1. Blanche Quizno says

    “…and once you’re fully anesthetized, we’re all going to ‘let go and let God’ and just start randomly chucking sharp objects at your [insert area targeted for surgery here]. Oh, and would you like to acceptjesuschristasyourpersonalsavior and join our church NOW, or wait until…later?”

  2. Cuttlefish says

    We had to physically remove the bible-jockeys from the hospital room when my brother was dying. Fuckers are clingy.

  3. AsqJames says

    I’ve never seen anyone join hands like that to pray. Not that I doubt it’s a thing, just different cultural background I guess. The thing is, from my perspective what it most looks like is a seance…an activity the people depicted probably think of as basically devil worship.

  4. lordshipmayhem says

    And once they’re done sharing infectious agents, I hope they wash their hands thoroughly.

    The superstitious ones don’t seem to buy into the Germ Theory of Disease.

  5. says

    When I was in the hospital earlier this year, I did get a chaplain offering to visit. He stuck his head in the door and said hello and did I want to pray, I said I was an atheist, no thanks. He just wished me a good recovery and went on his way.

    If my surgeon was into prayer circles, I’d rather not know, thanks ever so much.

  6. says

    I don’t remember it as I had a skull fracture and a TBI so amnesia, but I’m told that when the nun tried to reassure me about God and when the priest shoved my father aside to give me last rites despite my father’s protestations, I apparently tore them a polite new one and they sheepishly disappeared.

    Apparently I really grilled the poor nun, according to my dad.

    Wish I could remember it.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    Jafafa Hots
    It’s nice to know that a person can fight the good fight even with a cracked skull.

  8. iknklast says

    ’ve never seen anyone join hands like that to pray. Not that I doubt it’s a thing, just different cultural background I guess.

    Oh, it’s a thing all right. Imagine my surprise when I went to work in my first job as a biologist, where everyone had at least a master’s degree in Biology. I was traveling with my boss on a job, which meant we ate on the road. The first meal, he grabbed my hands, and the other guy with us grabbed my other hand, and before I knew it, heads were bowed, words were spoken, and our meal was blessed. I was horrified. No one asked me if I wanted my meal blessed, or wanted my hands held.

    My family is fundamentalist, hyper-Christian, but we never held hands for grace or any other prayer. We bowed our heads, mumbled a bit, and that was it. (We didn’t like each other enough to risk holding hands, though). My sister began the holding hands thing with her kids, and I was constantly being caught up in it. I finally began declining dinner invitations. I didn’t enjoy the dinners much anyway, my sister was a lousy cook, and all that praying didn’t make the food any better.

    Why can’t people realize how silly they look? Grown ups acting like they’re in Sunday School.

  9. chrislawson says

    That looks like be a prayer meeting but it could be a completely non-religious team-building exercise. Just because someone pulled a low-res jpg and slapped a stupid chain-mail-fodder message on it doesn’t say much about the attitudes of the people in the photo.

  10. Sastra says

    The people who gush over how wonderful it is to have more religion, more spirituality, more prayer in medicine never consider what this looks like to the nonbeliever. They talk about how grateful patients are when their doctor or nurse or anesthesiologist asks if they’d like to pray with them and don’t recognize that if your answer is ‘no’ then you’re going to feel threatened. Now what? Will they deliberately do a worse job than they would if you were someone who accepts God? Will they unconsciously do a worse job, expecting that the non-prayer doesn’t do as well without God’s comfort or assistance and hoping to confirm their bias? It puts people on the spot, but they only see the “good side.”

    Look at that prayer circle. What would it look like if there’s someone standing on the outside, refusing to hold hands. My, aren’t they grumpy?

    I recently got up the courage to call up a physician and complain about something he’d inadvertently done during an office visit which made me very uncomfortable. I had to see a special eye doctor to remove a sty on my eyelid, so we were both new to each other. As he was prepping me for the outpatient ‘surgery’ (it was a relatively minor snip), he commented on my necklace and asked what it meant. I was wearing the atheist symbol (it’s also my atavar) so I smiled and told him. Oh, really? He smiles back.

    So far so good.

    But then he very casually started to explain to me why it made so much sense that God exists, and why he believes, and how atheism just seems irrational. He’s laying his case out while he’s getting the instruments ready and adjusting my head into a sling and doing all the prep work. His attitude was friendly enough — but wtf? I had pretty good answers for all of his ‘reasons’ but gosh, somehow I didn’t feel like starting a theological debate with a stranger who was about to put a knife next to my eye. It just didn’t seem like the time or place. So I lay there tight lipped and silent and more than a little frustrated. It was, at the very least, unprofessional.

    After I explained all this over the phone the physician was very nice and apologized. He’s Jewish, fairly liberal, and apparently he thought the topic would RELAX me. I told him no, the existence of God is a little bit intense for polite chit-chat. I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to cause me pain to see if I would cry out to God — but I had to assess that. There are stories. Having to do that sort of thing makes atheists nervous.

    I’m assuming it’s not just me.

    And he hadn’t even asked me to pray. Unless you know there’s either going to be common ground or the matter is very minor, religion and politics should just stay off the list of casual banter in medicine.

