A Bible in the Doctor’s Office

Reader Kim sent this email:

I work as an adult case manager and while I was out accompanying two separate clients to office visits (one doctor and one dental) I came across these. It is completely unprofessional for them to have ANY kind of religious material in the waiting area and if I wasn’t there in a professional capacity I would have stated so. For the sake of my job and making nice, I said nothing but quickly snapped these pictures.

(I added red arrows… because, you know, why not?)

I’m not sure what the purpose of having those in the office would be. If anything, it doesn’t strike me as a business-savvy move, since it might alienate potential clients. Then again, maybe it’s like a business card for Christians — “Come to me! You’ll feel like Jesus is operating on you!”

What would you do in this situation if you were the patient?

Let’s assume the doctor and dentist aren’t proselytizing while they work on you because that’s a separate issue.

To those who think this is a non-issue, I’d also ask: Would you feel the same way if you saw a Koran in the office?

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/dartigen Dartigen

    I wouldn’t really care – in hospitals, at least, I think copies of religious books should be available to those who want to read them (though perhaps not out where they can be defaced or stolen). Hospitals aren’t always places where you get good news, and if it makes people feel better and be calmer than it can stay there. (I usually have my iPod on when in a waiting room, but TBH half the time the Bible would probably be a better read than the magazines. If you absolutely have to have reading material there, at least have something half-decent, like a couple of newspapers or TIME or anything but more car mags and pathetic gossip rags.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1607022278 Anonymous

      Pathetic gossip rags > incoherent, boring, outdated babble.

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    There was a bible in the physio’s office when I went for my health check for my new job, which was a little odd

  • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

    Wouldn’t bother me, to be honest

  • TheAbominableDavid

    Speaking as an atheist, I really don’t see the big deal. Quite frankly, if I’m faced with a choice between reading a Bible and reading People magazine, I’ll go with the Bible every time.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cartman86 Brice Gilbert

    Bothers me about as much as seeing a bible anywhere else. Which is to say a tiny bit, but not enough to ever mention it really to anybody. The tiny bit though is really just a gut reaction to seeing something I dislike. It doesn’t mean I think the doctor is going to be an idiot. There are people who are going to visit the doctor and might want a bible. I get that. If I personally ran a practice I wouldn’t provide one, but that’s me. The doctor himself proselytizing is another issue of course

    • http://www.facebook.com/Kristenmomof3 Kristen Kramer

      That happened the last time I went to the doctor and saw the new doctor at the practice.

  • http://twitter.com/JMRooker JM Rooker

    A Bible in a doctors waiting room next to the magazines bothers someone? Seriously?

    If there were magazines for homeopathy, chiropractic, naturopathy or any of that rubbish in a doctors office, THAT would be worth getting worked up about. But this? Give me a break.

  • Anonymous

    Chick tracts would be proselytizing, having a Bible around just seems boring at worst.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Speaking of, on two recent visits to my doctor’s office, I found Chick tracts in the waiting room. I grabbed them, for shits and giggles — I’m assuming staff was unaware of their presence.

    • Laurie

      I had never heard of a chick tract before reading this post – fascinating.

  • Amy

    Neither a bible nor a Koran would bother me – I’m pretty live and let live.

  • David

    I really don’t care. As long as it is private practice. Unprofessional, maybe. In fact, probably. I think I wouldn’t mention my “denomination.” Don’t piss off your waitperson before they serve you. You know.

  • Basementmatt

    You’ve got to admit: the magazines are probably older than that bible.

  • Cuttlefish

    As there is clearly a choice of *other* bad reading material, I have no problem with the bible being there, nor would I have a problem with a Koran, or book of Mormon, or Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  If, however, it was the *only* available reading material, that would be quite different.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EAIHLUU3JSTIB3D2OWHGYN5PHA Ingen

    Unprofessional, yes. Offensive? Not really…
    I wouldn’t have said anything. There’s enough real issues to be offended by. If we complain about insignificant things, people will stop listening.

  • Robert Crompton

    Doesn’t bother me greatly. I see wide cross-section of titles in waiting rooms and often wonder who has left what. Yachting Monthly, Country Life, Celeb Gossip Glossy, and so on. I guess completely inappropriate stuff gets weeded out eventually but very often that’s not before it all comes to look like a coffee table serving as a waste bin.

  • Praedico

    Really wouldn’t bother me, whether it was the Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, or the Book of the Dead (in fact, I’d probably read the Book of the Dead). But then, I’m British, and we really don’t get the constant proselytizing and crappy treatment that atheists are likely to receive in the US. Here, atheists are just as electable as the next person and devoutly religious people are more likely to be giggled at than anything else.
    However, I can see why someone surrounded by pushy theists would become more sensitive to things like this.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I work with men who have brain injuries and one of their dentists is Muslim and has Islamic propaganda in her office. It’s stupid, and I would never go there myself (same if there was Christian or Hindu Sky Fairy books at a doctor’s office). However, my job is to assist the client, and not to interfere with my personal feelings on the matter.

  • Jeni

    I live in Texas and see this ALL the time. My child picked up a bibble at the dentist’s office. My response was, “put that [filth] down!” He also had religious xmas music playing. I jokingly said something about being sick of that kind of music (twas the season) and was told it was from an outside service and they didn’t choose, but they were even more tired of it since it played over and over. I’ve also been to two different gyns who played religious xtian music non-stop. I do think it’s a savvy business move around here — the safe bet is that most of the community would be happier going to a “good xtian doctor.”

    • Anonymous

      I live in Alabama, and it’s the same here, no surprise. Every doctor’s office I go to has a bible, even if other reading material is scant or nonexistent. I would be pleasantly surprised NOT to see a bible. There is a bible in the waiting room at the car service place. It is annoying as all getout, but ubiquitous. I keep thinking of leaving a copy of TGD, but it would probably be discarded.

      • Cheryl

        Also stuck in Alabama and work in the healthcare industry.  Most often these publications/subscriptions are provided for free to physicians and hospitals.

      • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

        There are two Indian doctors sharing a building in Southwest Virginia (both Hindu; I asked) with Gideon Bibles in their waiting room.  One of them said he had a patient who brought one in and left it, and after he threw it away (I LOVED this doctor!) it showed up again after that patient’s next appointment.

        When you’re dealing with stubborn old Southern women all day, it’s best just to let them have what they want if it hurts no one else.  Otherwise they’ll never shut up.

        I’m pretty sure we’ll see a decrease in this type of pandering to the super-religious octogenarians once my generation’s grandparents finish dying off. The religious people of my generation have other things to obsess over… (Thank MTV for distracting the nation’s idiots with Jersey Shore, etc.!)

        • Ben Larson

          How funny!  I’m a 55 year old atheist and I keep telling my kids “things will start to improve here on planet Earth once a bunch of people my age and older die off and take many of their silly superstitions and prejudices to the grave with them.

        • KDM

          Oh, SW VA! SW VA was my first move to the south from New England. Definitely an insane culture shock, almost humorous from a non-religious perspective. There is something very “special” about that place.

    • michelle

      I’m guessing that this is probably true for most of the bible belt.  I am from Arkansas, and I can’t think of a single Doctor, Dentist, Hospital, OB-GYN that I have ever been to that DIDN”T have at least one copy of a Gideon’s bible and a children’s story book bible.    

      • Douglas Kirk

        It’s not just the Bible Belt.  Here in Michigan I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doctor’s or dentist’s office without a bible in it

  • Bennicke

    I would not mind if there was a Koran in the office. If it was my office, I would ensure that if there wa a bible there would also be a Koran, just so it would look more ‘objective,’ know what I’m saying? Maybe a copy of the Illiad & the Oddessy (Fagles translation, not the public domain trans) too.

    I mean, there probably should be no literature at all in doctors offices. Not very hygienic. People can bring their own gossip magazines.

  • Santiago

    It wouldn’t bother me. In fact, having Christian/religious propaganda would be more entertaining to read than ancient gossip magazines (seriously, do no dentists have subscriptions to National Geographic?). I think part of what makes this not a big deal is the fact that it’s still the choice of the people waiting whether they actually read the damn things. I mean, is simply *making available* stuff like this really an act of proselytising? You still have to pick the thing up and choose to read it. If we were talking about, say, the dentist putting a TV with an endless loop of Ken Ham lectures or something THEN I’d have a problem with it.

  • Tom

    I do think it’s unprofessional to have this propaganda in the office. I won’t say anything about the books, but I will say something about the christian music though. I can’t tolerate the waist deep bs.

    The problem around here in Central Florida is almost every Clinic and Hospital is affiliated with Florida Hospital which is apart of the Seventh Day Adventists. Every one of Florida Hospital’s hospitals and office buildings have pictures of Jesus and his “healings”

  • Stephen P

    Sometimes people who were raised religiously find comfort in their holy book before seeing the results of a test or going into an operation.  Besides, hospitals are private institutions. Now, if we had something reasonable, like public healthcare for all, funded by taxes on the rich, that might be something different.

  • http://trepto.myopenid.com/ trepto

    While I think it’s a doctor’s right to decide whether they should make religious texts for adults available in their offices, I do tend to avoid such offices because of the implications of their displaying such texts. The child-oriented book in the second picture I have a bit more of a problem with, though that series was my first exposure to the bible via a dentist and I remember being more confused than anything else; they seemed to be aimed at children who were already at least vaguely familiar with the stories contained and just wanted to look at some pretty, faith-affirming pictures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kristenmomof3 Kristen Kramer

    Here, in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, it seems like there are bibles and christian children’s books and magazines in all Doctor and Dentist offices. They seem to assume that everyone in this area is christian and goes to church. The last time I was at the doctor for my daughter to get her shot for school, the new doctor at the office started talking about her church and the things that they are doing. It seems people just assume here that everyone is christian.

    • Parse

      Of course, being Lancaster, there’s bloody little else to do besides doing stuff with churches.   It drives me mad, too.

  • Nope

    I see it all the time.  Like others have said, it bothers me as much as seeing something I don’t like anywhere does.  As long as the doctors and staff aren’t pushing it on me, I don’t care. If two offices/doctors were identical, and one prominently displayed religious material and one didn’t, I’d choose the later, of course.  But it’s not a big deal.

  • Miss Poppy

    I went to the Glendale Memorial Hospital Emergency Room and they have two flat screen TVs on opposing walls. One was on a sports station and silent, the other on Joyce Meyers Ministry and blasting. So Joyce was up there speaking in tongues and praising Jesus.

    I went to the window and asked the guy to change the station. He said he’d  have to get the janitor and it would take some time. About 20 minutes later I went back and said that forcing me to listen to that was a violation of my civil rights. He stepped into the room and changed the station.

    Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, CA.

  • Pixie

    Neither the Bible nor the Koran would bother me.  It might make me raise an eyebrow at most, but I can see why some patients might find comfort in having those available to them. 

  • Anonymous

    I live in Pennsylvania and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a doctor’s office without a bible and sometimes some Christian children’s books. I just rolled my eyes about it and assumed it was pretty universal.

  • Tom

    Depends whether the staff chose books based on the likelihood of their clientele actually wanting to read them whilst waiting (And I doubt this has ever happened anywhere.  I’ve never seen waiting room reading matter yet that wasn’t utter pabulum, even before it was years out of date – are they trying to save on anaesthetic or something?), or because they specifically wanted their clients to read them.  It’s a bit like the difference between merely including religious books in a school library, as a representative section of world literature, and making them the only kind of book available in the library.

    In the absence of some evidence of some kind of mechanism for doing so, e.g. a questionaire asking clients what kind of reading material would be most likely to actually serve its purpose of keeping them from dying of boredom in the waiting room,  I’d tend to suspect it wasn’t chosen with the patients’ preferences foremost in mind, regardless of whatever other rationale there may have been.

    Of course, if you’re in a state-run medical institution with no money to spare, there’s a good chance things like waiting room books and toys were scrounged together from donations anyway, in which case the choice of material is somewhat out of the administration’s hands.

  • Twirlgrl

    Chances are the doctor did not put it there.  I’ve worked in several offices and we always had people ‘donating’ Bibles to the waiting room.  We never got rid of them because we wanted all patients to have something they enjoyed reading while they were there and thought someone might appreciate it.

    • elaine

      I have to go to my hospital frequenty .I did find a bible on the table mixed with other magazines, so I put one of my leaflets showing how evil some of the bible is also I leave the Freethinker amongst the magazines . On my last visit after a couple of weeks the leaflet I left in the bible was still there.We spend 30 million a year in UK of hospital chaplaincy paid by the taxpayer. This could pay for more beds and nurses. I have nothing against people needing faith but I would much rather have a nurse looking after me that a Chaplain.Let the Church pay not us.

  • Greg

    It doesn’t really bother me, but in the UK we don’t have to put up with the crap that atheists in other countries do. The Koran wouldn’t bother me much either.

    Having said that, it may just be their status as religions that causes me to not care too much. I mean, there is probably less hate contained in some of the fringe political groups everybody hates, and yet I might object more to some BNP propaganda than I would the Bible.

    Ironic, really, I guess. At least, it is when you consider that nothing as hate filled and immoral as the concept of (say) Hell is mentioned in the BNP propaganda.

    Maybe if I lived in a society where Christianity was taken more seriously, I would care more.

  • Anonymous

    I would simply pass it up as I would a Women’s World or Highlights.  Sure, I may have read them at one time or another (when married if my ex- said “look at this”, or when I was 7, respectively), but I skip them now.

  • Kara B

    Part of the whole problem is that we refuse to accept that everyone lives differently. How sad would it be if we were all the same? I’m not a believer, but I don’t force or talk to others who believe trying to change their minds. I really could care less. Religion doesn’t bother me as much as cataloging people based on looks, money, race, sexual preference, religious preference, etc. If it were the Ku Klux Klan monthly, I would be more upset or Asian mail order brides, those are really crimes against humanity. Might as well be annoyed if you see a Boy Scout magazine there, religious organization that asks kids to be prepared and be upstanding citizens and go outside and do stuff. If we take offense to people believing in gods so much, where do people who don’t believe draw the line? The tooth fairy, Santa Clause? How about being a vegan? Meat eating is pretty offensive, but to me so is being a vegan. I like things mutilated and flame broiled.  omg.. run, this person is a moron and an animal killer.
    To be honest, I’m actually pretty tired of both sides of this argument. I know, I know, remove religion or it will destroy us and bad stuff will happen like wars and crap. You give humanity too little credit. Everyone knows people don’t need religion to kill and oppress each other. Hell, they don’t even need religion to ostracize and bully people, I’ve found non believers to be quite adept wielding those swords. It would be nice to live in a world where we could just be who we are and take care of each other anyway, just sayin

    • Parse

      Kara,
      At risk of delving into SIWOTI Syndrome, the problem for most people is the Christian privilege being shown here.   How many people who wouldn’t think twice about there being a copy of “My Bible Friend” would flip their lid if there was only a copy of “My Koran Friend”?  How long would an unattended copy of “The God Delusion” last in a waiting room? 
      You claim that it’s not that big a deal, that there are worse and more offensive things, and we should be grateful that it’s only a Bible.  Well, have you ever seen a waiting room with the things you mentioned?  And besides, the existence of larger problems doesn’t mean that we should ignore the smaller problems, which is what you’re asking us to do.  If your local police are investigating a murder, you’d still like them to file a report if your car gets broken into.  I’m fine with you thinking that this sort of activity isn’t a big deal – but like you said, everyone lives differently, and for some of us this is an issue large enough to address.

