"God sometimes calls people into difficult situations; I think the AMA is one of those situations, and perhaps there are folks who God has called to change it from the inside. I don't think it is possible any longer. It's gone so far down a slippery slope, and those who are left within the organization have such little control, that the ability for change is remote."
David Stevens, CEO, Christian Medical Association
"Belonging to [the AMA] probably makes you complicit with evil. And that is something a Christian should not ever be caught up in — endorsement or complicity with an organization that is doing evil. Scripture teaches we must avoid every kind of evil; we must never do evil that good may come; we must hate and oppose evil; we should separate ourselves from evil; and we should overcome evil with good."
Robert Scheidt, past chair, Christian Medical Association Ethics Commission
"I see little value in being connected to the AMA unless there are significant advantages (e.g.,having an effectivevoice within their meetings and their literature)that offset the obvious negatives. The organization was long ago politicized and itsethical positions are almost always contrary to my own cherished biblical beliefs. This has contributed to astunning loss of membership over the past decades. In my opinion, the time,money, and influenceinvolved in a professional medical membership are better spent in affinity organizations such as the Christian Medical Association. Now that we face a veritable tsunami of ethical conundrums in modern medicine, our trumpet needs to sound a clear call."
Richard Swenson, M.D.
"It's hard to justify spending $420 a year on an organization which has proven themselves an inside-Washington, deal-making organization focused on the issues which relate to doctor payment at the expense of other issues important to health care and the public. My mission [as a Christian doctor] is to take care of the least among us, and it doesn't appear to me that's the AMA's mission when they're fighting for a repeal of a Botox tax."
Martin Makary, professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
"There comes a point where you realize your efforts are not going to make any difference, because the leadership already has a particular agenda in mind, and they're not going to listen to their membership, and they would rather lose members than do what's right. Each physician has to decide whether or not to leave. It depends on how long each doctor feels he or she can fight or be effective — how long the doctor can pay dues to an organization actively working for positions that violate his or her conscience."
Paige Cunningham, executive director, Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity
"I don't think we ought to leave groups like the AMA for secularists, but try to reform them. Christians have an obligation to work with non-Christians, not pull out of the arena into their own enclave. One way to do that is to stay members of secular groups. In this way we can have an influence and can steer in the right direction. If we all pulled out, I think that would be a bad choice."
Alvin Plantinga, professor of philosophy, University of Notre Dame
"There is good to staying and trying to change the system from within. It's hard to change it if you've taken yourself out — you've sort of abandoned it. We encourage our physicians to work to redeem these organizations and not let them be exploited."
John Brehany, executive director, Catholic Medical Association
"Once Christians leave the AMA en masse, they lose their ability to influence the organization. There are moments when in good conscience a Christian cannot remain affiliated with a particular institution or organization, but leaving ought to be a rare tool. If you look over the last 30 years, where have Christians made the most strides in public influence? It has come from their active engagement, not their disengagement in pockets of American society."
D. Michael Lindsay, professor of sociology, Rice University
Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous topics for discussion included the most significant change in Christianity over the past decade, whether the Supreme Court should rule that memorial crosses are secular, multisite campuses vs. church plants, and should Christians fast during Ramadan with Muslims?