The AMTA Garden
Scott Lamp, President-Elect of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), "believe[s] that it is AMTA who tends the 'Garden of Massage' in America, making the difficult choices about planting and pruning, When carefully tended," he said, "a beautiful garden has room for all types of trees. And a good gardener does NOT believe that the land belongs to him, but rather is entrusted to him."1
Reality is in the eyes
of the beholder
We see things differently. The AMTA Garden of Massage is a Garden of Secular Massage only. Furthermore, we believe that the AMTA is not the gardner who tends the garden, but the gatekeeper. The gardeners are massage therapists because they are the ones who cultivate, make decisions about, and carefully tend their clients.
The Garden of Spiritual
Spiritual massage healers do not have, want, or need any organization which is the self-proclaimed gardener of our ministry. Each spiritual massage healer assumes that responsibility.
Many massage therapists know that the AMTA does not have the only "Garden of Massage in America." They are not members of AMTA because they are attracted to other gardens. Some, like Marian Chapman in Arkansas, prefer the Garden of Spiritual Massage Healing. Marian believes, "We are the dressers and the keepers of [this] garden... The massage modalities practiced and being brought forth today were all once ours and got lost along the way. As we grow, God is returning them to us as re-discoveries. Each of them is meant to be, and eventually will be, incorporated into Spiritual Healing... We've lost that knowledge. It will be returned to us."
"My own interest in" the Spiritual Massage Healing Ministry "stems from my belief that massage is the 'anointing with oil and laying on of hands' as recorded in the Judeo-Christian Bible. I believe touch is the original healing gift given to us by God, that Christ showed us touch can generate spiritual healing and anointed his followers with the gift to be vehicles for the same, and that God, not myself, is the healer. It is work I asked God for, in prayer, and is a part of my worship. I never enter into massage without first centering with prayer; turning my space and myself over to God for His spiritual healing."
"I will not place my hands under the jurisdiction of the medical community or ever practice medical massage..."
["It is not my belief that spiritual healing takes place only through Christians. There are too many documented cases of spiritual healing through others." (Arkansas Alliance for Massage Practitioners, Summer 1996)]
Spiritual massage healing
is religious worship
The following definition of spiritual massage healing2 is in the articles of incorporation (in Pennsylvania) of the Church for Spiritual Healing and Health. This definition reveals that spiritual massage healing is a mode of worship performed in a religious ceremony.
Spiritual massage healing is a form of divinely inspired and divinely guided religious healing. It consists of prayer, love, anointing with oil and movements derived from the laying on of hands. It is the practice of one's religious faith and conscience. It is a mode of worship. The spiritual massage practitioner is a religious healer. Prayer is an integral part of spiritual massage healing. It provides the healer with guidance. Without prayer, there is no spiritual massage healing.
The Arkansas constitution protects
spiritual massage healing because
it is religious worship
The Garden of Spiritual Massage Healing is protected by the Arkansas Constitution which is more expansive, with respect to freedom of religion, than the First Amendment to the constitution of the United States. Article 2, §§ 24 and 25 of the Arkansas constitution read as follows:
All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences; no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship above any other.
Regarding protection of religion, the constitution reads: Religion, morality and knowledge being essential to good government, the General Assembly shall enact suitable laws to protect every religious denomination in the peaceful enjoyment of public worship.
The Arkansas constitution, like many other constitutions, guarantees people the right to worship according to their conscience, without control or interference by any human authority. But it does much more than that. It requires the General Assembly to enact laws that specifically protect that right; namely, the people's right to peaceful enjoyment of public worship.
The term public worship means that information about how, when, and where people worship is public knowledge. The term peaceful has two meanings: (a) public worship shall not disturb the peace and tranquility of others, and (b) people shall have their peace of mind that they are safe when worshipping openly; that is, with full knowledge of the public.
Liberty is always dangerous, but it
is the safest thing we have. -
Henry Emerson Fosdick
The Arkansas constitution therefore assures people that they may worship without fear of persecution and prosecution. This is important because history is replete with accounts of people who had to worship in secrecy. Public knowledge of how, when, and where they worshipped endangered their lives. During the Middle Ages, the church accused many women healers of witchcraft and heresy. They were then imprisoned, tortured, raped, and killed.
