A nurse on a home visit decided to offer her services as a personal intermediary to a deity and pray for her patient. The patient objected and complained to the health organization — after all, the patient may not like her nasty bronze age god, and may feel put upon that a presumed professional is proposing to waste her time on chanted magic spells. It’s also a matter of courtesy: when I’m teaching, I don’t hector my students on matters outside the course content, like atheism, and when I’m being treated by a nurse or doctor, I expect them to leave irrelevant superstitions out of the examining room.
Anyway, poor suffering Nurse Petrie, martyr of the Baptist faith, is currently under disciplinary review for springing hare-brained mysticism on a patient in her care. Good. I don’t think she should lose her job over one infraction (although apparently she’s done similar things before), but she ought to be disciplined and taught what is appropriate.
But no, that’s not enough for the deranged dingbat Melanie Phillips, who declares that “This is the way society dies“.
I am a Jew; but when my mother was in the last stages of her terminal illness she was cared for by deeply devout Christian nurses who regularly prayed for her. Far from being offended by this, I was touched and comforted by this signal that they cared so much about her.
They cared so much that they bowed their head and babbled to an imaginary being while doing nothing. If someone wants a litany of nonsense recited nearby, sure, go for it…but purveyors of such useless fairy-stroking wastes of time think they have the privilege of pushing it on others, they’ve got another thing coming. And then she plays the Muslim envy card.
Demonstrating ‘a personal and professional commitment to equality and diversity’ apparently means that offering Christian solace to anyone at all, even if they don’t belong to another faith, somehow damages ‘equality and diversity’. Would the same action be taken, one wonders, against a Muslim nurse offering to pray for a Muslim patient?
First of all, “Christian solace” is only solace if you share a belief in the virtue of prayer; to rationalists, it’s all humbug and noise and not comforting at all. And secondly, yes, it doesn’t matter what religion the looney person is practicing. If they’re bowing on a prayer mat, ululating, waving burning incense over my head, sacrificing a chicken, clicking magic beads, or hollerin’ for god to come down and smite the devil in me, get them the hell out of my hospital room.
By the way, there is a poll on the odious Phillips’ screed.
For those of you who think atheists are being too touchy, here are two additions.
Put yourself in the position of the patient. You are sick and dependent on this person to help you get better, and she declares that your belief in her god is important. What do you do? There is an element of coercion here that should not be ignored.
If the nurse were sincere in her faith, there’s something very easy she could do. Don’t ask, just go quietly off by herself and pray for the patient. The request is an unnecessary element that is little more than a ploy for attention, a declaration of her piety.