      Also, you said, “To be honest, I’m actually pretty tired of both sides of this argument. I know, I know, remove religion or it will destroy us and bad stuff will happen like wars and crap.”  As far as I can see, you’re the only one bringing up this argument (though if I’m wrong, please show me.  I like being proved wrong; it means I learned something.  *grin*).  If you’re tired of it, nobody’s forcing you to read this blog, its comments, or leave 250-word comments of your own.  Your escape is as close as your browser’s little red ‘x’.

      Like you, I’d like to live and let live.  For me, that means not being told that I need to accept the pervasive presence of Christianity while any mention of my beliefs – even in context – is forcing it on others.  I know you don’t mean it like this, but I hear the same arguments you’re making come from those who think “live and let live” means “sit down, shut up, and accept things the way they are.”

      • Kara B

        Nah, I just like reading the blogs. My feeling is that most people are sick of, for lack of a better word, ‘fighting’ about religion. I think having crap to read in the waiting room is a bad sign you’ll be spending a lot of time waiting. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could just walk in and be seen in a timely manner? Not to nail myself to a cross, but I almost feel like now I shouldn’t even have a thought if it isn’t the right one and I am not sure what the right one is anymore. There is no middle ground & sometimes it seems like there is no friendly ground. you know what would be awesome? If the writer felt so confident her views that she stood up in defense of them in spite of her employment situation. I literally feel like a jackass for my long winded comment. I was just sharing my exhaustion and possibly my ignorance to the non believers plight. Maybe I am just mad, I don’t know, but I’m plenty sure I don’t know jack about any of it. On the christian side, I’m morally reprehensible and an outcast and over in the murky waters of non belief…well I really haven’t found a place. It’s ok though. I’m still learning and like you I like to learn, hopefully by not always being wrong :)
        Thanks for the feedback.

        PS – lol @ SIWOTI

      • Rich Wilson

        Thanks, I never knew there was a name for my condition!
        Maybe now that I can identify it I can get help!

      • BanterBri

        Once again there are people bringing around these bible story, not the whole bible.  You should have at leased glanced at the inside, never judge a book by its cover.  Perhaps someone should publish a book or a series of books called kids stories from the Koran with illustrations and offer some free samples to the Doctor’s office, The Hair Salon, Dentist and so on.  This is probably a great opportunity for someone to feel a need.   Maybe somebody should right a book called kids theology stories from several religions.  A series of short stories.  This would be more inclusive and balanced.  However there would always be somebody who felt left out.

        • BanterBri

          Once again there are people bringing these bible stories, not the whole bible, but children’s stories.  You should have at least glanced inside and never judge a book by its cover.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ELBGCUBPREUUO6QMO5VBYYKY7M John

    I’ve never seen a doctor’s office without a Bible, not to mention those blue books with children’s bible stories in them. Also, I’ve never stayed in hotel/motel that didn’t have a Bible in it. They can’t make me read it. Can’t you think of something more important to worry about? What do you want us to do, burn them? I assume they are donated. If they really bother you, start a nonprofit to donate “The God Delusion” to motels and doctors. Most will be thrown away, of course, but a few might be read.

    • Jude

      In Utah, they don’t have Bibles in motel rooms–they have Books of Mormon.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_55E5P5YY7Q5JS6OXAP7HVATLHY NORMAN C

      When I go to a doctor’s office I bring a copy of Freethought Today ,The Humanist or Church and State and” forget” to take them with me.:)

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    This is a non-issue. Private business can have whatever reading material they choose available for their clients. People magazine with it’s cult of celebrity or some fashion mag propagating unrealistic body images seems more offensive to me.

  • http://twitter.com/thedarkrabbit Rabbit

    My doctor has a bible in the waiting room… I have no problem with it. People need to lighten up.

  • http://www.nowhere-fast.net Tom

    My concern for 1st Amendment rights trumps my atheism, so I’m good with the owner of a private business presenting whatever they like in their own premises, so long as they stay within the law.

    I think the real question isn’t how we would feel about a Koran vs a Bible, but how theists would feel about it.

    This is how I think it would break down:

    1) Only Bible: No problem with most people except for we atheists who would sigh heavily and hope that the doctor’s superstitions don’t trump his or her medical training.

    2) Bible and Koran: We atheists would probably be surprised at this one, and would go about our day.  Others would probably be OK with it, but there would be some grumblings/discontent

    3) Only Koran: “Tonight, on Fox: is your doctor trying to turn your child into a terrorist?”

    4) No Religious Texts: No problem.  See how easy that is?

    • Bteel

      It is a bible story for kids.  It is not being forced on anyone.  If you do not like the material do not read it.  Celebrate Diversity.  If the doctor was wearing a cross would that be a problem.  Seems to me that a lot of people are entitled to their religious or non-religious viewpoint.   One should read all religious texts, non-religious doctrines and gain a wider perspective.  Practice Tolerance!

  • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

    It’s a non-issue.  Both my GP and my dentist have had Bibles in their waiting rooms for years.  When I have an especially long wait, I usually pick one up and flip around the Old Testament for a while.

    Putting Bibles in public places only increases the chance that a young religious person will pick it up and read some passages on her own, without being told which parts to read or how to interpret them, and that could be her first step on the road to rational thought.  I think it would be great if Bibles were practically always within arm’s reach in public.  We’ve already seen that the group with the greatest knowledge of the Bible in the US are those who are skeptical of its contents, so I would say that any rise in Biblical literacy would be a good thing for us non-religious folk.

    As for Korans, I would be equally thrilled.  Anything that encourages people to learn about and compare different religions can only do good things for us.

    “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov

  • http://reedbraden.com Reed Braden

    It’s a non-issue.  Both my GP and my dentist have had Bibles in their waiting rooms for years.  When I have an especially long wait, I usually pick one up and flip around the Old Testament for a while.

    Putting Bibles in public places only increases the chance that a young religious person will pick it up and read some passages on her own, without being told which parts to read or how to interpret them, and that could be her first step on the road to rational thought.  I think it would be great if Bibles were practically always within arm’s reach in public.  We’ve already seen that the group with the greatest knowledge of the Bible in the US are those who are skeptical of its contents, so I would say that any rise in Biblical literacy would be a good thing for us non-religious folk.

    As for Korans, I would be equally thrilled.  Anything that encourages people to learn about and compare different religions can only do good things for us.

