NEWS: Summary

What happens when a doctor finds that the one method he sees for saving a patient’s life conflicts with the patient’s faith? How can medicine and religion help each other in such problem areas?

Early this spring a dozen men, meeting in Salisbury, Maryland, began cautiously exploring these questions. The venture was noteworthy, for those taking part were medical doctors, national officials of the American Medical Association, and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religious group that opposes blood transfusions and that has an active contingent in Salisbury.

Although the statement issued afterward was long on such phrases as greater “understanding” and short on details, the confrontation itself was termed unprecedented, and it will probably be followed by more meetings. The Witnesses informally invited two of the men to their New York headquarters for further talks.

The two men were the Rev. Paul B. McCleave and Arne E. Larson, the director and assistant director of the Department of Medicine and Religion of the American Medical Association, and the meeting was only one of a number of results of the department’s formation in 1961.

The aim of the department is to “create the proper climate for communication between the physician and the clergyman that will lead to the most effective care and treatment of the patient,” says a department brochure.

After getting advice from the leaders of fifteen major religious bodies and leading physicians, the department went straight to the local level, conducting, through county medical societies, pilot programs in twenty-seven counties. The idea has caught on to such a degree that 637 county society programs have been carried out, and forty-nine states have approved a program of medicine and religion. The Maryland Stale Medical Journal devoted most of its March issue to medicine and religion, carrying articles entitled “What the Clergyman Expects from the Doctor” and “What the Doctor Expects of the Pastor.”

The Department of Medicine and Religion is also beaming its message at hospital chaplains, young seminarians, and medical students. So far three state medical schools (in Kansas, Indiana, and South Dakota) have introduced programs on medicine and religion. Kansas University Medical Center offers a ten-hour course on the subject, and the University of Colorado is to begin a post-graduate course for physicians and clergymen.

The AMA’s venture in dispelling distrust on both sides and establishing rapport is one of a number of efforts stressing the care of the “whole man” that have grown up in the United States in recent years.

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Under this heading come the Academy of Religion and Mental Health, the Committee on Religion and Psychiatry of the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. The last group has not yet solved the problem of general standards and accreditation, and for this reason it is viewed with some suspicion. However, a number of physicians and psychiatrists attended, as individuals, the AAPC’s last conference.

One of the pioneers in the field is the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry, started in 1937 by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and a medical doctor, Stanley Blanton, who studied under Sigmund Freud and who is the present director. Until recently its activities have been confined to New York, but it is now opening three clinics in the West and Midwest and is expanding its pastoral training program. This group was instrumental in getting the AAPC started two years ago.

Are so many different organizations necessary? Wouldn’t it help to coordinate them?

Arthur M. Tingue, executive director of the AFRP, says that coordination would be “very useful” and that it is already developing to some extent. As an example he cited the merger of the Council for Clinical

Training and the Institute of Pastoral Care, made possible by a grant by W. Clement Stone, chairman of the board of directors of the AFRP.

The movement is still organizationally diffuse, but it is doing what its backers hoped it would—bringing together doctors and ministers, sometimes in bedside consultations with patients. But the AMA’s new department sees the present challenge still as establishing rapport and studying problems. Some of these are:

—How to clear up confusion in the roles of medicine and religion and still treat the “whole man” without dividing him into compartments;

—How long a doctor is morally bound to sustain the life of a dying man;

—How the churches should educate their people regarding the meaning of disease and death;

—Whether and when ministers should make referrals to physicians and psychiatrists, and vice versa;

—The role of the clergyman in shaping healthy public attitudes toward psychiatry and mental illness.

The last point was underscored recently by the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Stanley F. Yolles, who envisions a network of 500 to 600 community mental health centers throughout the country by 1970.

