Reading Scripture to a Patient (from an Atheist) | allnurses

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. Visit  julianp profile page

    About julianp

    Joined Feb '12; Posts: 20; Likes: 41.

    23 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  llg profile page
    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. Visit  caliotter3 profile page
    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. Visit  tewdles profile page
    9
    For continuum of care, please don't just refuse, please discover another pathway for this patient to have his spiritual needs met.
  6. Visit  MN-Nurse profile page
    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. Visit  julianp profile page
    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. Visit  psu_213 profile page
    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. Visit  sauconyrunner profile page
    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. Visit  billyboblewis profile page
    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. Visit  tewdles profile page
    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.
  12. Visit  NightOwl0624 profile page
    3
    Personally, I am so tired of all of the cultural stuff that is shoved down our throats. I had to take a semester class in school about the importance of transcultural nursing. At work, I have to do all kinds of things for people that are different cultures and religions from mine, and I must act respectful of them. Muslim women not wanting men to do their care. Jewish people not wanting to "work" on the Sabbath. Finding interpreters to ensure those that never bothered to learn English get good medical care in an English-speaking country. Making sure everyone gets their correct diets (Kosher! Halal! Vegitarian! No meat on Friday!). Watching people of certain cultures torture their terminal/elderly family because it is not in their culture to accept "DNR". It is overwhelming.

    BUT I do it, and don't mind, because I respect the diversity of humankind. I don't laugh at the beliefs of others, even when I really don't understand. (Even willing to admit that MY belief system may be strange or incorrect to others!)

    Even if the guy was trying to convert you (and how do you know this if you have never discussed your religious beliefs with him?), reading a measly paragraph does not sound like such a big deal to me.
    tenjuna, HopefulLPN83, and kabfighter like this.
  13. Visit  julianp profile page
    3
    There is past history from this patient trying to just "talk about jehovah" with me. Having grown up JW I full well know how the religion operates. Being raised in a cult can give you a unique perspective. As I already stated the issue hasn't come up again. That may be because I read it like I was reading the Hobbit; only with less interest. I guess I should have prefaced my story with the past history as well.

    As for Michigangirl, I find humanity fascinating. Religion included. I don't particularly mind working around a patients beliefs because they are already here in a vulnerable state. Employees are a different thing altogether. I compare a nurse who gets Sundays off because of 'church' to be no different than the smokers who want longer and more often breaks because they smoke.
  14. Visit  psu_213 profile page
    0
    Quote from Michigangirl
    Even if the guy was trying to convert you (and how do you know this if you have never discussed your religious beliefs with him?), reading a measly paragraph does not sound like such a big deal to me.
    There was a situation near my community recently of a holiday nativity scene that was set up in front of city hall. A group of atheists protested the set up being on government property. Now I don't quite understand how this nativity scene threatens the beliefs of the atheists (or any other non-Christian group). However, what gives me the authority to say what they should or should not find offensive? Perhaps they were just protesting to make a stink. On the other hand, they might have been protesting because they were deeply offended by this display. It have no right to say what was their true motive for protesting. In the same way, I don't think you have the right to say that it was or was not a big deal for the OP to read a religious passage knowing the attempt to convert her.


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