    “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov

  • http://twitter.com/lylasalwaysme Amanda Parks

    Where I live in North Central Pennsylvania (3ish hours north of Lancaster) there have always been bibles or other church-y things in medical offices. It’s also quite common to see wall hangings with a Psalm or Proverb on them, or even a prayer of some sort. Many medical groups maintain affiliations with Christian support groups, and it’s not terribly surprising to either be asked in person or on a questionnaire if staff members can pray for you. After 26 years I barely even blink at such things. It’s a rather similar atmosphere in Billings, Montana where I lived for roughly four years. There’s a pregnancy clinic that operates free of charge, but as it’s funded entirely by local churches and personal donations you pretty much have to sit through a religiously inclined anti-abortion plea that barely lasts a minute. You’re given a pamphlet or two on accepting Jesus and asked about prayer. And they reserve the right to refuse you service if you want an abortion. I’ve never seen anything wrong with having a bible there. In both areas the majority of the locals are moderately to extremely Christian and, quite often, so are the doctors. The book lays on a table next to ‘Teen Mom’, Family Circle, and Reader’s Digest- other titles I don’t read. No one is preaching and trying to convert me. The doctor’s office isn’t run by the government so separation of church and state doesn’t apply. The book just sits there. I’ve never thought of it as propaganda because it is as easy to ignore as a mystery novel. I glance at it for a second along with everything else lying on the table and move on with my thoughts. C’est la vie.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

      Oi, what’s wrong with Reader’s Digest? I grew up reading it, and still have an odd fondness for it — especially the word quizzes, I looove the word quizzes.

  • Rtucker17

    Yes, I would, and have.
    Private business, they can do what they like.
    Grow the he’ll up.
    I don’t like religion, I read bibles of all kinds. They are funny and fascinating mythology. Private business, personal matter.

  • B Rabbit

    It is a private business, they can do what they want. Complete non-issue.

  • Fredwords

    I’ve been seeing this sort of thing for so many years that I’ve long taken a different tack. Whenever I go to a doctor who has this sort of thing in the waiting room, I just make it a point to bring a spare copy of the Humanist magazine with me and leave it behind, mixed in casually with the other magazines. And back in the 1990s, when I was editor of the Humanist, I would donate our leftovers to hospitals and such. They were gratefully accepted. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2YKNJBKUJEL7IN6HROUXSNCAY david

    I appreciate it when I see a Bible in a business office.  It tells me the business owner is not ashamed of who he or she is, and not ashamed of Who they belong to.  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • Coyotenose

      I’m sorry, but linking a site loaded with such poor reasoning and demands for unearned credibility for its claims is not going to convince anyone here.

      • Rich Wilson

        Why apologize?

        • pureone

          that’s a polite “i’m sorry”. As in,” I’m sorry to bother you, but you are standing on my foot.”

    • http://brielle.sosdg.org Brielle

      But would you be saying the same thing if you found say, the Quran, Hindu Tantras, or even a booklet talking about the FSM?

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

        Now those, I’d probably pick up and read out of sheer curiosity!

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    Not only did my ex-doctor (in GA) have bibles, et all,  he also had signs up informing his patients that he would tell them about Jesus if they were interested (and some religious pictures &  sculptures in the waiting room).  He never brought it up to me, so I guess he was true to his word that he would only talk about religion if the patient expressed interest.  I was more annoyed that he did not take Medicare/Medicaid clients.  Seemed very unxtian to me. He was not a very competent doctor so I found someone else after a few years.
    My dentist, until he retired, was a fellow member of my astronomy club. His offfice was filled with Hubble photos, pictures of his telescope, astronomy books & magazines  (along with the usual mags)  and a beautiful sculpture of Saturn made in Pyrex. The guy who bought his practice has those drecky “inspirational” posters. I really miss sitting in the chair and staring at a huge poster of the Andromeda Galaxy while he worked on my teeth.

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

      My former doctor (he is now retired) also had an office filled with Hubble photos and astronomy magazines.  His son is an astronaut who has logged more than 4,000 hours in space.  My doctor never wanted to talk about the Bible or God, but he did occasionally blurt out, “My son’s on Mir right now,” during exams.

  • bigjohn756

    A Bible in the doctor’s office here in the South is expected. What surprised and disheartened me was the doctor and nurse praying for success before performing minor surgery on me. They held hands but when I didn’t join them the nurse put her hand on my shoulder…to complete the circuit I guess. I also had a colonoscopy to rousing old time gospel music from a boom box…the doctors choice. 

  • http://twitter.com/summerseale Summer Seale

    I don’t think it counts as being offensive.

    Sometimes, reading fantasy in that setting can be nice as an escapist sort of thing to do.

    Oh wait! You mean…people that that stuff *seriously*??? =D

    OMG..you’re kidding me right? Are they that stupid? Wait…let’s put some Robert Jordan next to it and see if they think that’s real too! *giggles*

  • Anonymous

    I really don’t see the problem here.  It’s a private business, so they can put what they want out.  Bible, Koran, Chick tracts, Bhagavad Gita, Book of Mormon, whatever… I might think twice about going there, but I certainly wouldn’t put up a stink about this.

    Please, let’s focus on keeping religion out of our public spaces and worry less about keeping it out of private businesses.  It makes us look bad when we say that’s all we want and then turn around and complain about this type of stuff.

    Now if they asked me to sign a statement of faith or tried to actively proselytize to me while I’m there, then I’d have a problem.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Chusid/100000217297542 Ron Chusid

    I often find religious publications sitting in my waiting room as others leave them. They are removed when discovered.

    There are also far worse problems than religious material sitting around. Living in a very conservative area, there are doctors who routinely want to pray with patients.

  • cipher

    It is completely unprofessional for them to have ANY kind of religious material in the waiting are

    Ridiculous statement. It’s a private practice; they can do as they please. If talking to atheists online has taught me anything, it’s that they can be as subjective as Christians.

    Would you feel the same way if you saw a Koran in the office?

    Yep.

    • http://disienai.tumblr.com/ Semipermeable

      I agree, if this is a private practice then I see no reason why they can’t have a variety of reading materials in the waiting room, religious or otherwise.

      If this was some sort of government hospital and the government had paid for the bibles or was only allowing one set of religious materials to be placed in waiting rooms, that would be an issue. This does not seem to be either case as far as we know. 

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/5275WPEYGTX3SZVBFQ662ZQVOM JH e

       Ridiculous statement. I must agree. Actually after thinking about it, {and being in the medical profession for twenty years giving one to one patient care}I believe that if you were a person who actually cares about the people you transport,  you would want them to derive whatever comfort they could. Apparently, you are more concerned with being offended, or perhaps like me, didn’t originally consider the patients needs. The patient is the reason you have a job.

      Your statement about this is rather like the new laws that forbid a bar owner from allowing smoking in HIS bar. That practice is in the doctor’s own business. Which he paid to establish. I think you should have said something so he could have laughed at your ignorance of HIS rights, and then reported you to your boss.

      A bit more research, please, because I am reminded of some blind knee jerk Christians just a bit by this post.

  • Jfaulken

    After I noticed a pile of religious tracts on the counter in my dentist’s waiting room, I just walked out.  I was too pissed off at the time to risk saying anything to the receptionist, but sadly they never even called to follow up.  Completely unprofessional.  Plus I don’t want health care from anyone with that obvious of a psychosis. :)

  • Timothy Rinehart

    People do leave bibles there too, not necessarily does the doctor bring them in.