“It is apparent,” he said, “that, as community leaders, the clergy of all faiths have a very important part to play in developing and promoting the centers.… The clergy not only know a broad cross section of the population, but also know it in depth. From this vantage point they are in the best position, excepting perhaps for the family doctor, to make referrals. The neurotic and the psychotic are often frightened as well as confused, so it is important that the suggestion that they seek help come from a person in whom they have confidence.… Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy can often put the patient on the right track. But it is religion that can help him realize that the track leads somewhere.”

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Protestant Panorama

The Methodist Board of Missions announced last month that it had become the recipient of a $2,000,000-plus bequest. The gift, from the estate of the late Holbert L. Harris of Arlington, Virginia, is one of the largest sums of money ever contributed to Christian missionary effort. The estate is in the form of income-producing property that is expected to support sixteen missionary couples a year. Before his death Harris donated to the board a $750,000 motel near Richmond, the income from which now supports three medical missionaries.

The Latin America Mission’s “Evangelism-in-depth” team in the strife-torn Dominican Republic has moved its base of operations away from the capital, Santo Domingo, and team members have been visiting other parts of the country without hindrance. The mission estimates that $5,000 will be needed to cover expenses incurred as a result of the Dominican Republic crisis.

The Rev. Peter Deyneka, director of the Slavic Gospel Association, preached at Sunday services in the Moscow Baptist Church to audiences of 2,000 and 2,500. In Leningrad he spoke at a Wednesday night prayer service attended by 1,000 people.

West Indian Methodists and Anglicans have concluded a series of talks on cooperation and possible union, and will resume the discussion in November in Barbados.


A silver plaque presented by Pope Paul VI to a Jewish children’s organization was sold at auction in England for $1,470. Proceeds will go to the Italian Anne Frank Haven for Youth Aliyah in Northern Galilee.

The Constitutional Court of Italy has upheld laws making public insult of Roman Catholicism a crime.

Four theological faculties (Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and one non-denominational) have formed the Association of Theological Faculties in Iowa. They are of, respectively, the Aquinas Institute of Theology, the Theological Seminary of the University of Dubuque, Wartburg Seminary, and the School of Religion at the State University of Iowa (Iowa City).

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Milo A. Rediger, former vice-president and academic dean of Taylor University (Upland, Indiana), was elected president of the university.

Kendig Brubaker Cully was elected dean of the Biblical Seminary in New York.

Dr. Kurt Schmidt-Clausen has resigned as general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation to accept a staff position with the Lutheran Church of Hannover, whose 3.8 million members make it the largest territorial church in West Germany.

John R. Beardslee, III, was elected to the Abraham Messier Quick Chair of Church History at the Reformed Church in America’s New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Dr. James Allan Munro was elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Leslie R. Keylock has been appointed assistant professor of theology at St. Norbert College, West De Pere, Wisconsin, and will thus represent classical Protestantism at a Roman Catholic college.

The Rev. Dr. D. Reginald Thomas, minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania, has been called to be the pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church on Park Avenue, New York City, succeeding Dr. Paul Austin Wolfe.

The Rev. Claude A. Horton was elected president of Lorne Park College (Free Methodist), Port Credit, Ontario. He succeeds the Rev. Byron Withenshaw, who resigned.

Herman J. Ridder was elected president of Western Theological Seminary (Reformed Church in America), Holland, Michigan.

Ralph P. Martin, visiting professor at Bethel College and Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota, was named lecturer in New Testament studies at the University of Manchester, England.

They Say

“As Student Body President at the University of California at Berkeley during the Free Speech Movement controversy I was intimately exposed to many agonizing, painful hours and days of political strife between students, faculty and administrators.… Into this life of turmoil and frustration stepped Jesus Christ. I was encouraged by a Campus Crusade for Christ staff member to invite Christ into my heart and life and to let Him take over the controls. Although hesitant at first, I invited Christ in, and His calm, sure, confident way settled the deep unrest of my soul. I have begun to experience the peace and the great adventure of life which God said is available to all, if we but ask.”—Charles R. Powell, in Collegiate Challenge Magazine.

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