Belated raging

Today I found out from my dad that when my mom was in the hospital recovering from a serious surgery to remove the tumors from her ovarian cancer, some evangelical Christians came into her room uninvited during a rare moment when my dad was away to try to convert her and ask if she’s heard the good word about her lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Is there anything more fucking reprehensible than preying on the vulnerable who are recovering from a near death experience and undergoing a battle with stage 4 cancer? It fucking disgusts me.

They should consider themselves damned lucky that my dad and I weren’t there, because we would have NOT been friendly atheists.



  1. sarahmoglia says

    A good friend of mine’s mother in law just died of cancer, and all she wanted was for her ashes to be scattered in the ocean where their family used to vacation, because it was her favorite place in the world. Then someone at her church told her that cremation was a sin & if she got cremated she wouldn’t go to Heaven. Apparently she also basically had to be super heavy anti-anxiety meds because she was SO terrified she was going to Hell that she would have night terrors & have delusions of being sent to hell for not going to church often enough while she was dealing with chemo.

    If someone can use religion to comfort themselves during rough times like this, I’m not going to bother them. But I think people need to realize that religion can be just as harmful during those rough times, too.

  2. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    At my mom’s funeral, the local preacher we’d never met MC’d. For the most part his lines were tolerably bland boilerplate, but I distinctly remember him casually saying “Jesus is the only way to heaven.”
    Then a couple days later, some folks stopped by the house and gave Dad pamphlet about ‘grieving’.
    A Watchtower publication.

  3. trina says

    Hey billy, go fuck yourself. With something sharp.
    Or go pick on pz, even.
    Or get a fucking clue.

  4. Alison Cummins says

    I would complain to the hospital. They just let these folks wander around harassing patients? Not cool.

  5. unbound says

    Definitely a disgusting group of people. Although I can share a story that might rank close.

    My oldest son (who was 11 at the time) was in the hospital for a brain abscess (although survival rates are very high, he had about a 50% chance of neurological deficit as a result). He was being pumped almost continually with 3 very strong anti-biotics. My wife and I took rotations watching him for the entire hospital stay, but my mother came down to watch him one night to give us a break. We went out to dinner to “celebrate” our anniversary, and when we came back my mother told me about the incident.

    While we were gone, a hospital administrator confronted my 11 year old son demanding to know how he was going to pay the $400 deductible. My mother (who is actually a very strong woman) was so dumbfounded by this woman that she didn’t even know what to say. I took care of it the next morning, but to this day I remain very angry at the astonishing lack of empathy and outright stupidity of the hospital administrator. It also remains my primary example as to why this for-profit approach to medical care is simply barbaric.

  6. says

    Wow, their every move oozes both cowardice and total mindless disregard for others. It really sounds like that lot not only sought out one of the most vulnerable patients, but lay in wait until she was apart from her family. They know exactly how sleazy they are, and how unwanted they are; and instead of changing their act, they choose to be more underhanded.

    A tiger trying to kill you is more honest than a god-botherer trying to “save” you.

  7. machintelligence says

    Is it possible to put a No Evangelizing sign on the door?
    It had never occurred to me that one might be necessary.


    Hey billy, go fuck yourself. With something sharp.

    Trina, please don’t do that. I agree that Billy’s behavior is ignorant and assholeish in the extreme. But that sort of response goes too far. It could be triggering to Billy or to others.


    Jen, this is a problem my friend’s mom had when she was in the hospital for cancer. Her mom kicked the evangelists out on their ear, but she shouldn’t have had to do that. She had enough on her mind.

  10. says

    My mother was in the hospital for the umpteenth time fighting cancer. A doctor that we had never met sat down, looked at her chart, and patted her leg saying “You poor poor woman. Just as Jesus suffered , so too you suffer.” WTF?

  11. Alison Cummins says

    No, nobody should have to do that. But I’m less upset with the evangelizers than I am with the hospital who apparently aren’t even trying to keep people safe from harassment. It’s one thing to opt-in to get a visit from the chaplain, but quite another to have to evict strangers — any strangers, evangelizers or not — from your room.

  12. Scr... Archivist says

    What Alison said.

    I haven’t been a visitor in a hospital for while, but don’t you have to be on a list approved by the patient in order to visit them? Or does it depend on certain factors? Can just anyone saunter in with a religious pitch?