  • James Hotelling

    I used to work in a hospital, and it always bothered me a little bit to walk into a patient’s room and see them watching the Sunday Morning Preacherizing Hour- I’d never really felt that fire & brimstone talks would create the best recuperative atmosphere. But these were sick people who were spending extended periods away from home. If they needed to do that to help get through their day, well, it was my job to set aside my feelings on the matter and help the patient. And if I did my job well, and one of the patients said they’d pray for me, it was up to me to hide my discomfort and freakin’ say “thank you”. So I don’t have a problem with this, and I wouldn’t really have a problem with a Koran or any other religious text. Now, if this were a law/consulting/interior design/etc. practice, it’d be a completely different matter, but sick people deserve comfort, and as long as it doesn’t replace actual care, I’m pretty fine with whatever religious comfort they want to seek.

    • pureone

      “And if I did my job well, and one of the patients said they’d pray for me, it was up to me to hide my discomfort and freakin’ say ‘thank you’.”
      I’ve come to the point of thinking, it’s their dime, or something like that. If they want to pray for me, it’s their time they are wasting; there are many other more productive things they could be doing, of course. I actually just now laugh to myself when people say that but make sure to turn that into a warm smile for them.

      I work for a very large hospital that does not put anything out in the waiting areas that could be construed as religious in any way. The hospital even has a non-religion “Center for the Spirit”- a meditation room and prayer wall trying to accommodate all spiritual beliefs.

      I do find “conversion tracks” left by visitors. Those find their way into my pocket and then the recycle bin.

  • artwa

    Hello Hemant, you have clearly shown your intolerance for other people’s right by your selfish beliefs. I bet the hospital is not only for people that profess atheism? Different clients have different beliefs and it is not out of place if a Koran or is it Talmud is also placed there. You are obviously not any different from those you are preaching against. Why are you guys so insecure in your beliefs? If you are, such religious books should not cause more than a passing sneer from you. What exactly about these religious books are you uncomfortable about? For a Doctor to be good at what he does, he has to be an atheist? Please, grow up and be less intolerant.

    • cipher

      I’m assuming English isn’t your first language, so you might not have understood – the first part of the article above is an email Hemant received, and he’s asking for peoples’ opinions about it.

    • cipher

      I’m assuming English isn’t your first language, so you might not have understood – the first part of the article above is an email Hemant received, and he’s asking for peoples’ opinions about it.

    • http://brielle.sosdg.org Brielle

      It always helps to fully read the article and understand that it is a letter _to_ Hemant. 

      And for the record, most atheists I’ve met, are a heck of alot more secure in their beliefs then the Christians I come across.  If your beliefs are so solid and unwavering, why do you require a priest/clergy to ‘reaffirm’ those beliefs so often, esp. in your ‘darkest hours’?

  • Bob Becker

    Private office.  The dr. or dentist can leave there whatever he or she pleases, for their own reasons or to accommodate the preferences of their clients. This doesn’t bother me at all.  Holy Roller music piped in would. I don’t have to read the bibles, tracts, etc. [I never go to any medical office without the book I'm currently reading.]  But I can’t choose not to listen to the Muzak selections.

    The solution is, if the bibles or music bother you a lot, to find another doctor. 

  • Anonymous

     Just because it is legal and non problematic from a legal perspective doesn’t mean it is professional.  there are lots of things that are perfectly legal but are not professional.  I think the question is, would YOU feel put upon and uncomfortable.  I once saw L ron Hubbard books in a waiting room for a chiropractor.  He didn’t mention them, but it creeped me out and I wouldn’t go back.  All in all, a bible is probably a pretty safe business decision in this country where the majority is xtian.

    I also find the multitude of magazines with pornified women throughout offensive.  And this is both men’s and women’s mags.  It sexualizes women’s bodies and promotes unhealthy body image.  and the covers alone do this.  You have to actively crack open the bible to get at the offensive parts there.

  • cipher

    What has been mentioned, but a lot of you don’t seem to be getting, is that frequently it isn’t the doctors who put this material out; it’s patients or missionaries (I’m betting it’s the case here; that children’s Bible with the sticker on the cover is a promo). As Reed Braden mentioned above, if they throw them out, the lunatics just come back and replace them – because, you know, in their psychotic world views, no one has the right to be left alone.

    It’s generally easier for the doctor to just leave it there. How many of them are even aware of what’s in their waiting areas in the first place? If they were, do you think there’d be nothing else to read but three year-old issues of Fish and Wildlife?

    • Anonymous

      Exactly this.  My father is a dentist and a nonbeliever, but a patient left a bible and children’s bible story book in his waiting room.  They were probably there for months before he realized it.  The children’s book kind of makes me laugh because he’s a periodontist and about 95% of his patients are age 40 and older.

  • cipher

    What has been mentioned, but a lot of you don’t seem to be getting, is that frequently it isn’t the doctors who put this material out; it’s patients or missionaries (I’m betting it’s the case here; that children’s Bible with the sticker on the cover is a promo). As Reed Braden mentioned above, if they throw them out, the lunatics just come back and replace them – because, you know, in their psychotic world views, no one has the right to be left alone.

    It’s generally easier for the doctor to just leave it there. How many of them are even aware of what’s in their waiting areas in the first place? If they were, do you think there’d be nothing else to read but three year-old issues of Fish and Wildlife?

  • Joe

    Most people have already made my main point: doesn’t bother me. I’m actually more bothered by the christian fish on a business card than some dull waiting room reading material.

    I’d actually like to see a koran; I haven’t read that one already.

    • cipher

      It’s even worse than the Bible. God’s mental health had been faltering for years, but by the 7th century, he’d completely lost his mind.

    • Anonymous

      Of I see an icthus fish on a business card or sign (which are prevalent around here), I avoid them like the plague.  It’s not so much because of the Christian issue itself, but I really hate when people pimp their religion for business.  They are intentionally telling customers, “Hey, I’m Christian, just like you… come to my business!”  I know that the owner of the local scrapbook store I frequent and have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars at is Christian, but she doesn’t pimp her religion with a fish.

      • Rich Wilson

        I know a couple of Christians who feel the same way.

  • Coyotenose

    I live in the South, and as other have said, EVERY private clinic, center or lab keeps a Bible, and usually other religious material in their waiting room, as they have a right to do. If they aren’t pushing faith on the patients or staff, this isn’t an issue.

    As to the comments of the reader who sent in the pictures, I’d say it’s equally unprofessional to have copies of tripe like People Magazine around an office (also ubiquitous where I live).

    Putting religious books aimed at children in waiting rooms is scuzzy, on the other hand. But I wouldn’t stop my kid from looking at them. I WOULD explain that they’re just fiction like other books, and point out the silly parts (Okay, a few highlights. There wouldn’t be time for a page-by-page breakdown).

    Sometimes I wish that I could read minds so I’d know if the other people in the waiting room deserved to see me pick up a Bible, flip to Ezekiel, and laugh at the blatant erotica.

  • Coyotenose

    I live in the South, and as other have said, EVERY private clinic, center or lab keeps a Bible, and usually other religious material in their waiting room, as they have a right to do. If they aren’t pushing faith on the patients or staff, this isn’t an issue.

