Reba Boyd Wooden, the director of Center for Inquiry Indiana, was recently on a panel discussion called “Faces of Faith” at a local healthcare center.
She tried to explain how some atheists may feel in a hospital:
Imagine this scene: You are in a hospital. You are very ill and may be dying. Someone comes in to talk with you. They tell you that your religion is based on myth and superstition. There is no heaven or hell. You have wasted your life believing in things that aren’t true. You must renounce your faith before you die. Scary?
Imagine this scene: You are in a hospital. You are very ill and may be dying. Someone comes in and says, “Do you know Jesus?” You must know Jesus or you will burn in hell for all eternity. You must accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior or face eternal damnation. Let me give you the sacraments so that you will go to heaven.
Scary? Yes. This is the nightmare that many people who are not religious have.
I’ve never heard of the first scenario happening, but the second one happens all the time.
Has anyone here encountered the religious presence in hospitals or do you know someone who has?
I’m pleasantly surprised the organizers of the event put a Secular Humanist on the panel in the first place.
There was a great outcome at the end of this, too.
Some background: Wooden explained five problems Secular Humanists can encounter in a hospital — I’ll jump to the end of the list:
5) There are no non religious chaplains at the hospitals as far as I know. I am sure that most chaplains honor the patient’s personal tradition but just the stress of having to explain to a well meaning and seemly respectful chaplain why they do not want to talk to a chaplain may be more than a severely ill person can handle and they should not have to do so. They may still fear that because the chaplain is religious that they will try to push their views on them. We at CFI would like to be allowed to have a team of trained volunteers on call who have the same privileges as lay visitors from churches and can visit, talk with, and give comfort to nonreligious people.
As an outcome of my being on this panel, Father Lyon and others from the medical center will be coming to CFI Indiana to train volunteers for a “hospital visitation team” who will be on call to serve the nonreligious. I already have ten of our members who have volunteered to be on the team.
That’s fantastic! Let’s work on spreading this idea so that atheists also have someone to talk to when they must be in a hospital setting.
(via Center for Inquiry)