    One thing that I would demand of hospitals is that evangelists must be invited by name to visit patients, and may visit only those patients who invite them in. Make it opt-in, rather than opt-out.

  13. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @nankay #15:

    A doctor that we had never met sat down, looked at her chart, and patted her leg saying “You poor poor woman. Just as Jesus suffered , so too you suffer.” WTF?

    I visited a Catholic hospital recently.

    Pictures of Mary in the halls. Big honkin’ crucifix behind the welcome desk; little ones on the wall in every room. You’d think a hospital might want to avoid all those corpse statues promising an afterlife. *roll*
    For theological dissonance, ambulances have a symbol of Asclepius, Greek god of medicine, who got in trouble for bringing dead people back to life.

  14. says

    I recently had the misfortune to be present throughout a very rambling, long, infuriating sermon at a supposedly very liberal Christian church. (Why I was stuck there is another story.) This was a substitute pastor whose regular job is Hospice chaplain. In this sermon she went on and on about her “counseling” of a patient who lacked faith in god. She carefully *asked* him first before proselytizing to him about her beliefs. First she established a trusting relationship wtih him. Then came the hard sell. She sounded so proud of herself as she told this horrendous story. Clearly, she thought that asking permission absolved her of the ethical problems of doing this to a dying man. Long story short, she had no idea what a horrible thing she was doing. It sounded from getting only her side of the story, that he argued with her a bit and then fell silent. She was very proud of herself. She felt vindicated as she shared this good news with the congregation.

    Even supposedly trained chaplains who claim they can offer comfort to anyone regardless of religious belief can end up doing this kind of thing–and then never see anything wrong with it.

  15. JCB says

    @Scr… Archivist: Visitor access is going to depend on the hospital. I’ve visited folks in three hospitals recently: Walter Reed (military hospital outside Washington DC, for anyone who doesn’t know), and two hospitals in my city. At Walter Reed, I had to tell the guard at the gate why I was there, but after that I could pretty much go wherever I wanted. At both of the local hospitals, I was able to walk right in and go to the room of the person I was visiting. Even when I was visiting someone in the ICU, the only restriction was on visiting hours.

  16. Reginald Selkirk says

    This will probably make your blood boil: Germany apes Ireland: two Catholic hospitals refuse to help rape victim

    … An emergency doctor who treated her sent her to a hospital for examination and for the collection of potential evidence. But she was turned away from the one Catholic hospital after another. They had both adopted policies banning doctors from conducing such procedures – because it would entail offering advice about abortion.

  17. says

    It’s disgusting, no doubt. But I think the hospital staff has way enough to do without trying to make sure that people only go into “authorized” places. And evangelists are no respecters of personal space, anyway.

    Just chalk it up to yet another reason to dislike religion.

    @Billy: Obviously, English is not your first language. You obviously don’t understand the meaning of the word “evidence”. An eyewitness account from someone who was the victim of a sexual assault is evidence. Happy to set you straight on that.

  18. Alison Cummins says

    I don’t think the point is that each room be guarded by a security agent who checks people’s names off a register of approved visitors.

    But if someone kicks an evangelizer out of their room, they should be escorted from the hospital and placed on a blacklist. Regulars will be recognized.

  19. says

    There are two hospitals in my neck of the woods. One is run by the Catholic Church (it’s by FAR the best hospital in the area). They have chaplaincy services on just about every floor, although the building itself is thankfully not burdened with all of the paraphernalia of Catholicism (the crosses, photos of the pope, etc.).

    The other hospital is run by the Seventh Day Adventists. They want evangelists in the rooms. Heck, on the way to the cafeteria the hallway offers representations of a series of Genesis bible stories — including the Ark and the Tower of Babel. They believe in that 100%. 6,000-year-old universe, instant creation with magic words, the whole megillah.

    Yes, it’s creepy. Very creepy. I stay away from that hospital if at all possible. The cafeteria also sucks! because they only just recently decided to add meat — and they have no idea whatsoever how to prepare it. Everything tastes a little like ass.

    Although they’re “public” buildings, they’re under no obligation whatsoever to keep church separate from their business.

