By now a number of my readers will have heard of the case in England of a Christian doctor censured for suggesting to an adult patient that Jesus might be of help to him. This in addition to rendering ordinary medical treatment. The patient's mom (!) reported the doctor to the Committee for Public Safety from Christianity. (Okay, that's not really what it's called.)
Wesley J. Smith makes a number of sensible comments on this. Smith includes an anecdote about a doctor who did not offend him by offering him a New Age DVD.
The case of Julea Ward shows that we have a new idea of "professional standards" taking hold in the helping professions, and that among other things, these "standards" would mean that by definition any sort of religious brand or flavor of counseling or medicine is unprofessional and prima facie harmful. The British reaction to this doctor's brief mention of Jesus is typical of this approach.
Now, what's interesting about this and perhaps even more dangerous than we conservatives might realize is this: Most of us assume that there can be such things as self-consciously Christian schools, self-consciously Christian counseling practices and associations, and even perhaps self-consciously Christian medical practice--the latter coming up most notably in the case of medical missions with an avowedly evangelistic purpose, such as were much lauded in my childhood. (See this bookabout Viggo Olsen, medical missionary to Bangladesh, who was much admired in the church in which I was raised. I seem to recall that Dr. Olsen personally visited our church. When I was a little girl my own ambition was to grow up and be a doctor and join this ministry.)
It might seem that the definitions of "professionalism" in the helping fields that require not bringing up Christianity and above all never "proselytizing" would apply only to secular practices. But why should this limitation hold? If it really is harmful, manipulative, and unprofessional to mix religion and counseling or medicine, then that's that.
It therefore occurs to me to wonder: As these concepts of the value-free and especially religion-free professions take hold, what will be the impact upon self-defined Christian practices and ministries? Will they try to neutralize their approach? Will medical missionaries, where "missionaries" includes the desire to spread the Gospel, be defined out of existence? (I note, here, that when several "medical missionaries" were murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan, their families strenuously assured everyone that they did not "proselytize" but merely gave medical care.) What about Christian counseling?
It's bad enough that people like Julea Ward cannot get secular counseling degrees. It would be even worse if they couldn't get Christian ones, either, and worse still if Christians developed a false conscience about spreading the Gospel while helping people in need.