  11. cubist says

    chrislawson @11, you could be right that the photo depicts a “completely non-religious team-building exercise”. But just how likely do you suppose that possibility is, in comparison to the possibility that yes, it really was the prayer-type exercise it sure as hell looks like it was? I mean, Catholics taking over hospitals is a real thing, you know?

  12. chigau (違う) says

    Sastra #12
    I think the Doc is not being totally honest about why he chose that moment for a theological discussion.

  13. theobromine says

    chigau @14: I don’t want to second guess Sastra’s experience, but I can see why a liberal Jew might honestly (if a bit thoughtlessly) consider that discussing theology with an atheist might be a welcome distraction from a medical procedure.

    Speaking of creepy medical treatment, The Revisionaries tells the story of Don McLeroy, engineer turned dentist who (when he’s not trying to get Jefferson out of and Calvin in to the curriculum) spouts creationism while filling cavities – shades of Marathon Man…

  14. Kaveh Mousavi says

    They’re wearing hospital gowns because they’re about to sacrifice someone and they don’t want blood on their clothes.

  15. opposablethumbs says

    I recently had this crap pulled on my at my own table by my own lifelong-atheist brother, and though I love him dearly I’m still pretty godsdamn angry with him. It was the first ever meeting with (and first ever visit to this country by) his then fiancée, now wife (he visits the country and stays with us once a year or so; this was the first visit since they got engaged). We wanted to make her feel as welcome as we could.

    My brother arrived a week before she did, and he never stopped to think that he could have asked us about the saying-grace bollocks before she came (not like he ever said grace in his life before, or even gave it a thought before she arrived). As it was, at the first meal for which she was present he sprang it on us with absolutely no warning, held out his hand to me and asked if we would “like” to join them in saying grace. Well yay, thank you so much brother for making us look rude to a guest at our own table. Thank you so very fucking much, and the answer is still the same – instant chorus of “no” from both of us, without commentary, and continuing with conversation like nothing happened while at the same time reeling with surprise.

    Part of me is still angry with him for being so incredibly thoughtless. We were making every effort to make his fiancée welcome, and that was his contribution?!? – and he has absolutely no idea, then or since, that he did something amiss.

  16. opposablethumbs says

    … sorry, that was slightly derail-y. But obviously in a situation like this, where you’re putting your health/life/pain receptors into somebody’s hands – well it would certainly freak me the fuck out. And it should be absolutely proscribed, as it obviously discriminates against – and potentially terrifies half to death – anyone who doesn’t happen to subscribe to the exact same flavour of superstitious bollocks as the medical team does.

    Who wants to be graphically reminded that they are in the out-group to their own medical care team? With no way of knowing just how fanatical they are about it? Of course they might be great surgeons etc., but just as in Sastra’s example – what if they/some of them subconsciously perform more poorly than they otherwise might have done, as per their expectations of outcome?

  17. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    “We’ve been doing this for 20 minutes and no Beetlejuice… maybe we should operate instead.”

  18. latsot says


    I had a very similar experience, with extra bonus creepiness.

    My sister is very Christian indeed. I’d describe her as a fundie. She has 3 kids. When she’s in the area she usually invites herself to our place. I don’t complain too much, even though we’ve never really got on (see above about being very Christian indeed). The first time she arrived after her kids were old enough to talk, we were sitting down for a meal we’d cooked and my sister suddenly and without warning led them all in prayer, literally speaking over a conversation we were in the middle of. I felt I could do nothing but start serving the food anyway and continue the conversation with my wife. I assume I was supposed to at least hang my head and pretend to pray, but I didn’t have it in me. I’m not sure how my wife reacted – she still has some vestiges of Christian guilt – but it certainly made her uncomfortable. It seemed every bit like an aggressive act.

    It didn’t end after the praying. One of the children said “God is good, isn’t he?” This was met with the most nauseatingly mawkish theological discussion I have ever heard (which is saying something) about why god is indeed good. It was like we – their hosts – were simply not there. The family talked amongst themselves for 10 minutes about the goodness of god, knowing full well that we’re atheists and me especially.

    I wouldn’t have minded in the least if they had wanted to quietly and without fuss say grace, but interrupting our conversation to do so then dominating the conversation afterwards, knowing we couldn’t participate, was beyond rude. Or rather, we could have participated, but the only way we could have done so would have seemed rude to our guests. That’s why it seemed like an aggressive act.

    Her husband’s family is creepy too. They live in Jordan and came over to the UK for the wedding. His brothers got on well with another of my nephews, 8ish at the time, and it came to light later that they had been preaching to him when nobody else was around and had given him a family bible as a present. I saw it. It was obviously a high-quality and well-loved object. An extraordinarily inappropriate gift for a young child they’d never met before and who had never (and by his account didn’t) express any interest. He said it felt as though they were trying to put him in their debt so he’d have to agree with them. Creepy.

    Weird fact: the wedding was held in my parent’s village (population 359ish). There were maybe 20 cars at that wedding, parked outside the church, Ours was not remarkable or parked remarkably. But it and it alone got egged! The (probably) one atheist car! Christian conspiracy!

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