'Christian extremist' Kenneth Copeland's Ft Jackson appearances sparks protests
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Both military and veteran groups are protesting a well-known televangelist's appearance at a prayer breakfast on Fort Jackson this week.
A number of veterans and military groups - including the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Forum on Military Chaplaincy, Vote Vets - have called for Fort Jackson to rescind the invitation from televangelist Kenneth Copeland. A petition has also started making the same request.
The prayer breakfast is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1.
Copeland - a member of President Donald Trump's faith advisory board - and longtime television preacher whose headquarters is in Fort Worth, TX, has made a number of claims in the past stating that the Bible says soldiers should not suffer or claim to suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder.
Then Moses said to them: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war, and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies from before Him, and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may return and be blameless before the Lord and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord.
"Any of you suffering from PTSD I want you to listen to me right now," Copeland said in 2013. "You get rid of that right now. You don't take drugs to get rid of it, it doesn't take psychology - that promise right there [points to Bible] will get rid of it."
In a letter to Fort Jackson Commander Maj. Gen. John P. Johnson, MRFF President and Founder Mikey Weinstein asked that given PTSD is a recognized mental health disorder, why would Copeland even be allowed to be on post.
"If you trivialize PTSD, you trivialize the members of the military that have this very serious disease. Is he going to claim next that you can't have [a] traumatic brain injury? Is he going to say at Fort Jackson that PTSD doesn't exist?"
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3.6 percent of U.S. adults had PTSD in from 2016 to 2017. People who battle PTSD are not just veterans and soldiers - PTSD can occur when a person survives any traumatic event, such as a physical assault, car accident, or natural disaster.
A Fort Jackson spokesperson issued this statement when asked about the event and Copeland's involvement:
The Prayer Breakfast is open to all community members, is entirely voluntary, and is cost free to the Army and attendees.
Mr. Copeland's participation in the prayer breakfast is not an endorsement by Fort Jackson of him or of any comments that he may present. Fort Jackson respects and protects all individual's rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution, including ensuring access to religious services and events for those who wish to participate and protecting the rights of those who do not.
The spokesperson also provided a statement from Copeland's organization about their approach to PTSD:
We believe that PTSD is an all too common result of the tragic and horrific events witnessed by our military in combat that cause feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Many of those suffering from PTSD receive psychological and psychiatric help for it every day.
From our perspective, a Christian should ask the Lord what steps of recovery should be taken to receive natural help for the disorder. Many Christian organizations exist to give Bible-based help to those that suffer from PTSD.
Our first priority as Christians should always be to find scriptures that offer hope for healing and deliverance from the maladies that we are confronted with.
Prayer, application of God's Word, and ministry from professionals will bring the lasting help that those suffering need.
Brother Copeland would be the first to tell you the doctor is your best friend if you are sick and your healing has not yet fully shown up. It takes time for your faith to develop. For that reason, it is perfectly all right to pursue medical attention as well. In fact, to refuse to consult a doctor or perhaps stop taking medication (prescription or over-the-counter) before faith is fully developed for healing is potentially dangerous. That would be considered "presumptuous" faith.
God is not competing with doctors or medicine. Like any loving father, He will use any avenue available that you allow Him to work through to help you get well. Getting you well is His desire. Any good doctor will tell you he does not do the healing. He only assists your body to work the way it was created and designed to function by God.
Let me be very clear, Brother Copeland is certainly not against doctors or medicine, and we thank God for the gifts and abilities He has placed in the medical profession.
On Wednesday, MRFF's president issued one final letter to Fort Jackson's commander, pleading to rescind Copeland's invitation:
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