As the faithful watch cruelty with indifference

Some days I cringe when I think of the people with whom I have to share the earth.

Gov. Jan Brewer has signed a bill that ensures Arizona workers won’t lose their professional licenses for denying services on religious grounds.

The bill is a broader version of the so-called conscience clause that Arizona and other states have recognized for pharmacists, physicians or other health care workers who decline to perform abortions or prescribe emergency contraceptives.

I guess, for some doctors, their allegiance to a discriminatory god is stronger than their allegiance to the Hippocratic Oath.

Proponents acknowledge there are no known incidents of faith-based discipline in Arizona. They say the bill is a reaction to cases in states such as Michigan where a student counselor was disciplined after refusing to work with a gay client because of her religious beliefs.

Republican Sen. Steve Yarbrough introduced the legislation, saying it’s “fundamentally wrong” that if “you don’t affirm the particular lifestyle, then your license is going to be at risk.”

It takes a biblical amount of moral confusion to think that affirming your empathy when others are sick means you are lending consent to the way they live.   It doesn’t matter if you don’t like that someone is gay, when they are sick, you fucking treat them.  If you don’t, your license should be lost.  You don’t just treat the people you think are holy enough to deserve good health.

This piece of legislation makes a simple announcement: that someone’s religious beliefs are more important than the well-being of others.  If somebody doesn’t live their life in accordance to your rules, then you have no obligation, as a doctor, to ease their suffering.  This is yet another example of Christianity aligning itself against compassion and calling it love.

What could cause human beings to adopt such an inhuman outlook?  Of course, the answer is obvious.  It’s the force that can make a doctor opposed to treating a sick person.  It’s what motivates throngs of people in states like Arizona to clamor for their personal prejudices to be enshrined.  In modern times, wherever you find the moral sickness of our ancestors, you are bound to find religion nurturing it to health.

Make no mistake; when you can stare at a suffering person with indifference, or even self-satisfied superiority, because they don’t dance to the beat of your mythological drum, you are heartless – and it is your dear, important religion that has made you that way.

And it’s not just the doctors flying hatred under the banner of Christ’s love.  This bill couldn’t have succeeded without a large number of equally cold-blooded believers in the citizenry supporting it.

And for you moderates who will comment and email me, listen up.  If you came here to absolve religion by telling me that the crowds of believers who supported this piece of wretched legislation have faith all wrong before taking your criticism to them, as though telling me about the goodness of god was more important than telling other Christians about the vileness of bigotry, then you are just as morally corrupted by faith.  You want to do something useful?  Get the fuck out of my sight until you realize that your job is not to make excuses to me – it’s to rebuke the evil of people who believe in the same bible as you.

Tell me again how religion makes people more moral.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Kevin

    So a Muslim psychologist won’t be disciplined for demanding that all of his female patients wear burquas?

    • Gilman

      I like the idea that if you do not acknowledge the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I can let you die.

    • triamacleod

      Or a Jehovah’s Witness refusing to order a blood transfusion to an accident victim.

      A Jew refusing to treat anyone with tattoos.


      And how will they determine what is ‘religiously’ motivated and what is sheer racism, sexism and bigotry? Is there some sort of test or contract that must be signed prior to a situation coming up? Or is this law only being enforced against women and their reproductive organs?

      If this bs passes the courts, I’m going to insist that Human Resources only hire non-theist doctors and nurses in the ER.

    • Joshua Fisher

      Actually, I think I’m gonna convert to Scientology and get a job as a psychologist in AZ. I won’t have to do shit, and they can’t fire me.

  • Susan K.

    In my opinion, this is the best post of yours I’ve read … perfectly said.

  • Snowshoe the Canuck

    Have any of those idiots ever heard of the Parable of the Good Samaritan? It would be too much for me to expect them to actually understand all of the implications of the parable.

    Fucking bigots.

  • WilloNyx

    So now doctors in Arizona can refuse to preform mammograms on trans women cause of their beliefs. Suicide counselors can refuse to address suicidal tendencies in divorced patients because their bible tells them clearly divorce is wrong. Or even someone can refuse treatment of of someone based on their own religion because the two faiths are at odds. This law is in direct conflict with every federal protection of civil rights known.

    I am disgusted.

  • John-Henry Beck

    I can see why this post is getting tweeted around.

    I’m definitely finding it harder and harder to believe that religion and morality (or ethics?) are compatible.

  • Adam

    This madness makes me want to cry. What is happening to our country? I feel like this is the last effort of a dying superpower. They are attempting to implement legislation from their deathbed before they slip away into political history. I just hope too much damage isn’t done before we can overturn their stupidity.

  • peicurmudgeon

    So for an atheist to refuse to treat Christians will be perfectly acceptable? Yeah right.

  • stevegrechis

    Government officials swear, on the Bible, that they will act out the letter of the law; they swear that the Constitution is important enough to call God as witness to the fact that they will protect it and uphold it.

    When a discriminatory bill is pushed into legislation, such as Amendment One or Prop 8, any elected official who knowingly votes to restrict the rights of certain citizens is breaking a promise they made to their God. They swore, with God as a witness, that they would help the people, and they not only failed but actively worked to break that promise. They broke the terms of their leadership, and so should no longer be leaders.