  20. Kook Buster says

    for the mental case called “tim farley”

    yes, you have made “REAL ENEMIES”


    all brains no balls

    homo = atheist?


    how we won the James Randi Million Dollar Paranormal Prize


  21. MadHatter says

    I’m only guessing here, but as I was visited in my hospital room by a “volunteer” (she called herself that) who just wanted to pray with me (she was disappointed)…I rather assumed that the hospital knows they have these people wandering the halls.

    It was annoying, but they no one tried a second time so maybe these volunteers keep their own list?

  22. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    “But I’m less upset with the evangelizers than I am with the hospital who apparently aren’t even trying to keep people safe from harassment. It’s one thing to opt-in to get a visit from the chaplain, but quite another to have to evict strangers — any strangers, evangelizers or not — from your room.”

    Yes, and calling security to escort them all the way to the door is probably what they deserve.

    My dad had some over-enthusiastic loudly praying fundies booted from my room when I was recovering from a tonsillectomy. They tried to stay, claiming they were praying for the other person, but they were definitely praying that the “little girl and her father” would warm their hearts to Jesus … loudly.

    I was in a Catholic hospital for some minor surgery near Christmas in the early 1970s and because of the required prep combined with early surgery time I had to check in that evening. I was happily buzzed on my pain pills, startin to doze off when these strange melodic chants and a line of black-robed figures carrying candles came slowly down the hall past my room.

    EGAD! WTF!!!

    I told the hospital administrator later that warning people that the nuns would be roaming the halls singing carols in Latin would be a good idea, because to an atheist on drugs it was much too much like Rosemary’s Baby for comfort.

  23. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    Sounds like maybe they were waiting around for just the right moment to pounce, the predators.

  24. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    It’s disgusting, no doubt. But I think the hospital staff has way enough to do without trying to make sure that people only go into “authorized” places.

    Around here, you can’t even get into a hospital without a reason to be there and ID. You are issued a visitors photo badge. Further, it’s normal hospital behavior everywhere I’ve been to keep an eye on who is going where and looking for people who seem out-of-place. Plus security does it’s normal security things. So it is either bad oversight or granting of special privileges to religious weirdness on the part of hospitals allowing this to occur. Which is what I’d chalk it up to.

  25. Sean Boyd says

    My parents receive their medical care at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Seattle. It’s not uncommon to see Army chaplains trolling pre-op for lost souls. My mom’s had several surgeries performed there, and was thrilled to meet a chaplain of Polish descent (as she is herself) during one tour in pre-op. Even being a good Adventist, she was thrilled to meet a Catholic chaplain of Polish ancestry and was naturally happy to pray with him. (Maybe jebus was assisting in the gastrectomy being performed?) Sir Chaplain was taken aback when my response to his invitation to me to join this prayer was a cold “no.”

    This, fortunately, was for me not more than a minor annoyance. I also remember another time, sitting in the surgery waiting room at Harborview Medical Center (in Seattle) about eight years ago. My brother had been transferred there from a Catholic hospital (St. Joseph’s in Tacoma), because of a massive infection he’d developed in his arm as a result of using and sharing dirty needles (he was rather a conoisseur of various injectable substances.) It was the day before Thanksgiving, and the place was packed. I had no idea what the scope of the surgery was, only that he was in surgery. After several hours, a very kind surgeon came to speak to me. She told me that my brother’s arm and shoulder had been amputated, that the infection (that St Joseph’s hadn’t seemed to show much undue worry about, when I’d visited him previously) was flesh-eating bacteria (clostridial necrotizing fasciitis, if I remember correctly), and they were hoping they wouldn’t have to amputate more, since that would involve removing parts of his chest. And, as calmly and kindly as was humanly possible, she told me that his chances of survival were roughly 10 percent. After the surgeon left, a stranger approached me, and told me that she couldn’t help overhearing what the surgeon had told me, and that she’d be praying for me. Okay, what? First, my brother was the one dying, not me. Second, this person did not know me, and therefore had no idea whether or not I would find such a sentiment comforting.appropriate. Third, my brother was as atheist in his views as I was and am: he wouldn’t have wanted some random person’s prayer, to be sure.

