Monday, May 9, 2011

presenting christ to terminally ill atheist

"presenting christ to terminally ill atheist" was one of the search strings used to arrive at this blog recently. I tried that search, and it retrieves my post about prayer not being effective. So not really satisfying the searcher, and probably wasn't read....  but now I'm curious.  Why would someone want to do this?"

How many atheists in Europe or the Americas haven't heard of Christianity?

My mother was hospitalized in a religious hospital some time ago.  It's the only hospital around, and the one that her Medicare will allow her to go to.  (Is that Constitutional?)   They didn't push religion at all, until the resident social worker came by to talk about where mom would go after being released.  She offered to lead us in prayer.  My brother, mother, and I got very squeamish.   Even if we believed anymore, we wouldn't have appreciated an un-ordained random lay stranger making shit up for God's ears in our name.  We grew up Episcopalian.  It was a very awkward moment, and she took the hint. 

My town in Texas had only one hospital, a Seventh-Day Adventist one.  (They stayed open on Saturdays, though)  I went to the E.R. a couple of times and had to have an X-Ray once, so I was subjected to some bland Christian-themed posters.  I would never have denied myself health care because of where it was located, but it still pissed me off.  Hindus and Muslims are a real presence in our medical schools.  Atheists too, though not obviously so of course.  How many of these hospitals are losing out on the top talent because of their religious affiliation?  If I were a Hindu I wouldn't want to go to work every day in an institution that promoted Christianity.

Christians are proud of their history of having hospitals.  Should it really be a point of pride?  If they use them for conversion it's the lowest form of deception.  (a BIG complaint against Mother Teresa) And it's not like other religions haven't done the same.

This letter-to-the-editor brought this up for me. The title is "Christians build hospitals; why don't atheists?" but the writer is objecting to a lawsuit involving a church and the local school system.  In typical Christian fascism, oops fashion, the writer deflects from the legitimate issue of whether their local government was un-constitutionally promoting a single religion to whethr her religion had done good things.  Who could complain about forcing such a noble religion on children?  This ignorant writer probably has no idea what the Constitution says or how it's been applied over the past 200+ years.

She probably also doesn't consider the long history of Jewish hospitals or those of other religions, either. 

Of course, healing people is a good thing, so arguing against religious hospitals is a losing proposition.  "It might help, and couldn't hurt" is the default position on prayer.  Suggesting that prayer and religion could be harmful is politically incorrect.  Of course, by claiming innocuous motives and results, they defeat their own position.  If it's so innocuous isn't that the same was worthless?

Then there's the issue of quality control...   Just like pedophile priests, a religious organization controls decisions about incompetent or misbehaving believers.  They can address the problem, ignore it, hide it, and those are the same choices as non-religious organizations, of course.  The one choice they have and seem to use when it's convenient is that they can rationalize cruelty if conversion is the outcome.  Did Mother Teresa abuse her patients?    Who cares?  She's on her way to sainthood.


Infidel753 said...

How many atheists in Europe or the Americas haven't heard of Christianity?

True, but:

(a) they hope the dying person might convert this time out of desperation, and

(b) pushing religion on a dying person is an opportunity to indulge in smug, arrogant, "I'm right, you're wrong" superiority, all the while feeling self-righteous about it.

LadyAtheist said...

I wonder if they count deathbed baptisms when they tally the number of conversions they've accomplished. Do they brag to each other about the number of souls they've saved? They certainly can't believe God is keeping track of insincere conversions and giving them kudos for them.

What is my Duty said...

If a Christian sincerely believes a terminally ill atheist will go to hell, they would be cruel not to try to save them from that fate. Being afraid of rejection and criticism is not a good enough reason to deny any terminally ill person the opportunity to be saved. Right now I know a terminally ill atheist and don't want them to go to hell. Why gamble with eternity, even if you say you don't believe?

LadyAtheist said...

That's called "Pascal's Wager" and it is up to the person to make that gamble, not the people around them.

Every Christian is gambling that Christianity is correct and that all other beliefs about the afterlife are incorrect. A Buddhist may believe you are doomed to return in your next life as a cockroach for lacking humility. How seriously have you considered other religions? If you haven't taken each claim seriously, then you have no more right to insist on yours than anyone else who believes in their culture's religious norms.