Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 28 June 2009

Keep religion out of medicine!

I have to say that if I was in hospital as a patient and some nurse or doctor tried to 'pray for me' or talk to me of religion I would be more than upset, I would be tremendously angry. The worrying and frightening thing is, though, that if I was very ill and in much pain I might be reluctant to voice my dislike for fear of possible 'repercussions' in my medical care.

In my experience some people with a strong religious faith simply do not understand that their ministrations are not wanted and can come across as, and actually be, 'pushy' in their efforts to 'help' a poor ignorant person like me who doesn't want them to peddle their religion in my direction. It is equally true that I have known a few deeply-religious individuals who were exceedingly discreet in their faith, without in any way hiding it, but they would never dream of imposing their religious views on others who did not wish to hear it; I certainly respect such people and would never belittle their faith.

For the avoidance of any doubt or confusion it should be left to patients in hospital to express a wish for some kind of spiritual guidance or support - and to the chaplaincy service to provide it. Personally I have no objection to a nurse or doctor wearing a small and unobtrusive crucifix (for example), but unless a patient seeing it asks them for support of a spiritual kind they must not take it upon themselves to offer this - and if I was not actually in extremis and such a thing happened to me I would like to think I would have no hesitation in telling the person who had done so to 'get knotted'!


  1. I'm afraid this phenomenon is not limited to the hospital. I have two friends - one who is hard of hearing and another who uses a wheelchair - who have been waylaid by religious idiots who, without asking either of them "laid on hands", invoking the healing power of Christ.

    I was appalled to hear this had happened once. Actually, both reported that this had happened to them at least four times in the relatively recent past as both were minding their own business on the high street.


  2. Yes, it's amazing how some are so infused with the 'light' that they want eveyone else to share their passion (i.e. obsession).

    A neighbour where I used to live (no, not the [only] reason I moved - lol) rang my door-bell one day, soon after I came back to live in this country - until then it had effectively been a 'holiday home' for many years - to introduce herself so I naturally invited her in for some coffee; I foolishly thought it was a nice, friendly gesture on both our parts. It soon became clear she was a religious zealot, of the 'evangelical Baptist' persuasion, and she proceeded to try and 'recruit' me. On leaving she asked if I had a Bible, so I pointed her to my study where I kept most of my library, and she took the 'good book' down, perched next to my copies of the Holy Qu'ran and the I Ching, and proceeded to go straight to a chapter/verse which she marked with the ribbon and suggested I read. The next time she called at my door, a week or so later, I declined to allow her entry ;) . Her poor husband, who is devout in a quieter fashion, is I think mortified by her behaviour when I occasionally meet them even today, as they sometimes come for walks on the beach very close to where I now live; naturally I do not invite them in for coffee!

  3. Prayer has been shown to be efficacious in more than one medical case, Bill.

    Now whether the metaphysical or the psychological aspects contributed to the improvement is not established but I believe in the adage - if it works, do it. :)

  4. Far worse than what you mention is that the capitalist cult of healthcare for profit has got its claws well and truly dug into medicine and won't let go.

  5. James

    Fair enough for those who wish it (as I said in my blog article); for those who do not wish it (such as me) or believe in its efficacy (such as me) then I would object very strongly to having it foisted on me - and my negative attitude toward it would be unlikely to assist the recovery process, I'd have thought.


    And that's a bad thing? - lol. I make no apologies for having private medical insurance to supplement what the NHS provides (and which I pay for, too, of course). There is nothing wrong with 'capitalism' and everything wrong with 'socialism' - in my opinion, of course.


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