Because required return visits to my local hospital are on my schedule the situation of my local hospital has been on my mind and I've been ruminating thoughts about what a secular waiting area "ought" to be like. On my previous hospital visits (read it here and here) I've become aware that things as they currently stand just don't cut the fairness mustard when it comes to giving hospital patients and visitors the kind of needed "spiritual" support they may require.
As a non-theist, my comfort requirements in a hospital setting are easy to fulfill. Give me a cushy chair and a nice window view, perhaps a few news magazines and such, and I'll be good to go for a ten minute wait or a day-long vigil. On such occasions, I usually bring along my own reading materials anyhow. For theists, its likely a different case. They may find it necessary to consult a page or two of their personal favorite flavor of scripture in order to comfortably pass the time with less stress. No problem there, eh?
A Christian, for example, would probably appreciate having a handy Bible. A Muslim would prefer a Qu'ran. And that makes sense. But about the difference, I'll say in short that I see nohing wrong one way or the other.... until, that is, an obviously unfair imbalance is struck owing to attitudes and actions of the hospital.
The reality of what I've experienced at my local hospital, which happens to be a sharp bias for Christianity, is an epitome of imbalance. The spiritual "comforts and courtesies" as they're offered currently favor the Christian religion and specifically favor the Christian religion, Gideon-style.
What ought to be there instead..? I think the answer is quite simple. Variety. Choice. A bookcase.
If a small library of religious reading materials and a few non-religious selections as well, books reflecting the wide variety of world beliefs - Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Mormon, etc., etc. - were housed in a prominent bookcase in every waiting room area and on every hospital flood, who would be left to complain? Not even me and wouldn't that be nice?
I hope this kind of attitude of fairness catches on. Honestly... its a change that's long overdue. The Gideon are currently being given far to much in the way of special privilege. It's out of control and over the top. It's time to speak up and see this situation brought back to something more reasonable.
.Check out your local hospital - again.