In a recent article published on CounterPunch.org entitled: Prophets of the People or Chaplains of the Status Quo?, William Alberts, PhD launches a searing attack against the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education for its failure to live up to its mission statement as "... the first and leading self-described “multicultural, multi-faith organization devoted to providing education and improving the quality of ministry and pastoral care offered by spiritual caregivers of all faiths through the clinical education methods of Clinical Pastoral Education.”
Although his article was written just prior to the Charleston, SC slaughter of the of those gather in Emmanuel Mother Church for prayer, Alberts' article is disturbingly and profoundly relevant to the event.
“The Powers that be.” ACPE may fear losing its U.S. Department of Education endorsement if it becomes too political. ACPE may also avoid political issues, fearing losing the goose with the golden egg, as the Chaplain Corps uses ACPE training for military chaplains, with CPE centers also on military bases and in VA hospitals. In the latter, the supervisors may be military, but are also ACPE certified. It is the politics of religion that often keeps religion out of politics—out of risky political issues."
CPSP escapes his critical critique, although his critique, might equally apply to CPSP and other pastoral care and counseling organizations.
Stating the above, however, as Publisher and Editor of the Pastoral Report, I published position statements written by CPSP leadership related to the Iraq war, gay marriage and the Charleston, SC killings. These were not personal opinions. They were official public positions of CPSP. The first two public positions by CPSP were disturbing and criticized by some members of the CPSP community. In the face of such public and controversial stance by CPSP leadership, a number of CPSP members ended their membership with CPSP or found a way to attack the CPSP leadership on other issues as a subterfuge.
Here are links to CPSP public statements:
October 14, 2003. The CPSP Governing Council Meeting in Washington, DC Issues Position on War with Iraq addressed to President George Bush:
...The drumbeat for war emanating from the national leadership is deeply troubling and divisive. The current national leadership may well be privy, as you claim, to secret information affecting the nation’s security and well being. While it is almost impossible for citizens to assess the weight of evidence that impels us toward war, the call for terror to meet terror in the case of Iraq leaves us wary. ...
March 14, 2013. CPSP Public Declaration: Commitment to Marriage Equality
"The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy (CPSP) declares publicly in the name of justice its dismay with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed by Congress in 1996 and the subsequent Defense of Marriage Act laws passed by some states designed to penalizes persons due to their sexual identity.
The College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy endorses the right of civil marriage and that it should be available to all who wish to make this relational commitment.
... Every human being is entitled to justice and dignity as a given right and that we have an obligation to respect and defend the dignity of every human being and of every loving relationship including the relationship of raising future generations..."
June 19, 2015. Raymond Lawrence, CPSP General Secretary, Response to Charleston, SC Tragedy:
"The ghastly event at Mother Emanuel AME Church Thursday in Charleston, South Carolina, was an unspeakable act of violence seemingly motivated explicitly by racial hatred.
We must do all we can to counter these kinds of outrageous assaults, and to be united with those who are victimized by them.
This incident calls attention to the disturbing rise of both overt and covert hostility in this country, particularly directed against racial minorities and the poor.
We in CPSP must do all we can to be in solidarity with the abused, the assaulted, and the oppressed. This is our moral and our prophetic pastoral responsibility.
I call for all in CPSP as well as those beyond the boundaries of our community, to renew our commitment to work toward a just and loving community for all people, with special concern for racial minorities and the poor among us."
I searched for similar official statements from the ACPE and found none. If they do not exist, it provides credence to William Albert's critique. If they exist, Albert's critique is off the mark. If Dr. Alberts is correct, however, ACPE is subject to Albert's critique:
"...the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education’s emphasis on “cultural competency” apparently did not lead its members to issue a policy statement on a major issue raging around them at their May meeting in Atlanta. That major issue, which continues to draw protests nationwide: the killing of black men and youths by white police officers in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, North Charleston, Baltimore and other cities. One would think that a self-proclaimed commitment to “heal a hurting world” would lead ACPE to use its annual meeting, especially with all members gathered, to declare “Black Lives Matter!,” and to issue a policy statement and plan of action to join with other community groups in addressing the “hurting world” of persons of color."
Below is the link to William Alberts' Article, "Prophets of the People or Chaplains of the Status Quo?"
The sad truth is that William Alberts, in general, is on the mark and that we in the clinical pastoral movement, not just the ACPE, have sold our soul for a space in the public market place.
Perry Miller, Editor
Perry Miller, Editor
Note: Those wishing to respond to Dr. Alberts' article can do so: William Alberts
His recent book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn't be "preyed" away) can be found on Amazon.com.