In March 1907, Sigmund Freud took on God, presenting a paper before the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in which he concluded that religion was a “universal obsessional neurosis.” Ever after, psychiatrists have seen religion as a symptom of problems, not a source of healing. No field has been more resolutely irreligious.

Today’s scene, though, would make Freud twitch. Psychiatry’s realm of final authority—the mental hospital—has been invaded by outspokenly Christian inpatient clinics. Most are run by fast-growing, Christian-owned companies working by contract with local hospitals, but at least one secular corporation has jumped on the trend.

Charter Hospitals, among the nation’s largest providers of inpatient psychiatric care, last year launched “Kairos,” a pilot program in Sugar Land, Texas. Those entering the program are greeted with a “belief statement,” signed by all its therapists, proclaiming among other things, “The Bible is the uniquely inspired book that possesses the authority of God,” and, “Through the work of Jesus Christ, God redeemed humanity.” Program administrator Stuart Palmer, a graduate of Asbury and Wheaton colleges and Princeton seminary, says the program has been an outstanding success, and he gets calls regularly from other Charter hospitals eager to know how they can duplicate it.

Profit Motive

Palmer calls Kairos a miracle program, but the miracle has a lot to do with money. In Palmer’s Houston area, a Christian corporation named Rapha (Hebrew for “heal”) has grown into a major provider of inpatient psychiatric care. “Rapha and Minirth-Meier [another Christian provider] have really got the attention of these big hospital corporations,” Palmer says.

Launched in 1986 by therapist Robert McGee, Rapha has grown ...

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