Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why religion and hospitals don't mix

Recently I read Christopher Hitchens' excellent The Missionary Position - Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, which pretty much explains how Mother Teresa's religion got in the way of good health care. The book's main points are summed up in this '98 interview, but basicly, the part relevant to health care is this:

Indeed. I was even sort of thinking, hmmm. . . maybe I should fumble for some money. And with a gesture of the arm that took in the whole scene of the orphanage, she said: you see this is how we fight abortion and contraception in Calcutta. And I thought: Oh I see—so you actually say that do you? Because it had crossed my mind that part of her work was to bear witness for the Catholic creed regarding the population question, to propagandize for the Church’s line. But I hadn’t realized it was so unmediated. I mean, that she would want to draw my attention to the fact that this was the point.

I don’t know Calcutta terrifically well, but I know it quite well. And I would say that low on the list of the things that it needs is a Christian campaign against population control. And I speak as someone who’s personally very squeamish on the abortion question. People who campaign vigorously against contraception, I think, are in a very weak position to lay down the moral law on abortion.

So in other words, the fight against abortion and contraception is more important than the health of people they treat.

Now, Abbie at ERV has a post up that shows that the same can be said about Catholic (and other religious) hospitals in the US.

What Abbie also points out, is that religious hospitals in the US are primarily state funded, yet they are allowed to refuse to give people proper treatment because of religious dogma.
So, when can we expect hopsitals run by Jehova's Witnessses refusing blood transfusions?

My message is simple - if you don't want to provide proper health care because of religious reasons, you have nothing to do in the health care industry.

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Blogger Jesse Wiedinmyer said...

I need a little help, if you could. It's not necessarily blog-related, so I'll bury it back here. I'm getting into the standard "Not all muslims are suicide bombers, nor is there anything to suggest that Islam is inherently more violently inclined than Christianity, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Any chance that you can provide me with links or examples of non-muslim religiously motivated violence (preferably the more recent the better. The person I'm arguing with seems to think that christianity has evolved past this point. Though that would seem to argue that Islam may also.) I'd prefer to counter with recent events suggesting that we're not so much beyond. Any help would be appreciated.

July 02, 2007 5:18 AM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Jesse, I am on the way to work, and will put up something a bit longer when I get back from work. However, Christian violence is still out there.

One obvious target is abortion clinics, where just a month ago a man was arrested for attempting to bomb one.

But as I said, I will post something when I come back from work.

July 02, 2007 7:26 AM  
Blogger Jesse Wiedinmyer said...

Thanks, Kristjan... It's a discussion in LibraryThing's Polyconservatives thread.

The two posts that I'll be responding to will be...

>While you're at it, see if you can find any modern day examples of Christians or Jews carrying out such extremisms.


>Jesse: I think Christians and Jews might argue that their religions do not have, as a core propostion, the sort of all-embracing politics-is-for-God-to-determine nature that Islam has. However, I agree with you. You can find just as much, if not more, hair-raising stuff in the Bible as you can in the Koran. That's the way things were back in the bronze age.

>But the difference is, Christians and Jews have successfully adapted their faiths to the norms of the Enlightenment. Yes, if you look hard enough, you can find an exception to the rule, just as there are two-headed calves (Google "Rushdooney".)

>But when I turn on the news and read that some unspeakable atrocity against innocents has been committed, as a deliberate act, I don't wonder which Christian sect has set off the car bomb, or which strain of Judaism has beheaded its hostages.

The second poster is obviously the more sophisticated debater, as he's already framed any counterexamples as "isolated incidents". About the only rejoinder I can think of at this point is legitimacy of authority for carrying out violence.

July 02, 2007 8:24 AM  
Anonymous Alphonsus said...

"My message is simple - if you don't want to provide proper health care because of religious reasons, you have nothing to do in the health care industry."

So what's your plan for after 12.7% of US hospitals close, following your advice?

June 24, 2009 4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opulently I assent to but I think the post should acquire more info then it has.

December 27, 2009 4:37 AM  

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