    As to the comments of the reader who sent in the pictures, I’d say it’s equally unprofessional to have copies of tripe like People Magazine around an office (also ubiquitous where I live).

    Putting religious books aimed at children in waiting rooms is scuzzy, on the other hand. But I wouldn’t stop my kid from looking at them. I WOULD explain that they’re just fiction like other books, and point out the silly parts (Okay, a few highlights. There wouldn’t be time for a page-by-page breakdown).

    Sometimes I wish that I could read minds so I’d know if the other people in the waiting room deserved to see me pick up a Bible, flip to Ezekiel, and laugh at the blatant erotica.

  • Rich Wilson

    In a waiting room with my then-3yo, there wasn’t much in the way of kids’ reading material, but there was a Veggie Tales book.  (kids book with talking vegetable characters, always with strong Christian themes).  So I started reading it to him, but replacing subsequent references to God with things like Zeus and Thor and Allah.  I don’t think anyone else noticed.

    I did see a dentist once that had a bunch of YEC propaganda.  It didn’t bother me from a religious perspective so much as an intelligence perspective.  I chose a different dentist.

  • Anonymous

    This is odd to me because I’ve seen religious magazines and such in several doctor and dentist offices over the years.  I figure they are just providing different reading material for different tastes.  It’s THEIR office, not a public entity receiving public funding, so they have the right to put whatever reading material they want in their waiting room.  I haven’t seen a bible in a waiting room yet, though, but if I did, I wouldn’t think twice about it.  As with TV shows I don’t like, I just don’t read it.

    • pureone

      So what about those who take medicare/medicaid patients?  Public funds, ya know.

  • Anonymous

    Speaking of doctors, though… I was with my Mom in June while she had thyroid surgery.  At one of the followup visits, the doctor attributed her fast healing to, yup, divine intervention.  When we thanked him for such a good job (the scar is gorgeous!), he looked and pointed upward, saying it wasn’t him, it was Him.  My mother was so happy.  Later, she mentioned it again, with an “I told you so” tone to her voice, like this proves to me that god exists because the doctor said so.

    Luckily, I live in another state, because I would NEVER go to him if he feels some unseen force is guiding him in the surgery suite.

    • Bob Becker

      I’d find it hard to resist saying to the surgeon “What?  You mean you botch this operation so often you need to rely on divine intervention for back up?”

  • John

    I often find Watchtower magazines in Dr.s offices.  I throw them away since they were probably placed there without office permission and the JW’s are against blood transfusions and other medical procedures that save lives.

  • Jonathan Duran

    Actually I love when I find Bibles laying around in public like this…it’s the perfect opportunity to pull out my pen, open it up, and make some “corrections” :)

  • Chris Dunkel

    My dad is a retired dentist, as well as an atheist, and I remember seeing something similar to the second picture on the table of kids books in the waiting room.  As a kid I remember seeing it and thinking it was odd since I knew that we didn’t go to church or believe in the Bible, but I never did ask him why it was there.  It may have just been put there by one of the receptionists or some patient may have left it.

    I guess the point of my story is don’t assume that the doctor or the dentist is trying to subtly convert anyone.  In fact speaking up may be just the thing to do.  I’m sure that my dad would have gotten rid of the book in a second if a patient had said anything.

  • Drew M.

    It’s a non-issue for me, regardless of what holy book it is.

    I would find a new practitioner if I found Young Earth bullshit in the
    waiting room (after I confirmed it was put there by the doctor or staff).  As Rich Wilson said upthread, it’s an intelligence issue,
    not a religious one.

  • Drew M.

    It’s a non-issue for me, regardless of what holy book it is.

    I would find a new practitioner if I found Young Earth bullshit in the
    waiting room (after I confirmed it was put there by the doctor or staff).  As Rich Wilson said upthread, it’s an intelligence issue,
    not a religious one.

  • Donna

    I’ve seen many books like the kid’s books in dentists/dr’s offices. They are promos – if you look in the back you’ll see an order form for patients to buy the whole series.

    It’s a clever marketing scheme – captive audience of waiting kids (usually sick and in need of comfort), and the implied endorsement of the professional.

    Most likely some salesman came around and said “do you mind if I leave this” and the Dr or receptionist thought, sure go ahead – it might entertain some people while they wait. It’s probably not an endorsement of religion by the office.

    If the Doctor quoted a bible verse to back up a prescription or diagnosis, I would run! But otherwise, I wouldn’t care.

    BTW my daughter had several bible story books when she was young and we’re an atheist household. It’s part of our culture. Reading the bible in itself does not make you religious (in fact, it often does the opposite…)

  • http://1002things.ca Chelsea

    My doctor’s office plays 100 Huntley Street in the mornings. I find it irritating because I have to listen to it, but I haven’t complained since both doctors at the office (husband and wife) are practicing Muslims. I find the situation more amusing than irritating, to be honest.

  • pureone

    Would it be an issue if the private practice doctor took in medicare/medicaid/”Stateaid” patients?  Then the doctor would be receiving federal funds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marky.o.reilly Marky O Reilly

    I think it’s a non-issue, unless they are actively promoting it, I feel the same about a Koran. If there are muslims attending the office it would be nice to provide that for them too. Doctors offices are stressful places and it might ease some peoples fears reading some bible or koran. I’d be against staff or information leaflets promoting a religion. 

  • T-Rex

    Just need to apply a warning sticker to the inside of the cover with the following message.  “Nothing in this book should be taken literally as it is a work of fiction. Some readers may find the content offensive. Not suitable for young children.”

    • Anonymous

      I’d print those up and keep them in my purse at all times!  Then when someone in a store pulls out her bible to preach to me, I can just pull out a sticker and slap it on there.  That annoys me to no end.  I like that idea!

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

    It wouldn’t bother me, as long as the doctor was providing correct medical care and not trying to convert people during the visit.  I’d feel the same way if it was a Qur’an.  In fact, if there were religious books from several religions, I’d probably even see it as an effort to be inclusive.

  • Marian

    I had to have a root canal a year or so ago.
     The dentist referred me to an office that would perform the
    procedure.  While my mom was making the appointment I noticed a Book of
    Mormon on one of the side tables and that the music playing was Christian Rock.
     As soon as we left I told my mom that I was not going to be drugged(I
    would be given a heavy sedative for my nerves) and at the mercy of this
    facility.  We changed to another place
    that was completely secular.  So they
    lost my business because of their religiosity.

  • Marguerite

    I noticed a Bible in my oncologist’s office the other day (I was there for bloodwork– I don’t have cancer, only anemia).  It was prominently placed at the front desk, which did make me have a slight visceral “ugh” reaction, but I recall seeing those dreadfully written kids’ Bibles in practically every doctor’s office I visited as a child, so I honestly didn’t think about it too much.   I figure it’s there for those who want it, and those of us who don’t want it can just bring something else to read *shrugs*.

