Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Too Stupid To Name Themselves.

The National Secular Society is misnamed, whether by design or by stupidity I do not know:

An atheist group has backed a decision by a healthcare trust to suspend a nurse who said she would pray for an elderly patient.

The atheist group in question is the NSS. Secularism means that religions should get no preferential treatment in the public sphere, it does not mean that a kind of atheist fundamentalism should get preferential treatment. It also does not mean that religious believers should be actively discriminated against.

6 comments:

JuliaM said...

"Secularism means that religions should get no preferential treatment in the public sphere, it does not mean that a kind of atheist fundamentalism should get preferential treatment."

I think that all changed with the Coming of the Most High, The Exalted Dawkins..

Ross said...

"The Exalted Dawkins"

Peace be upon him.

Bunc said...

You mistake the issue. It is not about persecuting Christians. If an Atheist nurse was forcing her own beliefs on her patients then that would be equally wrong. This nurse should be practicing her nursing skills on her patients. Her religious beliefs are her own private affair as long a she keeps them that way.

Ross said...

"If an Atheist nurse was forcing her own beliefs on her patients then that would be equally wrong."

I don't see how she was forcing her beliefs on anyone, unless acknowledging the existance of those beliefs counts as forcing them upon patients.

JuliaM said...

"This nurse should be practicing her nursing skills on her patients."

Any evidence that she wasn't doing so...?

DJB said...

The NSS was founded in 1866. It has never been a doctrinally atheist organisation, though most of its members are atheists.

Nobody is saying she's not a good nurse, or that she was "forcing" Christianity on anybody. The NSS supported the disciplinary investigation, but has said it welcomes her return to work.

The issue is that her NHS trust has a rule that states, "You must not use your professional status to promote causes that are not related to health."

This rule applies to everybody, and if it means anything it means you shouldn't be using your position in the NHS to promote your own particular religious beliefs.

That means, if you're a Muslim you can't promote Islam, if you're a Buddhist you can't promote Buddhism, and if you're an atheist you can't promote atheism.

If she had said, "do you want to borrow my copy of 'The God Delusion'", that would be equally "inoffensive", and equally against the rules.

Apparently Caroline Petrie thinks these rules do not apply to her.

Some of the commentators in the press apparently do not believe such a rule should exist, and there have been arguments for the explicit Christianization of the NHS.

So yes, this is absolutely a secularist issue, because we have an explicit campaign to exempt Christians from rules which should apply to everybody. If that's not a bread and butter secularist issue, I don't know what is.

Nurses should not offer to pray for patients, because doing so is a misuse of their position for the promotion of their religion.

If we let Caroline Petrie do it, then anyone can do it, and you turn the NHS into a religious battleground. Far more sensible to say, no, when you're working you keep your religious beliefs private.

But Petrie, apparently oblivious to the purpose and common sense of the rule, has said she intends to go on offering to pray for her patients. Which is where she stops being a "nice good nurse" and starts to look more like a Christian fundamentalist activist.

Dan