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A view from the streets

Frederick D. Shaw Jr. | 4/9/2009, 5 p.m.

As a Christian minister, it is disturbing to see what I view as an attack on God. The cross being removed from the Los Angeles County seal, the attempts to legalize gay marriages, and prayer being taken out of schools and city council meetings. In addition, it was reported that in one American town, senior citizens were told that they could not pray over their food or sing gospel songs in their community center because it was a public building.

More astonishing is the story of the young girl who was told that she could not give a pencil to a classmate because the pencil had the word "Jesus" printed on it. The disgruntled young girl, upon arriving home, asked her mother "Why does the school hate Jesus?"

One might wonder, "what is the state of religion in today's society"?

In March of 2004, the French Parliament enacted a law against school children wearing religious symbols in public schools, including those worn as part of their traditional garb by Muslim girls, such as scarves and veils. Christian crosses that were considered too large and yarmulkes of the Jewish faith were also forbidden.

It is well documented that the deterioration of the American school systems and its declining morality can be traced back to the mid 1960s. It was at this point when prayer was taken out of schools and mental health counselors were placed into schools. Since then, test scores and moral behavior, and a sense of what is right and wrong has declined. Many point to this moment as the time that religion came under attack.

However, the attack on religion or the plot to kill God has its origin much earlier than the 1960s. In 1940, British psychiatrist John Rawling Rees, co-founder of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), at the National Council of Mental Hygiene, acknowledged that the two easiest professions for Mental Health to infiltrate were the teaching profession and the church.

But even more astonishing was the reinforcement of this idea by Canadian psychiatrist G. Brock Chisholm, another co-founder the WFMH, who in 1945, targeted religious values and called on psychiatrists to free the race from the crippling burden of good and evil, attacking the very core of many of the worlds religions, including that of the Christian faith.

What gave a non-religious entity the right to challenge the validity of God, or become expert in handling matters of the spirit?

When inspecting the words psychology and psychiatry we see a very interesting thing. The word psychology derives from psyche (soul) and ology (study of) so psychology means the study of the soul. Psychiatry is soul plus iatry which means "doctoring" or "treating," which is the doctoring of the soul.

When considering the above derivations of psychology and psychiatry, the field on mental health fits the criteria for being called a religion. But psychiatry took a non religious path and instead of acknowledging the spiritual nature of man, labeled man an animal.

However, Franz G. Alexander and Shelton T. Selesnick, the authors of The History of Psychiatry indicated there was a problem. "As long as psychiatric problems were those of the soul, only the clergy and philosophers could be professionally concerned with such problems." This excluded psychiatry and again pitted the profession against religion. This rekindled an old feud, that began in the 1800s, and lead to the modern era assault of killing God.

Psychiatry, according to its own profession experts, was faced with an interesting dilemma. It either had to become a religion, which became difficult after labeling man an animal and disregarding his spiritual nature, or find a way to usurp the power of religion.

- Reverend Frederick D. Shaw Jr., is a former Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff and co-founder and president of Basic Life Institute. He served two terms as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Compton Branch. He is an international speaker having lectured in South Africa, Germany, England, China, Mexico and throughout the United States. He can be reached by e-mail: fshawjr@yahoo.com.