I see that the British Medical Journal this week has featured the Christian Medical Fellowship in its ‘lobby watch’ column. Apparently CMF is a lobby group.
The article mainly focuses on the case of Richard Scott, a Christian doctor who is awaiting a hearing with the General Medical Council for talking about his Christian faith in the consulting room.
However, although it discusses the appropriateness of sharing faith within the consultation, no mention is made of the fact that the General Medical Council and Medical Defence Union have recently endorsed 'tactful' offers of prayer by GPs or that the GMC has similarly confirmed the appropriateness of sensitive faith discussions with patients.
Nonetheless I would like to take this opportunity personally to thank the BMJ for almost a whole page summarising our history and aims in the opening paragraph, linking to CMF's website and ending with details of our development fund appeal.
I hope the article brings in lots of new members for CMF.
This is not the first time that the BMJ has given publicity to CMF. In fact, as I discovered recently, the BMJ may have actually carried a key role in CMF’s inception through a notice it carried back in 1948.
The short piece makes reference to the Medical Prayer Union, which one year later in 1949 merged with the medical division of the postgraduate fellowship of IVF (now UCCF) to form CMF. The MPU’s secretary Neville Bradley is suggesting the formation of a new ‘Christian Medical Group.
Dr. NEVILLE BRADLEY, Hon. Secretary, Medical Prayer Union (South End Cottage, Turville Heath, Henley-on-Thames), writes:
Founded over 50 years ago the Medical Prayer Union has sought in various ways to foster fellowship among Christian doctors. It has organized the Missionary Breakfast at the Annual BMA Meetings and another for medical students every year in the spring. It would seem from many points of view that the time is opportune to link medical men and women in some more effective way in order to promote and maintain a distinctive Christian witness in what is tending to become an increasingly secularized and nationalized service and to foster and support the medical missionary activities of the Church at home and overseas. Will any interested send me their suggestions regarding such a ‘Christian Medical Group’?
I was not previously aware of this piece but I’m sure that the Christian Medical Fellowship’s formation shortly afterwards was no coincidence. So even more thanks to the BMJ is in order.
The ‘missionary breakfasts’ at the annual BMA meetings referred to are still running over 60 years later. This year’s ‘CMF breakfast’ was addressed by Prof Glynn Harrison and chaired by the BMA president David Haslam.
Just as the Church of England has been called ‘the Tory Party at prayer’, so the CMF in previous days was known as ‘the BMA at prayer’.
Back in the 1940s members of the BMA and the CMF shared common views on most ethical issues but this is no longer the case as a result of the secularizing process that Bradley mentions.
Interestingly the CMF has not moved its position over these sixty years and still holds to ethics based on the Judeo-Christian tradition and historical codes of ethics like the Hippocratic Oath and Declaration of Geneva.
But the BMA has moved its position considerably.
It is good that despite this the BMJ still grants the CMF considerable column inches.