Part 6: More Than Prefield - GINA, Prayer, and Boundaries

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My problem with GINA isn’t just with what I can do or say as a psychologist. It is WAY bigger. Consider what goes on in every group of Christians (globally, but in this case I will ratchet back to the US and our cute friend (!) GINA). By and large, we are a people of prayer, who are taught to bring everything to God in prayer. The list for everything was made up a few (!) years before GINA was born. Prayer and share groups are part and parcel of every mission organization. I have sat in thousands of them, with leaders, therapists, members, etc. And in just about every one of them, prayer requests are made for physical illness and disability. And with the Internet, this has gone viral. I bet within your inbox right now, (and Facebook, and Twitter, etc) are requests. They are in mine. And everyone, regardless of his or her position in an organization, gets these.


As people ask for prayers for themselves and/or for others they know, genetic data is spread all around the group. It happens every day. And it is prayed for. (Perhaps people could be guilty of violating confidences if they ask for prayer in a group for someone else’s condition, but it is impossible for someone to guard against this. A person may ask family to pray, and no one else, and then this crosses that barrier when a family member asks their close friends to pray, and then it goes everywhere.  There is no way to control this.)

It is what we do.

And now, GINA comes along, and all of a sudden we all (and I mean all) have to start questioning what we bring before the group for prayer. The general population isn’t sure what is a symptom or precursor to a genetic condition, and they (myself included) pray for them just as much as a cold. And who knows what will be declared GINA-tic in the future as more “science” is done?

Is it just my well-developed skepticism, or have we all been sold a bill of goods and sent down a very troubling path??

The critical issue here is not merely what I as a clinician/professional can’t give back to the organization, but what does the organization do with the landslide of information about its people that it gets through DAILY interactions? I look forward to your answer to this!

In an aside, I have been imagining me giving prayer requests in our chapel on morning, and you are there as my GINA filter:

“Good morning everyone! Before we pray I want to bring up some of the prayer requests I have been given. Sally will not be in the remainder of the week because she is feeling depressed, uh, no, I mean, she is feeling sad, no wait, remember last fall when she missed 2 weeks, oops, I can’t say that either, ok, just pray for her that she will be able to sleep tonight…no, sorry, can’t say that – Gin-I mean Theresa, what can I say… Okay. Please just remember Sally this morning, and that she will think happy thoughts.” And, as for the rest of the requests, I think we will be safest if we just send prayer-hugs to them all. Here they are…”

OK, sorry to shoot the messenger, and my sarcasm is going strong here, but I am highly concerned that this legislation is very problematic, to use an appropriate word. 

Therefore, my question is: “How does an organization manage GINA-tic information that is all around it in its networks and on the web?”


Disclaimer: not official legal or psychological advice or opinion

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations