Thursday, August 31, 2006

Disturbing Results

In an increasingly pluralistic America, where we value diversity and individual rights above all else, or at least that is our rhetoric, some ideas are less acceptable than others.

After logging-off a popular free email service, I found a link to this story about healthcare providers who both come from and cater to a particular audience whose faith commitments prevent them from using contraceptives. I was impressed. The truth is, I think having medical practices, colleges, and financial institutions that cater to the moral needs of people of faith is a great thing. Fine, I'm a pastor, but I'm also a person of faith who would prefer to invest his money in a way that would support enterprizes I find desirable, not just whatever an investment firm finds profitable, whether it's selling Christian books, gambling, pyotechnics, organic coffee, prostitution or pornography.

Generally, Americans support the right of others to make choices. Not only is it important to our Capitalist system, it is also the primary way we exercize our personal freedom. However, in contemporary America, there is a growing sense that choices motivated by religion, especially traditional Christianity, shouldn't be acceptable.

At the time I read the article and took the poll, only 26% of people who responded to the question answered "I support them and hope they take off," to the question "What do you think of medical practices that blend health and faith?" What was worse, out of 21987 responses, 38% responded "I do not support them at all." Amazingly, a plurality of respondents would prefer to prevent individuals from having the choice to seek religiously informed health-care.

I guess this shouldn't surprise me. Catholic hospitals have been on the receiving end of attacks for years for refusing to provide abortions, and Massachusetts required Wal-Mart to sell morning-after pill earlier this year (in a reading of state law that would seem to require all pharmacies to dispense the drug, regardless of their religious objections).

I guess many Americans believe that free practice of religion should end when we enter the public sphere, whether that is in our own medical practice, while looking for a doctor, or choosing a pharmacy. I wonder if these folks think Christians should have a right to choose what books to sell in Christian bookstores, or if Christian counsellors and psychologists should be allowed to practice their trades in light of their faith?

Some of us seem to have confused living according to particular values with imposing them on others. This is truly a sad day.


Melissa said...

Just to let you know, I tried to read the article, and the article is no longer there!

Kate said...

I hope that Americans just have a reading comprehension problem, and that they are not that absurd and contradictory.

me said...

I think thits is a very complex issue that could use alot of open discussion. I think it is very important that all hospitals and health care facilities have all medical options simply because they are public facilities, and this includes in my mind Catholic hospitals. I understand there are religious reasons to not have them but the consequenses of not making them avalible (such as freedom of choice) are larger and in my mind more important to the general population than religious morals.
Yet with that said I am a very religious person. I am very active in social justice and love to talk about Jesus. However I recognize that we live in a society that has many beliefs and even if I don't agree with them who am I to say that someone shouldn't get a abortion? Why am I right? Sure they should have counseling, even Christian counseling if they want it, but if they don't want it and they want a morning after pill then that's not my place to judge.
I think itt is unfortunate that there are so many things in our world that are not the way we'd like to see them, but if we do not protect the choice to have everything who will soon come and take away the freedoms we enjoy? Christianity is outlawed in so much of the world, or converting from Islam is punishable by death. We do have the freedom to go to Christian bookstores, but with that freedom must come the other extremes. It is sad, but true.
I find hope remembering that I am called to live in the world but not of the world and that this is not my true or eternal home. God Bless!
your sister in Christ,

dragon said...

In response to Erinmichelle:

I have to disagree with the idea that all health care facilities should have to allow all "medical" options. This seems to imply that the people working there should be willing or forced to preform any procedures stipulated by the majority of the public.

If someone thinks abortion is morally wrong and further usually not necessary for the good health of the mother, then should that person be prevented from becoming a doctor because they'd be unwilling to take the required action at some point?

Or what if several like-minded medical practitioners got together to pool their resources and form an institution, should they be forced to preform procedures they object to just because they are now a "public facility"? Or should they be forced to hire someone whose ethos conflicts with their own to preform those procedures?

It seems to me that in one way or the another one person's ability to "choose" almost always comes at the cost of another person's will, at least where the contentious moral issues are concerned.

- Peter Kisner