Oct 4, 2019

CultNEWS101 Articles: 10/4/2019

Religion and Medicine,  La Luz Del Mundo, Legal, Events, Sexual Abuse

Psychology Today: Religion in the Exam Room
"Religion and spirituality play a role in both patient's and provider's lives. Despite this, medical school is usually an atheistic experience. I went to a state-run medical school. No consideration of religion happened throughout my entire medical school or residency curriculum. It was a long apprenticeship to the god(s) of science. A survey in 2015 (1) found that although a majority of people felt doctors asking about spiritual beliefs was appropriate, a minority objected. Some medical schools such as Rush, Duke, Yale, George Washington, and others have established centers of study of religion and medicine. Overall though, for most students, I believe the training process is a dedication to the idea of duality - that the body is and should be separate from the spirit.

Although formal didactics ignored religion, religion was readily apparent in my clinical experiences. Many patients have religious beliefs that shape their acceptance of health care practices. A Pew study (2) found that even among people who identify as non-religious, a growing percent report spiritual feelings. Some religions have beliefs that obviously impact health choices. For example, in my current practice location, there are many Seventh Day Adventists who are often vegetarian. A simple childhood physical asking about a balanced diet needs to recognize that a vegetarian diet can be balanced. As a provider in this region, I need to be knowledgable about counseling growing children living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Another example of religion affecting medical decisions is that Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions. Many blood-sparing surgical and anesthetic techniques have been developed in response which has benefitted all. Many of my religious patients of different faith backgrounds refuse the HPV vaccine believing that following their religious guidelines of abstinence before marriage will protect their children.

One positive experience of a clinical experience touched by religion stands out in my mind. While training in family medicine I was placed in a town with a group of Muslim refugees. As I was counseling a patient to take his acid preventing medicine twice a day he let me know that as it was Ramadan that treatment plan had to be modified. That led me to discover medical literature on treating patients, including diabetics, during the fasting period of Ramadan. Understanding the patient's religion was key to developing in partnership a plan for his care that respected his religion.

Not all my experiences at the intersection of faith and medicine were as positive as the one above. As a medical student following a psychiatry resident on hospital consults, I met an elderly Christian woman. She was refusing medication believing God's will would care for her in the best way possible and her doctors called a psychiatric consult on her. The psychiatric resident I was following prayed with her and convinced her to take the medication telling her that sometimes God's will works through medication. On the one hand, the resident worked with the patient's religion to achieve the medical team's goal. But the whole exchange didn't sit well with me. A grown and competent adult should be able to refuse treatment without having psychiatry called on them. And a doctor should not heavy-handedly persuade someone to accept a treatment they have repeatedly and clearly said they do not want. The medical team's goal was met but perhaps not the patient's goal. So clearly religion enters the exam room in a multitude of ways and is impactful on medical care in a complex way."  
"A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge held state prosecutors in contempt Thursday for not turning evidence over in the sexual abuse case against the leader of La Luz Del Mundo and two of his followers.

Judge Teresa Sullivan fined Deputy Atty. Gens. Amanda Plisner and Diana Callaghan $5,000 each for violating a court order to hand over materials to attorneys representing Alondra Ocampo, Susana Oaxaca and Naason Joaquin Garcia, leader of La Luz del Mundo, an international church based in Mexico with more than 5 million members. His followers call him the apostle of Jesus Christ.

The judge told prosecutors they have until Friday morning to turn over the evidence.

Garcia and the two co-defendants were arrested in June and charged with 26 felony counts that include child rape, production of child pornography and human trafficking. All three have pleaded not guilty. Garcia, who was hit with a historic $50-million bail early in the case remains in custody, as does Ocampo. A fourth defendant remains at large.

During the hearing, Sullivan told prosecutors they have been given more than "ample opportunity to comply" with the order to turn over evidence to the defense."

A Los Angeles judge has rescinded sanctions against two prosecutors whom she said had failed to give defense lawyers evidence in a case against a Mexican megachurch leader charged with child rape and human trafficking.

Reconsidering at the request of the California attorney general's office, Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan on Friday overturned $10,000 in fines she levied a day earlier but indicated the evidence must be provided by Monday [September 23, 2019].  

"ICSA will conduct a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico November 1-2, 2019. This biennial conference focuses on the needs of former members of cultic groups, movements, or relationships and the families of former or current members.  It also includes a continuing education training track for mental health professionals. Conference sessions emphasize discussion so that participants can address issues pertinent to their individual concerns.

The agenda will address the needs of those seeking help and those who want to help others.  A series of talks will address the theme of sexual abuse. Other sessions deal with practical issues pertinent to families, former members, and others. 

The conference will take place at La Fonda on the Plaza, one of Santa Fe's finest hotels, located in the heart of the old city.

Santa Fe, New Mexico November 1-2, 2019"

ICSA Event: Sexual Abuse of Children and Adults in Religious Organizations
Michael Langone; Patrick Ryan
This session will provide an overview of cult involvement, especially for those who still have loved ones in a group. Subjects to be explored include:
  • The concept "cult"
  • Why do people become members of cultic groups?
  • Why do they stay in cultic groups?
  • Why do they leave cultic groups?
  • What recovery issues do people confront after they leave cultic groups
The conference will take place at La Fonda on the Plaza, one of Santa Fe's finest hotels, located in the heart of the old city.
Santa Fe, New Mexico November 1-2, 2019

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Selection of articles for CultNEWS101 does not mean that Patrick Ryan or Joseph Kelly agree with the content. We provide information from many points of view in order to promote dialogue.

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