    As it turns out, her prayers went for naught, as my brother died the next day during the surgery the surgeon had hoped to avoid. I find it not the least bit ironic that I felt more warmth and compassion at Harborview, from the surgeon who briefed me on the efforts they had made to attempt to spare my brother’s life, to the nurse in the isolation ward, who exuded calm and peace as my brother lay comatose, than I did at St. Joseph’s, where the staff on ward where my brother had been seemed to view him as a nuisance more than as a human being. I could go on about St. Joe’s but won’t. I’ve discovered it doesn’t help. :(

    I apologize for the length of the preceding rant. Tomorrow would have been my brother’s 39th birthday, and so, Jen, your story rings a lot of very familiar sounding bells for me. Disgust is my starting point when I hear stories like yours. Assholes, indeed.

  26. yoav says

    A few years ago at my parents town in Israel a kid killed in an accident while riding his bike on the street. The day after the funeral this asshole of a rabbi showed up, uninvited, at the family home set up a PA system and started telling the family, and anyone within a 2 mile radius, that the kid death was because the mother didn’t follow the jewish purity laws during her period and the father had stopped donating to the local synagogue, and while I think that violence is not a way to settle theological debate I can’t guarantee that, if it was my family, he would have got out of there alive.

  27. magistramarla says

    My mother-in-law was an agnostic. She would never claim to be an Atheist, but she often ranted about organized religion.
    My husband was very upset at his brother during Mom’s funeral service. He stood up and proclaimed that Mom had “accepted Jesus” before she died.
    I know that Mom would not have appreciated this at all. It has made me very aware that I need to write some very specific instructions for my end-of-life requests.

  28. Al Dente says

    Some years ago I was in the hospital for surgery. A guy came into the room and asked: “Have you found Jesus?” I couldn’t ignore such a classic straight line. “I didn’t know he was missing. Have you looked in the closet? Sometimes he crawls in there and falls asleep. If I see Jesus I’ll let him know you’re looking for him.” I then went back to reading my book.

  29. vinny says

    While waiting for outpatient surgery in Sloan Kettering in NYC a chaplain came in and asked “Would you like a prayer or good wishes?” We said good wishes, and she then briefly said a warm, sweet, god-free prayer. Kind of like someone’s grandma giving you a hug.

    Did we really need it? No. But we did get a smile out of it.

    The point is that there’s ways for the hospital to deal with ‘spiritual support’ in a way that is inclusive of different belief systems.

  30. says

    there is a ‘family room’ in most hospital floors- it is usually where bad news is delivered so the family can grieve out of sight of the public. I found some jack chick tracts inside the family room at a cancer hospital I was working at once. I was pissed. I stole em all from the room.

  31. says

    Jen, I have experienced this myself while laid up for 4 months after a motorcycle crash. I met every “Can I pray for you?” request with a polite, “No, but you can get me a drink of water” response. I do feel sorry for the weak and vulnerable who cannot exercise that position. We need to help them out all we can.

    Another thing that is growing here in the Southwest is ride along chaplains. They ride in police and sheriff cars with the law enforcement officers and proselytize to the burglars, battered women, homeless, drunks, and anyone else they come into contact with during the shift. I seriously doubt that I would ever find myself in the company of a law enforcement officer and have a chaplain trying to converse with me, but were that ever to happen, I still haven’t though of a snappy response. I’ll go work on that.

  32. thebookofdave says

    @rnilsson #35

    Missionaries can’t distinguish between vandals and interested seekers as the cause of missing tracts, and may be encouraged by their disappearance. Shredding or defacing them and leaving them on site sends a less ambiguous message.

    Note to Jen: one more Mabus popup to block.

  33. says

    This is the MO of fundies: prey on those who are at a weak spot in life. That is the only way for them to make converts. Prey on the helpless.

    They give out food, but only to reach you with their religious message. They comfort you, only to reach you with their message. They visit you in the hospital, but only to catch you with your guard down. Never mind the attempts to corrupt young minds with religious summer vacation schools or after-school religious programs. If you’re a college first-year student, there’s almost no avoiding them, because they will go after you there, too. That’s how I became one for 15 (mostly wasted) years of my life. (Disclaimer: yeah, I’m pretty fucking bitter about it.)

    It is disgusting, and borders on harassment. I think this is why I sucked at evangelism. I had respect for boundaries and other beliefs, even though I might disagree with those beliefs.

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