Proxy War Over… a Nurse?

7 02 2009

(Entle again)

There has been some noise about how a Christian nurse in the UK was suspended, at least temporarily, for offering to pray over a patient.  Needless to say, the patient didn’t appreciate it.

The patient, believed to be in her 70s, refused [the prayer] and Mrs. Petrie insists she left the matter alone.

The sick woman contacted the trust about the incident and Mrs. Petrie was challenged by her superiors.

So far, the only information we have about this is “he-said-she-said.”  GREAT stuff to go off of.  Mrs. Petrie also claims that the woman wasn’t offended, but that “[she] was concerned that someone else might be.”

Even better!  Now it’s not even an imminent problem either!

I think that however much prayer should be kept to oneself, there is no interpretation of freedom of speech that does not allow somebody to ask you whether or not you would like to be prayed over.  Admittedly, it’s not the nurse’s place to be administering prayer to the needy in the first place, but that doesn’t mean it’s rude and arrogant to ascertain whether or not your faith will be well received.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have had a problem if this had gone on and Mrs. Petrie had started lecturing about hell and the evils of a godless life and the dangers of recovery without divine intervention, but it didn’t.  The complaint proffered by the patient was that it MIGHT offend SOMEBODY ELSE.  Why are we getting so worked up about this?  This whole issue with the nurse is just a proxy war to evict all religion from the nursing profession.

Atheists and Humanists shouldn’t be fighting to evict religion from the entire nursing profession – that’s the next step toward becoming what we hate.  When was the last time you heard of a radical group trying to make sure their opinion was the only opinion, and using limits on freedom of speech to get there?  If the places in this argument were swapped, and Christians were railing against atheist influence in a profession, there would be outrage in the atheist community if freedom of speech was limited without good reason.  It would be one thing if Petrie was foisting her religion on others, but she wasn’t.

What do you think?  Should a prayer offering be punishable as long as refusal is acknowledged, or is it a violation of the patient’s rights either way?

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3 responses

8 02 2009
Rick

I think prayers trigger a strong nocebo effect.

Are my operations and meds not going to be enough?
Am I going to die?
Do my medical caretakers get their information only from reliable sources?
Do my caretakers even understand evolution?
Can’t she pray for me without my knowing?

8 02 2009
Rick

Additionally, what the heck is an “atheist” influence? The utilization of the natural and secular worlds?

8 02 2009
Entle

Prayer may indeed trigger a strong nocebo effect for some people; I’m not about to deny that. However, from the fact that this woman has had medical education and is working in a hospital, it’s probably her sacred cow. In my experience, it seems more likely that somebody whose profession is founded upon everything that religion ISN’T is much more likely to believe religion only because they were conditioned to believe religion.

This entire situation would be incredibly different if there was some malpractice or incorrect procedures at the heart of it (as was the case with the nurse who removed ladies’ IUDs), but there wasn’t. Her medicine is sound, it’s only her religion that isn’t.

I would classify an “atheist influence” as something comparable to the discussed “Christian influence.” Maybe influence wasn’t the perfect word to use. If the nurse had instead given the patient a percentage chance of survival, been confronted with a claim that the patient’s god would solve the problem, and then continued to explain to the patient that the survival rate was the same either way, I can see Christians getting angry at that for the same reason. What do you mean God won’t help me? Are you even trying to help the problem? Why are you being so morose?

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