The church at that time considered that it and it alone was the only acceptable judge of all healing. Its unsuccessful struggle to dominate and control health care eventually resulted in its loss of considerable political power. However, millions of people were the innocent victims of that struggle. The present secular state is not the only acceptable judge of healing any more than the church was during the Middle Ages. Let us not have any present-day martyrs. Tre van der Meulen eloquently highlighted this important issue as follows:
[It] would do the public more harm than good ...for me to take a written test and fail it, and not be legally permitted to help people my way. Your truth is your truth and I honor it. What I do is my own wonderful service to mankind. As I honor your truth, please honor mine. Don't ask me to leave my path and take your road.
What I do is needed to build a world filled with love and peace... What I do cannot be tested in any way, shape, or form by a national examination or a state licensing examination. How can I be tested for the color I see on energy chakras, what color needs to be increased or balanced, and how I see an acupuncture meridian. The test for my ability to give a good massage are my clients who receive my spiritual massage healing. (Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. Vol. 2, No. 3. 1996.)
Spiritual massage healing ministers believe they have been chosen and ordained by God (St. John 15:16) and sent forth to minister as His ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14). Marian Chapman expressed this clearly when she said God, not myself, is the healer. [What I do] is work I asked God for, in prayer, and is a part of my worship. I never enter into massage without first centering with prayer; turning my space and myself over to God for His spiritual healing. What Marian does is her peaceful enjoyment of public worship.
One nation under God, with liberty
and justice for all
The General Assembly of Arkansas has a constitutional obligation to enact suitable laws to protect every religious denomination and every mode of worship. It therefore has a constitutional obligation to enact laws to specifically protect spiritual massage healers like Marian Chapman because their spiritual massage healing is their mode of worship.
They need to be protected from secular regulation by the Arkansas State Board of [secular] Massage Therapy - because (according to the Arkansas constitution) No human authority can, in any case or manner whatsoever, control or interfere with the right of conscience; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment, denomination or mode of worship above any other.
To require spiritual massage healers to comply with the secular requirements of the Arkansas State Board of [secular] Massage would violate their constitutional right to worship according to their conscience, without control or interference by any human authority. It would also violate their constitutional right to peaceful enjoyment of public worship.
It is sufficient that a citizen enjoy his
freedom. He isn't required to justify it.
History does that for him. -
Judge James C. Hill
Secular medicine now recognizes that spiritual healing and prayer, which the state may not regulate, are legitimate health care modalities. State agencies which regulate secular massage therapy should, in turn, recognize that spiritual massage healing, which the state may not regulate, is as legitimate a health care modality as secular massage therapy is. Unfortunately, recent development advise us to be on guard to protect the separation of church and state.
I believe there are more instances of the
abridgement of the freedom of the people by
gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. -
"This country was not founded on Christianity but on the principle of religious freedom"3 which the first Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Arkansas protect. Despite these constitutional provisions, speakers at the September, 1996, Christian Coalition's annual "Road to Victory" convention... "pray[ed] for an America in which the separation of church and state is blurred if not obliterated."4
It can't happen here' is always wrong: a dictatorship can happen anywhere. - Karl Popper
"Thomas Jefferson knew the danger of having a single religious view tied to politics. The most passionate effort of his life was to ... assure religious liberty for all. He described himself on his tombstone not as president of the United States but as author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom."5 Jefferson "and his great confederate, James Madison, saw two centuries ago, that the urge to impose religious conformity upon the variety of human spiritual inclinations would be the great curse of the modern state."6 Fortunately, the General Assembly of the state of Arkansas is constitutionally obligated to enact laws to protect the separation of church and state.
Democracy is a process, not a static condition. It is becoming, rather than being. It can easily be lost, but it is never fully won. Its essence is eternal struggle. - William H. Hastie
This report presents opinions only, and is not to be taken as legal advice.
1. Hands-On, AMTA newsletter. May/June 1996.
2. Schatz, A. The Church for Spiritual Healing and Health. Spiritual Massage Healing. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. 1(1):1-53, 1994.
3. Hall. K. Would Jesus belong to the Christian Coalition? Cosmopolitan magazine. p. 40. September, 1996.
4. Rich, Frank. Happy New Year? The New York Times. September 18, 1996.
5. Lewis. A. Jefferson's nightmare comes true. Times Argus. Vermont newspaper. August 10, 1996.
6. The Jefferson heritage: relevant in today's religious conflicts. The Human Quest. page 5. July/August. 1993.