Whilst we are grateful to the BMJ for its attention, the 650 word article about the Christian Medical Fellowship in this week’s ’Lobby Watch’ devotes 412 words to one of our 5,000 members, 127 words to one course we run and only 111 words to CMF itself. Readers will learn much more about us from our website but let me give a brief overview.
Ever since ‘Luke the Physician’, the first century historian and church leader who wrote two books in the New Testament, Christian doctors motivated by Jesus Christ’s teaching and example have been profoundly influential in shaping healthcare’s history, prominent amongst them Pare, Pasteur, Lister, Paget, Barnardo, Jenner, Simpson, Sydenham, Osler, Skudder and Livingstone.
CMF UK was founded in 1949 following a notice placed in the BMJ. With over 4,000 doctors and 1,000 medical students as members we are affiliated with about 70 other national bodies of Christian doctors worldwide through the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA). We are interdenominational and mainstream.
Our charitable objects include the promotion of the Christian faith, the promotion of education and the alleviation of poverty, suffering and distress worldwide and membership is open to all who sympathise with our aims, have personal faith in Jesus Christ and accept the authority of the Bible.
CMF’s principal work is to unite and equip Christian doctors and to this end we run conferences, publish books and periodicals and coordinate local, speciality and special interest groups.
We also have an interest in medical work abroad and in public policy. Currently 200 members work abroad full time with a variety of mission and secular agencies in 45 different countries whilst many others, based in the UK, are regularly involved in short-term overseas visits.
CMF seeks to be a voice for Christian values in healthcare and our ten point ethical code includes, a commitment to sex within marriage and upholding the sanctity of human life. These two emphases, along with our desire to be witnesses to our faith and our belief in Christ’s exclusive teaching and claims, do understandably bring us into some conflict with those pursuing a more secular agenda.
However it is noteworthy that the involvement of doctors in abortion, for example, also runs contrary to the Hippocratic Oath and Declaration of Geneva and that the BMA was also itself once strongly opposed to it. It is not CMF which has moved!
With respect to the integration of faith and practice we welcome the GMC’s recognition that ‘all doctors have personal beliefs which affect their day-to-day practice’. We also welcome the recent endorsement by the General Medical Council and Medical Defence Union of 'tactful' offers of prayer by GPs and the GMC’s confirmation of the appropriateness of sensitive faith discussions with patients.
BMJ readers may be interested in my recent Triple Helix editorial ‘Faith matters in healthcare encounters’ and also in our new book 'At a Given Moment' available via our website.
We welcome all doctors and others who share our aims and convictions to join us.