogus advice about PTSD, he teaches that people who recite certain Bible verses will survive war. In essence, his teaching is that Christians will survive if they do the right things and recite the right magic Bible verses (Psalm 91 is one he suggests). In his PTSD video, he claims that the Bible gives a promise of survival to soldiers who fight for God. I don’t know what happens to people who don’t believe these things according to Copeland.
I can’t imagine what he will say that will be of general benefit or encouragement to people of all faiths. His teaching in his Veteran’s Day video and on his website requires a rather close adherence to his specific interpretation of the Bible. There are many Christians who reject this approach, not to mention those of other faiths and no faith. Surely, General Johnson can find someone who can bring people together and respect troops of all faith traditions.
Here is the announcement in the Fort Jackson newsletter:

National Prayer Breakfast to take place Feb. 1 at NCO Club sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast for the Fort Jackson Community 7:30-9 a.m. Feb. 1 at the NCO Club. Nationally recognized televangelist Kenneth Copeland will be the speaker. Tickets are available from your unit. The event is free, but offerings will be accepted at the event. Attire will be duty uniform or civilian equivalent. The purpose of the NPB is to emphasize the importance of prayer for the Nation, Fort Jackson, our armed forces, and our Families. The themes for the breakfast are: prayers for the nation, community relationship and spiritual fitness.

 
This tip came from fellow Patheos blogger Hemant Mehta (who got it from Chris Rodda).

David Barton Inflates Numbers for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women

Yesterday, David Barton’s Wallbuilders radio program hosted Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians. Barton and his co-host Rick Green once mistakenly called ACP the “leading association” of pediatricians.
Cretella was on the program to tout the ACP’s stance on transgender issues; I may have more to say about her interview in subsequent posts. However, after the interview, Barton made a claim which he offered as a way to say women should not be in combat. At about 23 minutes into the broadcast, Barton said:

Do you want to go where stats lead you? And she [Cretella] mentioned, what did she say the suicide rates were like 20 times higher in the kids who were being pushed in the transgender direction. And that reminded me of something that a two star General told me not long ago. And he said, when you look at what’s happening right now with women in the military. Women are not allowed in combat, you know they made that decision to change that recently but they’re not in combat units yet. But over the last several years of women’s roles in Afghanistan where they are not allowed in combat, of the women who are back, 90% are suffering from PTSD, only 10% of guys coming back suffering from PTSD. So we got 90% PTSD in women coming back and they’re not in combat. I know! Let’s put them in combat.

After citing a misleading stat from Cretella, he gives his audience one of his own.
I think it is possible that a two-star General who opposes women in combat did tell Barton this. However, now Barton is spreading undocumented and most likely false information to his audience. Some research does find that women experience more frequently than men do, the difference isn’t as great as Barton’s General told him. Here are two VA sources on the matter:

How many women Veterans have PTSD?

Among women Veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, almost 20 of every 100 (or 20%) have been diagnosed with PTSD. We also know the rates of PTSD in women Vietnam Veterans. An important study found that about 27 of every 100 female Vietnam Veterans (or 27%) suffered from PTSD sometime during their postwar lives. To compare, in men who served in Vietnam, about 31 of every 100 (or 31%) developed PTSD in their lifetime. (link)

Twenty percent is a tragedy but it is a long way from 90%.
According to a recent VA source, the rates of PTSD are about the same for military men and women seeking care from the VA.

“In the general population, women are twice as likely as men to develop posttraumatic stress disorder,” noted Dr. Sonja Batten, VA’s Deputy Chief Consultant for Specialty Mental Health. “But among recent returnees seeking care at VA, PTSD rates among men and women are the same. Statistics such as these suggest the need to better understand the role of gender in PTSD, particularly as it may impact our Veterans seeking care.”

On PTSD, Barton hasn’t had a good track record.
It might not be today, but I intend to get back to the claim that the transgender teen suicide rate is 20 times higher than some other teens.

