Reading Scripture to a Patient (from an Atheist)

  1. 0
    So I managed to break my own rule without thinking about it until halfway through. I have a resident who is a JW (Jehovah's Witness). He's tried to talk to me about god several times but I just brush it off. I've been DF'd (excommunicated for other religions) for about 21 years. Obviously I'm not going to tell this resident because it WILL affect care. Anyway, he couldn't find his glasses so he asked me if I could read his daily scripture. It's a small paragraph that is supposed to provide daily inspiration. Being nice I said, "Sure". Halfway through I realized what was happening. I used to do the same thing when I was a JW. Thinking that if I just planted the seed of god then the person would eventually accept Jesus. It didn't help that I was trying not to laugh the entire time I was reading it because it was full of so many logical fallacies. I'm not going to tell him I'm an Atheist either because he is a long term resident. Now I have to find a way to tell him the next time he asks, he will because I would have back in the day, that I will not read his daily scripture for him.
  2. 23 Comments so far...

  3. 14
    Why not read it? You don't have to believe it -- just do a decent reading of the words. I am also an atheist and would have no qualms whatsoever in reading a religious text for someone who couldn't read. I believe that as a nurse, it is my duty to provide such a service as long as it doesn't hurt anyone (including me). I don't see what the harm is -- and I see no reason to not to provide this service to the patient.

    It's like being a translater. Translaters don't have to agree with everything they translate. They are supposed to deliver the message as the original speaker/writer gave it -- without changing it or adding their own commentary.
    ChristaRN, dudette10, Spidey's mom, and 11 others like this.
  4. 0
    I see no difference between reading that and reading a listing of TV programming for the evening, if you don't take the words to heart. But if it bothers you that much, then simply, politely, refuse.
  5. 9
    For continuum of care, please don't just refuse, please discover another pathway for this patient to have his spiritual needs met.
  6. 4
    Quote from tewdles
    For continuum of care, please don't just refuse, please discover another pathway for this patient to have his spiritual needs met.
    You missed the point. The OP thought the patient was not simply asking to get a prayer read, but trying to prosletyze. He recognized it from previous experience.

    I, like the OP, would have no problem reading a few lines of prayer text to someone who had vision issues. I would not, however, do so if the purpose was purely evangelical.

    Evangelism is very important to many religions. Even so, that doesn't infer that a nurse has to be "evangelized" in order to fulfill a patient's spiritual needs.

    I use this example over and over: What if a Muslim patient kept requesting a Christian read prayers to them, with the stated goal of converting that Christian nurse to Islam? In that case, no one would say, "Don't refuse."
  7. 2
    Quote from MN-Nurse
    You missed the point. The OP thought the patient was not simply asking to get a prayer read, but trying to prosletyze. He recognized it from previous experience.

    I, like the OP, would have no problem reading a few lines of prayer text to someone who had vision issues. I would not, however, do so if the purpose was purely evangelical.

    Evangelism is very important to many religions. Even so, that doesn't infer that a nurse has to be "evangelized" in order to fulfill a patient's spiritual needs.

    I use this example over and over: What if a Muslim patient kept requesting a Christian read prayers to them, with the stated goal of converting that Christian nurse to Islam? In that case, no one would say, "Don't refuse."
    Thank you for getting it. It was obvious evangelizing as the resident has no vision issues. He is known to do this with other patients as well. The issue hasn't come up again.
  8. 0
    Just wondering...what about the situation made you think he was trying to proselytize to you? (I'm not being skeptical of your view of the situation...I'm just curious).

    I believe in God, I believe in Jesus. I do, however, have issues with several organized religions, and I am not a member of any religious group at present. None of that makes me qualified to provide a definitive answer to you, but I can offer an opinion. If a pt/resident wanted me to read a passage to them, I certainly would....unless I suspected from the get go that he/she was trying to convert me. If, during or after the fact, I realized that they were trying to proselytize, then, in the future, if they asked, I would politely say that I can't at this time, but I will send someone in who can (if, indeed, that person is willing to read to them).
  9. 3
    The patient never expressly stated that he wanted to convert you, so you don't really know, you are only suspecting this. I think I'd be sure to know the location of the glasses so I could say, or look Mr. Patient, here they are! Enjoy your scripture reading, see you later.

    I gotta admit, even if I suspected that someone was trying to convert me, I'd still read the passage. I'm an adult and I can decide for myself what I believe. My problem would be having enough time to be stopping and reading scripture.
    OCNRN63, Dixielee, and tewdles like this.
  10. 4
    Jesus Christ....This apparently is making you question your belief system otherwise you would not even give it a second thought.
    OCNRN63, HopefulLPN83, sauconyrunner, and 1 other like this.
  11. 1
    Quote from MN-Nurse
    You missed the point. The OP thought the patient was not simply asking to get a prayer read, but trying to prosletyze. He recognized it from previous experience.

    I, like the OP, would have no problem reading a few lines of prayer text to someone who had vision issues. I would not, however, do so if the purpose was purely evangelical.

    Evangelism is very important to many religions. Even so, that doesn't infer that a nurse has to be "evangelized" in order to fulfill a patient's spiritual needs.

    I use this example over and over: What if a Muslim patient kept requesting a Christian read prayers to them, with the stated goal of converting that Christian nurse to Islam? In that case, no one would say, "Don't refuse."
    Okay, I got what she thought. However, when a patient asks for scripture to be read to them it is not fair for us to assume "why" they might be asking that. The fact that JWs may use scripture reading to "convert" unsuspecting persons does not apply here.

    First, you are not unsuspecting, so no harm no foul.
    Second, reading scripture is not EXCLUSIVELY used for evangelical purposes. People of faith desire to read scripture for the reassurances etc.
    Third, without other evidence that this was an attempt to "convert" you, it is assumed that he had ulterior motives besides his own spiritual needs.
    Fourth, if the scripture reading is disturbing or unsettling for you it would be in the better interest of the patient to ask another staffer or a volunteer to provide this for the patient. It is not the best option to determine that it is for evangelical reasons only and then dismiss it.

    Just my professional opinion based on many years of nursing the whole person and not just the medical aspects of their health.
    Last edit by tewdles on May 10, '12 : Reason: clarification
    sauconyrunner likes this.


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