  • seashell

    I agree that it is perfectly acceptable to have a bible in a private physician’s office.  However, for me personally, it would raise a lot of questions.  If I was a new patient, before selecting the doctor I would want to know the Dr’s policy on birth control, what hospital are they affiliated with, and do they have policies on abortion to save the life of mothers (issues that have come up at catholic hosps) and opinions on vaccinations.  Are the Dr’s religious views going to influence the care I/my family gets.  That’s all I care about

  • Anonymous

    I usually bring something to read as the mass of old Sports Illustrated (which I think doctors share) bores me. The bible is really a n0n-issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kenneth-Dunlap/1418932885 Kenneth Dunlap

    There isn’t an issue here. Are people who don’t like sports offended by seeing a Sports Illustrated? It’s a selection of reading materials, not an indoctrination attempt. Now, if they ONLY had/allowed bibles and such… then there would be an issue.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I AM insulted by seeing Sports Illustrated in the doctor’s office… mainly because that’s ALL he has there.  I’d even prefer National Geographic or the Bible to SI.  Yeah, that’s right… I’m a sports hater.  ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t care a bit if there was a Bible or a Koran in amongst the Vogue and Sports Illustrated magazines. At least it would give me something to read more entertaining than “How to get perfect classy lashes in 12432 easy steps!”.  It would bother me a lot more if there were only religious texts or a strong emphasis on them, particularly if I was at an OBGYN.

    However if I saw even a tiny bit of creationist propaganda I’d be out of there before you could say “transitional fossil”. No way I’m trusting my health to someone with such a low appreciation or understanding of science.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

    My veterinarian has copies of Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven in the waiting room. I haven’t said anything about it, but I can’t stand either of those books, and it disturbs me that grieving children (or any children, for that matter) are going to come across material that tells them their deceased pets are in a non-existent afterlife. There are plenty of secular books about death that would be much more appropriate in that situation.

    Regarding the type of material Kim encountered, it doesn’t seem like a particularly wise business move. Having a Bible in your office gives the impression that non-Christian clients are not welcome. It seems like it would alienate not only atheist patients, but also Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist ones. The children’s magazine is more disturbing to me. I wouldn’t bring my kids to a doctor or dentist who put religious materal in the waiting room. Surely that’s one place I shouldn’t have to worry about them being indoctrinated. There are many secular magazines (Highlights, for example) that are appropriate for all children.

  • Mike Steinert

    My wife works for a pediatric dentist who also happens to be an Evangelical Christian. In his waiting room he has the following fun religious materials (keep in mind this is a children’s dental office):

    1. Bibles, religious tracts
    2. A giant wall-sized mural depicting Noah and the flood
    3. A shadow box of Jesus artifacts including a piece of bloody wood

    What fun!

  • http://casinosonthemoon.blogspot.com/ Kevin A.

    I live in North Dakota and every time I go to the doctor there’s I usually see a Bible somewhere in the waiting room. Additionally, I’ve been asked what my religion was by a secular clinic when getting preliminary information from me, which I’ve discussed on my blog before ( http://bit.ly/q5nNyM ), the reason as to why, I’m unsure.

    • Laurie

      I didn’t read your blog entry – I will – but I assume it’s for the same reason that my secular hospital in Baltimore asked for mine, which is to know what flavor of clergy to send if you suddenly are ready to kick the bucket.

  • Gedeyenite

    Bring a Koran to add to the office.

  • Linke

    Well first of all the Bible’s there as reading material for waiting clients. That doesn’t necessarily mean the doctor is an avid reader of the Bible, or a zealous religifag of any sort. Of course it does imply that, and I do believe that’s what’s happening, but it still doesn’t bother me.
    If I were to open up any business that offers reading material for waiting customers, I’d probably throw in there a couple of Bibles. 70% of my country is catholic, so it’d be, at the very least, a smart business decision.
    To me, this is a non-issue, for it alone represents nothing.

  • Michael Appleman

    I was actualy just at my doctor’s office an hour ago. I did not see any religious info at all. Just a bunch of those “Edutisement” posters that look like it is educating you about some common problem, but really it is an advertisement for a drug to treat said problem.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    *shrugs*

    I don’t care, really. It’s there, among a variety of other reading material, available if one should wish to read it. Just like any other book.

  • Drew

    Bibles are just a way to make money, a true Christian would have it memorized by heart and wouldn’t need to carry it around and or need to read it at businesses or doctor offices around town.   ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1245766187 Nikki Parker

    I wouldn’t care if the doctor had the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Baha’i holy book, and/or any other book. As long as there was other material in there to read, and the doctor and staff were not actively proselytizing, I just don’t care. I find them more entertaining than People or Us or any of that other celebrity gossip crap.

  • Ben

    Seriously, no issue. Bibles comfort some people when they or a loved one is sick, so why not? Nobody’s forcing you to pick it up and read it. What offends me more are those terrible magazines that make fun of skinny women, plump women, women with cellulite, women who are too perfect, or magazines about cars as if they are the only things men should be interested in. Just looking at the covers make me want to rage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-Rosa/1059360979 Anthony Rosa

    Heck, why not? The Bible’s a pretty good read in any case, and I’m more offended by the People Magazine anyway.  I’d much read the Bible than People magazine, at least.

    Seriously, how is it anymore unprofessional than anything else in that stack? Just because we don’t think it’s right doesn’t mean that others should bend over backwards to keep the Bible from a private place.

    It’s kind of like how offended some Christians are to certain ads that happen to be mentioned often on this site… why be offended that something from a different point of view is *gasp* there on the table! Isn’t that kind of attitude what we’re fighting against?!

  • Philbert

    If someone sent me a breathless email about the scandalous presence of a Koran in a waiting room, I guess my reaction would be different. I would be wondering how I got on a tea party mailing list.

  • Timothy

    I havent looked at the magazine’s in my doctors office in the longest time.  I just bring my own book or my iPod.

  • Sinfanti

    “it doesn’t strike me as a business-savvy move”

    Really?  Pandering to the majority is often seen as good business strategy.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      It depends on where Kim lives, doesn’t it? If she’s in the Bible Belt, these doctors and dentists might be pandering to the majority. But if she lives somewhere where people keep their religion private, or in an area known for diversity and multiculturalism, patients wouldn’t be expecting to see Christian religious material in the waiting room. What might be normal in Georgia or Alabama would seem very odd in San Francisco.

  • ff42

    Seriously?!    One is concerned about a Bible within the confines of private property?  I guess all the big problems are already solved.

  • Elbanosear

    In all seriousness, if I saw a Koran in the doctor’s office, I would probably…read it?  It’s his office–the mere existence of the printed material does not in itself amount to proselytizing.  If he made you listen to religious rhetoric or preached while examining you, that would need to be considered more carefully.  Does this doctor inquire about the religious feelings of his patients?  If not, it’s hard to see where there’s any kind of discriminatory practice.

  • http://twitter.com/batterysunshine Kristina

    My doctor’s office has a bookshelf that serves as a book exchange. I was delighted to see a copy of “The God Delusion” on the shelf on my last visit! (I didn’t take it because I already have my own copy.) No religious symbols to be seen anywhere in the office, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a bible the next time I’m there. I’m sure there will be one conveniently left behind there, just as “The God Delusion” was :)

  • rhodent

    If there were Bibles and nothing else, I’d consider it unprofessional and inappropriate.  But when it’s one of literally dozens of options of reading material?  Whatever.  Fact is, there are people in the waiting room who want to read it. 

    I always bring my own reading material anyway.  For some reason doctor’s offices almost never have copies of The Atlantic or Smithsonian magazine.

  • Dan W

    I guess whether the doctor’s or dentist’s offices have bibles depends on where you live. I’m in a more urban part of Iowa, and I’ve never seen any bibles or christian propaganda at the local doctor’s and dentist’s offices. Then again, I recall seeing some christian reading material in a little waiting room of a hospital in Duluth, Minnesota when I went up there to visit my grandmother a month ago. I think it’s unprofessional to have reading material that favors one religious view and nothing from others at such places.