David Barton Responds To Controversy Over PTSD Claims

On his Wallbuilders Facebook page, David Barton released a statement today regarding the furor over the program with Kenneth Copeland on Veteran’s Day. Here is the statement in full:

David Barton and WallBuilders have a long unwavering and proven record of unequivocal support for those in the Armed Forces, including their families, as well as military personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD. David not only has several children and family members serving in the military but we also regularly highlight numerous military heroes on our daily radio program and send out blasts in support of the military. Additionally, we actively raise money for groups who work to help heal our warriors, including those suffering from PTSD. Yet despite this unflagging support, Right Wing Watch, Huffington Post, and others from the liberal secularist left recently circulated a short clip, taken out of context from a long interview David did on a Veteran’s Day program stressing the importance of spiritual components in the treatment of PTSD. As a result of the inaccurate “reporting” of these so-called “news” outlets, many who saw those reports voiced concern to us over what they had been wrongly told. It is lamentable that while we support multiple approaches for PTSD treatments, the critics are so hostile to religion that they flatly dismiss possible spiritual solutions. Rest assured that we will continue our demonstrated record of support for using all available resources to assist those suffering from PTSD. And we will continue to work closely, as we have been, with top military and medical officials who on a daily basis treat these men and women who make so many sacrifices to preserve and protect the freedoms for the rest of us.
We encourage you to watch the full program for yourself to see the entire context (link provided below)!
http://www.kcm.org/media/webcast/kenneth-copeland-and-david-barto/131111-an-awakening-to-god-in-america

So now the Southern Baptist Convention and Gospel Coalition are part of the “liberal secularist left” and “hostile to religion?” As has been a pattern, Mr. Barton does not regret what he said nor distance himself from Mr. Copeland, he blames the people who listened to the broadcast and reported exactly what the two men said.
 
 

Note To David Barton And Kenneth Copeland: PTSD Is Real

Kenneth Copeland’s and David Barton’s teaching on post-traumatic stress disorder struck a raw nerve.
On Veteran’s Day, Copeland and Barton claimed that the Old Testament book of Numbers 32 is a promise that soldiers who fight for God are promised that they will return from battle and can get rid of PTSD if they cast out demonic influences. Reaction was swift and negative. Predictably, left leaning groups castigated the two. However, equally strong was the reaction from evangelical and conservative circles. These groups have good reason to react negatively, the advice given by Barton and Copeland was dangerously misinformed.
I rarely treat PTSD these days. However, when I owned a group practice in Southern Ohio, I had a contract with the Veteran’s Administration to treat Vietnam Vets with PTSD. Before he died, my uncle struggled with his experiences in WWII, often using alcohol to quiet the raging memories inside. The intrusive thoughts and sense of dread are quite real to the person who suffers. Advances in brain imaging have begun to reveal some answers to why some people experience symptoms after trauma and others do not. And Numbers 32 has no role in the differences.
A recent VA study found that the parts of the brain which encode incoming information remain active in PTSD patients whereas non-sufferers show more neural flexibility. Study co-author Lisa James said, “The deficit that we see in PTSD is the absence of that ability to modulate.”
Acting along with pre-existing vulnerability, trauma seems to actually erode the resilience and mood regulating functions of the brain. A 2011 NIMH funded study found fewer neurons responsible for passing chemical messages through the brain in victims of trauma than in brains of controls participants. The brain scans below depicts the difference:

Patients with PTSD (right) had significantly fewer serotonin 1B receptors (yellow & red areas) in their brain stress circuits than healthy controls (left). PET scan images show destinations of a radioactive tracer that binds to serotonin 1B receptors. Front of brain is at bottom. Source: Alexander Neumeister, M.D., Mount Sinai School of Medicine

A quick review of the other NIMH work and many other studies showing real changes as the result of trauma demonstrate the harmful nature of the advice given by Copeland and Barton.  One cannot just “get rid of it” as Copeland counseled.
Copeland and Barton should immediately offer an apology and point people to the VA and/or other credible medical and psychological professionals.
 

