Religion has members who are qualified to give psychological support.  Religion has clergy who often take on that role without having any right to.  This must stop.

Leave counselling to the professionals.  There are safeguards that must be in place.

The therapists cannot influence the person towards their own personal religious beliefs.  This will prove impossible for one who holds that Jesus was right to say everybody needs God and faith is a treasure.

If priests and pastors are going to offer psychological support they must do it in a secular and scientific fashion and have secular qualifications.

Yet some object to that!
One objection is that religion is better for people than anything else. This notion insinuates that it is only religious therapists that are the real professionals.

Studies seem to indicate that religious people are happier than the non-religious. That might be down to the fact that religious people tend to form supportive communities. Religious people being happier does not mean that religion as such makes them happier. It is the community spirit that does that.
The studies are based on very subjective information.
They do not ask the religious or non-religious person to rate her or his happiness on a scale of 1 to 10.
It could be that a minority of religious people suffer so much because of their faith, say the terror of everlasting Hell, that it outweighs the happiness. The fear of Hell or the sense of Catholic guilt can draw a person into a depression.
Taken as a whole, the unbelievers could be happier.
Many of the people who are unbelievers do not enjoy their unbelief because they have not learned enough about self-help and because their unbelief is riddled with doubt. They may simply take it for granted that there is no God but the fear of being wrong will be with them when they are conscious of not having thought it through properly.
Some Christian therapists have people feeling better by reading the "nice" parts of the Bible. But they are left worse off when they realise how vicious the nasty parts are. Religion tends to despise modern knowledge and cherry-pick from it. That is an approach that is not going to help a long-term solution.
Jesus himself advocated a simplistic answer for the problem of human suffering. And many Christians do the same. They want to feel they are good people and they don't care if they are really good or not. Thus they insult the victim of sick child abuse
They can blame the devil or your inclination to sin for how you are unable to forgive your father who viciously raped you decades ago. They think you should be over it now. The believer has to face that question. The atheist does not. Which philosophy then is capable of genuine respect for others?
The therapist is essentially trying to help people help themselves believe and feel the followin

Only I can change the world I have created.

There is no danger in change.

To get what I really want, I must change.

I have the power to change.

There is no mention of God in it. God is therefore a hindrance.
There is a danger when you help people with depression or get them to help themselves.

Many people who suffer so badly that they have no willingness to even end their lives seem to feel that even death will not end the pain. If they were desperate to get rid of the pain they would kill themselves. They see no point in death or killing yourself.
Many of them who get help from medication or anything else can start to see a little that there seems to be a point. That is why the suicide rate is startling for people who are taking the first steps to recovery. They get the inner strength to act and they act by killing themselves. Faith in God can contribute to that. And as the clergy inspire faith in God they are to blame for the risk. If God is nonsense or does not care, this risk is wholly deplorable and inexcusable.
The atheist Sam Harris warns in his book Waking Up that the practices he recommends for improving inner peace could be inappropriate for many schizophrenics. For example, he recommends long silent retreats and that could be bad for a schizophrenia sufferer. But he is to be admired for at least recognising the danger of many spiritual and "spiritual" practices.
No religious or occult practitioner cares enough to even think about the damage they can do. They do not even care about the destruction they leave in their wake and continue to put people in danger.
Priests and ministers must not be given an automatic right to deal with troubled people. What if they say the wrong thing? What if the religion is creating the problem it tries to help? Catholicism terrorises its victims about sin and offers them relief in the confessional. That is manipulation not helping. Priests and clergy need to be made answerable to the law if they hurt the vulnerable people who come to them.

WE DON'T DO GOD, THE MARGINALIZATION OF PUBLIC FAITH, George Carey, Andrew Carey, Monarch, Oxford, 2012


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