  • Violet Stamper

    Will Kim tell us where these were snapped? I think I go to the same orthodontist she works for! The carpet and the tables look exactly the same! It’s is Dr. Utermark?

  • lucy

    I get annoyed because at my gynecologist’s office they have nothing in the waiting room except parenting/baby magazines. I feel like screaming “some of us are here to make sure we DON’T have kids!” Anyway, I’d probably say something (or maybe email/write something since I like to avoid confrontation) if I was a patient and saw a Bible or other obviously Christian reading materials.

  • gsw

    During a visit by the JWs, the question of the Golden Rule came up (they had never heard of it !) so I pulled down my English Bible to show them (theirs was in German).
    Since I am an atheist, they were astonished – “You own a bible?” Of course, says I, it’s literature.
    Since I also have books on the Greek,  Roman, Norse and Celtic mythologies, The Infidels Guide to the Koran (Thx Mr. Spencer), and Reliance of the Traveller, not to mention books on witchcraft and pagan rituals, it would be unfair not to have copies of the OT & NT.

    My point is this: Literature is good;  non-one sided literature is better.
    What a good opportunity to show a captive audience that there is more than one theology? Even if they never open a book – just having them in a row signals that the idea of exclusive religious truth is rubbish.

    Now, where can I get hold of the Torah – preferably in English?

    • cipher

      Any Jewish bookstore will have it.

    • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

      I’ve seen copies of both the entire Jewish Bible and also just the first five books at my local Barnes and Noble.  Some have just the Hebrew and others just English, but there was also an edition with both.

    • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Ani Sharmin

      I’ve seen copies of both the entire Jewish Bible and also just the first five books at my local Barnes and Noble.  Some have just the Hebrew and others just English, but there was also an edition with both.

  • Barefoot Bree

    I have a graduated scale of reaction. A Bible in the waiting room: a roll of the eyes, but it probably was left there by a patient or other donor. Same with Chick tracts – but I might gather them up surreptitiously and dump them at the next chance.

    But if the Bible is prominently displayed at the receptionist’s desk, or if there are other displays, paintings on the walls, and especially if there’s Christian music or Christian TV going on, that stuff tells me that the doctor is heavily religious, and then I start to get nervous.

    Why? Because a) I don’t want to be preached at; b) I don’t want to receive less than the best treatment if they should discover that I’m an unbeliever – and that does happen; and c) I begin to worry that the doctor relies more on faith healing than actual medical knowledge and training, not a good sign for the quality of care I can expect from him or her.

    If I have a choice, I do not return to that doctor – in fact, if it’s very heavy, I will walk out before even seeing him.

    I’m also in the position of looking for a job IN a medical office, as a newly-minted Medical Assistant. In this neck of the woods (heartland US), this is an additional headache. I don’t want to take a job in such an office, for all of the above reasons, and because I’m afraid that the atmosphere will be oppressive. Now, I realize of course that many/most doctors are able to keep their religion to themselves (where I think it should be; I firmly believe that religion is a personal decision that should remain private), but if they go to the lengths of decorating their office with religious symbols and having the media playing, then they aren’t the type to leave it at home. What will their reaction be when they discover that I’m an atheist?

    If the religion is in my face all day, I would not be happy or completely comfortable. Any reaction by the staff to knowledge of my atheism would just be rancid icing on the cake.

    I’m not saying that doctors (or other business owners) shouldn’t do as they please; they have the right to be whatever they are. But I have no desire to be in their company or patronize their business – less than that, I have an active desire to avoid them. That’s fine for both of us for the most part, except when we have no choice but to interact – if they’re the only specialist in town that I NEED to receive treatment from, for instance.

    I’m rambling on with no clear idea of where I’m going. Just describing the reality of my world. The rampant display of religion is divisive.

  • the captain

    I went to college in a small town with one big medical center.  There was Christian propaganda in the waiting room, but it seemed like a group had come in and left them there, not that the doctors or anyone had set them out.  It wouldn’t surprise me if this happened all over the place.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1443535574 Oscar Røhling

    Visiting a doctor I would have other things to worry about.  And I wouldn’t mind really; I’m so used to see so-called “holy books” everywhere that they just don’t register. Even I have a couple copies of the official Danish Lutheranian Bible (I like old books) after all, so those books are just like the church across the road, which I’ve never really cared about either (I want them to bury their bells under a ton of soundproof dung though).
    Now if a doctor, assistant or secretary actively tried pushing religion on me he/she would get the full benefit of my 42 years of experience in sending religious people screaming for the door. And I would of course register an official complaint. 
    Another more annoying matter is that our state-run hospitals always have had bibles handy – qurans too the last couple decades – and you really ought to bring your own entertainment when you get treated for free.

  • http://evolutionguide.blogspot.com/ William

    Private business, no problem.

  • Daniel

    My (now ex) wife went to a doctor for the first time and the doctor gave her a speech about how he relies on prayer to allow God to tell him what’s wrong with her.  He said he would listen briefly to what was wrong, then he would kneel down and pray, then he would do whatever came to mind because he felt he was God’s conduit.  

    She walked out, and they tried to collect a fee from her for “wasting their time.”  I had to threaten to have his license revoked before he would stop.  This was a doctor I had visited in the past and he had not given me this garbage.  I assume some “born again” magic had occurred.

  • Brian_howes

    Just had an appt with a neurologist.  As I was sitting in the waiting room I noticed that there were pamphlets EVERYWHERE: Natural birth control, the church’s (Catholic) teachings on pornography, Bible Stories for children, Our Daily Bread magazine, Crucifixes on the wall.  I was so put off by all of this material provided by my new doctor (whom I had not yet seen), that I explained to the receptionist that it made me feel uncomfortable.  I had filled out paperwork indicating that I was in a civil union with my same sex partner; that my insurance was being covered by him as a dependent.  I did not come to this doctor’s office to be judged or saved (other than being saved from an unbearable case of cluster headaches).  So I told her that I was leaving.  I will seek out another headache specialist who keeps his/her religion to himself/herself.

  • Johnyoung

    I was just reading an atheist web page wherein a concern for tollerance and acceptance was mentioned. Why then can’t you all return the favor? I don’t run, but I don’t get offended when I see a running magazine in a doctor’s office.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5275WPEYGTX3SZVBFQ662ZQVOM JH e

    A Koran, Bible and other some such would be a good idea in the doctor’s office; if you were being treated for a disease {cancer, et al} that you would not survive, and held to whatever religious beliefs as a patient, it is possible some patients would derive a great deal of comfort from these writings. The patient is often considered needing treatment, and a good doctor is taught to treat mind, body and soul. They are impossibly connected. As an atheist, is there a book that would be of comfort to you?

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Grimm’s Fairy Tales?

  • Sculpin

    This is obviously a very old (2yrs) discussion but I have to share. I found this conversation because I was looking for the book you have in the pictures Hemant took at the doctors office. If it weren’t for those photos and this blog chain I am not sure if I would have found the book (My Bible Friends). I remember enjoying that series very much as a child and was looking for them for my young son, but I could not remember the name,, thank you for your help, God sure works in mysterious way doesn’t he!


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