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Ever since Sandy Hook and Webster, one of the main responses from those who oppose stiffer gun laws is that it isn't a problem of lax gun laws, but a problem with an inadequate mental health system.  As someone who thinks the problem is two-pronged, I'm of the mind that there's one surefire way to call the bluff of those who insist it's just a mental health issue.  Namely, start calling churches on the carpet for discouraging members with mental problems from seeking treatment.

While reading Jane Velez-Mitchell's book, Secrets Can Be Murder, I learned about the case of Dena Schlosser, the woman in Plano, Texas who chopped off her ten-month-old daughter Maggie's arms in 2004.  The baby bled to death the following day.  It turned out that Schlosser had a long history of mental illness.  She'd been diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after giving birth to Maggie, and according to an excellent 2006 piece in the Dallas Observer, she was later diagnosed as bipolar.  She was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity, and spent all but a few of the next six-plus years in mental institutions before being released on outpatient care.

However, she was a devout member of Water of Life Church, a fringe charismatic church in Plano pastored by Doyle Davidson.  Among other things, Davidson taught that mental illness was demonic--something that is still taught in several charismatic/pentecostal circles, though most of them (like yours truly) believe that God works through medicine as well as through divine healing.  Schlosser had been diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after giving birth to Maggie, but she and her husband had been wary about taking her medications due to Davidson's teachings.  Davidson is a piece of work himself--he once claimed that his wife, Patti, was no longer truly his wife, instead claiming that his personal secretary was his real wife.  He actually testified under oath that he believed mental illness to be demonic.  

The ensuing outcry resulted in Davidson being kicked off television outside the Dallas area.  He's since been knocked off TV altogether; the station that aired him switched to Spanish programming.  Amazingly, though, this guy's church not only still exists, but several radio stations are desperate enough to carry him.  I find myself wondering--how in the world is this church still in existence?

To my mind, we need to start coming down with hobnail boots on churches that discourage their flocks from seeking mental help.  It's well established that the most stringent First Amendment protection will not protect a church that discourages its members from getting their kids vaccinated.  This should be no different.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 02:08 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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