David Barton And Kenneth Copeland: PTSD Can Be Cured By Bible Verses And Rebuking Satan

Last night, Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Religion News Service reported on statements made (video here) by David Barton and Kenneth Copeland about post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers. I am cited in the article as is Joe Carter from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.  More about those comments shortly.
On Monday — Veteran’s Day — Barton and Copeland discussed what they believe the Bible has to say about service in the military.  At about 3:10 into the clip, Copeland expresses his thanks for those in the military and says he often ministers to them. Barton then says that being a soldier is a God-given gift. Copeland extends those remarks by saying that God told him to believe in war. At about 6 minutes in, Copeland says, “for over 200 years, we’ve (referring to the United States) been the judgment arm of God.” Copeland says the U.S. should get credit for stopping slavery in the world. He added that we are supposed to be acting as the judgment arm now, but we are not carrying it out. They take a side track into a discussion of “anointed police officers” but eventually get to the material on PTSD. This background is important because it demonstrates the belief of Barton and Copeland that soldiers act in God’s name.
At 9:44, Copeland claims that Numbers 32:20-22 (KJV) should be considered a “soldier’s promise.” He implies that the good soldier will come back from battle and be “guiltless before the Lord and before the nation.” Copeland, with Barton agreeing, then says (at 10:41):

Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it. It doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there will get rid of it.

Copeland then exhorts PTSD sufferers to rebuke intrusive thoughts and other symptoms by attributing them to Satan. At 11:32, Copeland says, again with Barton agreeing:

In the name of Jesus, take your hands off my mind Satan! In Jesus name, Satan, you take your hands off of God’s property right now. You come out and come down, you stop it!

Before they go on to another set of verses, Barton interrupts, affirms Copeland’s words, and adds that many of the heroes of Hebrews 11 (Hall of Faith) were warriors. He adds that warriors who fight in a just war should be esteemed.
There is so much wrong in this broadcast, it is hard to know where to start and when to end. First, the verses are not general promises to those who fight in a just war. If Copeland would have read the entire chapter of Numbers 32, it would have been clear that these directives were issued to the tribes of Reuben and Gad. Verse 23 reads: “But if you (adult males of the tribes of Reuben and Gad) will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.” God gave a warning to the tribes of Reuben and Gad because of their initial unwillingness to fight with the rest of the tribes for the purpose of taking the Promised Land across the Jordan.
Furthermore, the word “guiltless” as translated in the KJV is misleading. In the NIV, verse 22 reads: “then after that you shall return and be free of obligation to the LORD and to Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the LORD.” The KJV’s guiltless is better translated, “free from obligation.” In other words, God wouldn’t hold Reuben’s and Gad’s initial resistance against them if they agreed to go fight with the other tribes to take the land. However, if they didn’t fight, they would have been in obligation to God and their brethren. The word guiltless does not mean what Barton and Copeland apparently think it means.
Such constructions really annoy Southern Baptist ERLC communications director, Joe Carter. Carter told the Religious New Service:

This isn’t the first time Copeland and Barton have been “profoundly ignorant about theology and history,” said Joe Carter, an editor and communications director for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“But for them to denigrate the suffering of men and women traumatized by war — and to claim Biblical support for their callow and doltish views — is both shocking and unconscionable,” Carter said. “Rather than downplaying the pain of PTSD, they should be asking God to heal our brothers and sisters.”

As an aside, Carter’s reaction deserves a post of its own.
Back to the topic, even though I suspect that Copeland and Barton believe they are being helpful, I have to agree with Carter.  Barton’s and Copeland’s view of PTSD is dangerously naive.  A good quick resource on PTSD can be found on the NIH website.
Barton and Copeland should read it.
………..
When I watched Copeland’s exhortation to “stop it!” I immediately thought of this skit, where the therapist is about as helpful as Barton and Copeland.