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Asking the clergy about faith healing

In the minds of some, faith healing and medical healing are worlds apart. This week, our clergy shed light on the debate.

The Rev. Mark Phillips, First Presbyterian Church, also known as The Old Whalers' Church, Sag Harbor:

I have seen examples where the faith community and the medical community have teamed together to bring about healing. I know surgeons who will not begin a surgery without a prayer. When the two work together, there can be great healing.

Mistakenly, some people think faith healing is the abandoning of all medical healing. Others think of faith healing like you see on television as a laying on of hands, the person drops to the floor and rises healed or gets up from a wheelchair and walks.

I see it as a person or group of people praying together for someone who is ill. We're all faith healers to some degree if we believe in prayer. Faith healing is simply using all the healing practices that are available to you.

I see my role as being part of a person's healing team. You don't depend on doctors to do it all. Nor do you rely on God to do it all. We also must rely on the gifts that God has given to doctors, nurses and surgeons.

The Rev. Lorraine De Armitt, Westbury United Methodist Church, Westbury:

When I think of faith healing, it is the healing that takes place as the result of prayer and healing rituals.

Unfortunately, we are living in very odd times, where people have divorced faith from the rest of their lives. They've definitely divorced faith from science. They think of it as an either/or situation. I think that is crazy.

Love can go a long way toward making us feel better. And, I also can see good in medical research, especially when you think of the various ways we have of healing the body. My husband had knee surgery, and he feels great. As little as five years ago, his outcome might not have been the same. Medical advances are a direct gift from God.

If one chooses to not use faith healing, he or she is cutting himself or herself off from a whole channel of healing and well-being. What's wrong with having more people caring for you, more people looking out for you?

Rabbi Louis Diament, chaplain, Nassau County Correctional Center, East Meadow:

There is no question, and it has been proven, that when a member of the clergy comes into a sick person's room, most sick people get an uplift from the visit. So, from that standpoint, yes, the two can exist together. That doesn't mean that you rely solely on faith healing. The Talmud (B. Sanhedrin 17b) tells us that a person should not live where there is not a doctor.

A person who has strong religious beliefs will be helped psychologically by faith healing and prayer, and that, in turn, should help them physically.

There are those who say don't ever go to a doctor, just rely on the Almighty. And, there are those who won't take medicine and believe that prayer and conviction are all they need to be fine.

The Almighty gives us a wonderful body and expects us to take care of it. Yes, I believe in faith healing -- but I still wear a coat when it is cold. God has given us the intelligence to know what to do and what not to do.

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