(express.co.uk) - A SUGGESTED sermon produced by the Church of England for clerics attempting to tackle the stigma of mental health pulls no punches.
Written by the Rev Eva McIntyre on behalf of the Church’s Archbishops’ Council and the Time to Change mental health campaign, it suggests John the Baptist, St Paul, St Francis and other figures from the Bible may all have been mentally ill.
It even asks followers to consider accusations made in the New Testament that Jesus "had lost his mind".
It reads: "Many of the people we read about in Bible stories might today be considered as having mental health issues.
"For example, ‘Would Jesus’ family maybe on occasion have said, ‘Cousin John is a bit odd, bless him!’ when John the Baptist took to his eccentric style of life?
"It has long been thought that King Saul, in the books of Samuel, was displaying mood swings that suggest he had bi-polar disorder and some think that St Paul’s Damascus Road experience was the result of some sort of breakdown or psychotic episode.
Even Jesus was not immune to accusations about his mental health: there is a story in the gospel that tells of his mother and siblings attempting to take him home because they are afraid that he has lost his mind
"Even Jesus was not immune to accusations about his mental health: there is a story in the gospel that tells of his mother and siblings attempting to take him home because they are afraid that he has lost his mind.
"Many of the stories of the Saints, too, have led people to discuss their mental health. "For example was St Francis suffering from a mental health title?"
Acknowledging how shocking these ideas might be, Ms McIntyre, a member of the General Synod, adds: "Some may find these suggestions disturbing or offensive even.
"Perhaps we need to ask why it would be so terrible to think that some of our most inspirational forebears might have experienced mental health illness.
"Do we mistakenly believe that God cannot or will not work through people with mental health illness?