Evangelical conman Kenneth Copeland should not be allowed anywhere near an Army prayer breakfast after what he has said about PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be experienced by any soldier, especially those who have been in a war.
It’s a documented medical condition that requires treatment, from medications to counseling.
But in 2013, right-wing prosperity gospel preacher Kenneth Copeland claimed that only non-believers get PTSD and declared that soldiers with PTSD could cure it if they become devout Christians. Copeland said:
“So this is a promise—if you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war…you shall return, you’re coming back, and be guiltless before the Lord and before the nation. Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. 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 will get rid of it.”
Copeland is expected to be the featured speaker at the Fort Jackson Army prayer breakfast in South Carolina on February 1st.
And many serviceman and women have filed complaints to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which sent a letter to Fort Jackson Commander Major General John P. Johnson asking that they remove Copeland from the event.
Foundation president Michael Weinstein said:
“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 traumatic brain injury? Is he going to say at Fort Jackson that PTSD doesn’t exist?”
Indeed, Copeland is a controversial “Christian” who has made some very dangerous claims about PTSD, a problem that has caused many veterans to commit suicide. To prevent troops from committing suicide, they need to know that they can get professional help and that that help is far better and more effective than simply converting to a set of religious beliefs.
Copeland is not a medical doctor, nor is he a psychological expert. The only thing he’s an expert at is peddling his prosperity gospel, which landed him a multi-million dollar private jet off the backs of his congregants.
Fort Jackson responded that they intend to let Copeland speak, even if he does say things that could harm the soldiers in attendance.
“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 (sic) 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.”
More often than not, these prayer breakfasts are not “voluntary” as claimed. Commanding officers usually strongly urge their subordinates to attend and suggest that there are consequences for those who do not.
Such suggestions violate the religious freedom of soldiers across the nation, and they often end up feeling as though they are being forced to listen to the religious rhetoric they disagree with. It’s as if some commanding officers are trying to convert soldiers by force. That’s wrong.
It’s unacceptable. And it’s unconstitutional.
It’s also especially insulting that the Army is letting a PTSD-denier preach to the troops when PTSD has become so common in recent years, even in soldiers who practice Christianity.
The military should protect our troops from con artists like Copeland, and not feed them to the wolves.
Featured Image by Kenneth Copeland Ministries via Wikimedia Commons/CC-By-SA-3.0.