    Doctors pledge the Hippocratic Oath above all else: (Abridged) “I swear by all the gods and goddesses to keep the following oath: I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients, and never do harm to anyone.”

    When this oath is broken, and a doctor knowingly fails to prescribe medicine for the good of his patient when it is needed, they have broken that oath, and so have broken the terms by which they practice medicine. In my mind, in the same way as those government leaders should no longer lead, these doctors are no longer doctors, and deserve none of the respect or authority that go with it.

    • No Light


      Want to save lives? Carry on working in medicine.

      Want to save souls? Then join the nearest closed order ASAP.

    • Derrik Pates

      But it’s the religious way! The bible says “love thy neighbor”, but if you sufficiently narrowly redefine “neighbor” to mean “only the people who agree with me”, you can discriminate and hate lots of people, and still be “technically” in the right. Just like if you define yourself as “leader” of only the people who agree with everything you say and think, you’re not breaking a promise. See? Isn’t that convenient?

  • Jason Thibeault

    Imagine the nightmare for hospital administration. Discover a doctor who doesn’t believe in the germ theory of disease? Can’t fire them!

  • MarkNS

    The real problem is that religious “morality” is so fucking arbitrary. There’s no thought given to how much harm an action may cause, who gets hurt or whose rights are abridged. If fact, there’s no thought given to anything. If god said it’s moral or immoral…that’s the final answer.
    If people would just use their evolved empathy and reason to make moral choices (like atheists have to) there would be a lot less harm done in the world.

  • snebo154

    Does this law absolve christian/jewish/muslim doctors from the responsibility of reporting child abuse by parents? Even if the child dies as a result of being stoned for parental disrespect?

  • cag

    Since they had their wooden stakes and burning torches taken away, christian minds (sic) (sick) have been working on different ways to kill off the infidels.

  • kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    So they’ll see no problem whatsoever with doctors who refuse to treat xians.

    After all it is their “right of conscience” to refuse to spiritually harm the godly with evil scientific medicine when they should thrust their god to do the healing.

    • Dustin

      If an atheist refused to treat a Christian because of the patient’s Christianity, I’d bet my balls that they’d just whine about the cold, godless, immoral atheists.

      Double standards…

  • gwen

    Does this mean an EMT who graduated from Liberty University can let a child die after answering a call for help, because s/he is the product of a marriage between a black person and a white person?….or answering a 911 call and finding the victim is a crossdressing man, or someone s/he he perceives is a lesbian? The perambulatory variations on this theme are endlessly tragic.

  • Buffy

    Bring on all of the Christian Scientist doctors who can get paid a handsome salary and refuse to treat anybody because it’s against their religion. Of course they can’t be fired because that would be religious persecution.

  • Jim B

    Christians often sneer that atheism is just another religion. I bet if this law passes in AZ and an atheist doctor refuses to perform some procedure on religious grounds, those same Christians would object that atheism is not a religion.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    The moderates are being suckered. Because they are all tolerant and ecumenical, when the fundies promote their views, all sugar coated in “But we all believe in god & jesus”, the moderates nod their heads in agreement, like bobble head dolls. Common ground, and all that.
    After the fundies ride to power on the backs of the moderates, the fundies, like all fascist ideologues, will purge them out, just as the communists and NAZI’s did.
    The only hope I have is that the fundie fascists are now saying in public what they used to say only behind closed doors (Santorum’s comments about birth control; total abortion bans even if the mother’s life is at risk; bills like this) that the moderates will start to wake up and realize that fundies are their enemies.

  • Anteprepro

    While some doctors might wonder whether they could give or withhold care to a murderer or a war criminal in good conscience, and battle over that ethical dilemma, these religious folks look on in awe. Because they obviously don’t need to worry about whether the requirement of providing care does or does not trump the horror of helping a horrible person. Because religious morality assures that whatever your whims are, as long as its based in sincerity and Bible verses, they trump all responsibilities, and allow you to dismiss people who have harmed no-one more easily than the more sane would dismiss people who have caused much harm (and may continue to do so). Really, I just read The Authoritarians, and I’m already starting to see the various things Altemeyer was talking about EVERYWHERE.

  • lofgren

    This is good news for me, because I believe in the prosperity gospel, and therefore anybody who can’t afford to pay me who needs treatment is clearly a sinner who doesn’t deserve it.

  • scotlyn

    The least they could do is also publish a labelling law that requires such professionals to state publicly on their signs and in their professional literature that:

    “My conscience, informed by my religious beliefs, may prevent me from providing the full range of services considered to be best practice in my profession. Caveat emptor.”

  • LadyBlack

    Hang on, I thought that the faithful were the guys that god protected anyway? Why do they need medical help? Surely it’s us sinners who need medicine after being struck down by their benevolent god with various afflictions due to our ‘evil’. So if they don’t treat the sinners and all believers rely on the power of god, who the heck are they going to treat anyway? Wouldn’t it be part of their duty to tend to the sick as an act of ‘suffering’ on their part, EVEN MORE SO if the person being treated was ‘evil’ and ‘not a believer’.

    “It doesn’t matter if you don’t like that someone is gay, when they are sick, you fucking treat them.”

    Yes, this.

  • jamesskaar

    do doctors in the states have to swear the hippocratic oath? i remember reading somewhere that they don’t anymore.