Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians
Connecting the esoteric teachings of Rosicrucians, Theosophists and Freemasons with Witches, Pagans and Heathens
Can't List Pagan on Hospital Intake Forms
If you're old enough, you may remember a television cartoon series from the 1950's called "Crusader Rabbit." He was, as I recall, sort of a Don Quixote-type character - tending to tilt at windmills which most folks would judge imaginary or not worth the effort. Whether that memory is correct or not, it's the way I often feel. Very few people ever seem to share my sense of injustice at the little subtleties in our culture.
My wife and I receive healthcare in Arizona from the Banner Health organization. Banner is one of the largest healthcare conglomerates in the U.S., managing hospitals and medical practices all over the country. Yet, when we are admitted into the hospital for a procedure and are asked on the intake form to indicate whether we have a religion of choice, only certain ones are on their computer list and they do not include Pagan, Neopagan or Heathen. Most surprisingly, in light of recent acknowledgment by the Armed Forces and the Prison system, the Banner list doesn't even have Wiccan! (We are not Wiccan, strictly speaking, but it's close enough for Jazz. We'd take it.)
Nor can we override the system to have our religious beliefs typed-in. The closest they will allow are Other or Unknown! Kind of insulting.
This restriction of choice strikes me as odd for a non-profit, non-religious hospital system. I might expect such an attitude from a hospital supported by donations from a specific religious group - Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Baptist etc. But, in point of fact, such institutions tend to be wonderfully open-minded in accepting patients of all faiths.
We usually let stuff like this slide; life is hard enough as it is, and we have far more important issues on which to spend our energy. However, if either of us has to go into hospital for something really serious and scary, it might be comforting to have a cleric of our general persuasion come by the room for a visit. A cleric who won't try to convince us to come back to Holy Mother Church before it's too late to save our souls.
Our hospital has a nice Chaplain who had, at least, heard of Neopaganism - but he did not seem inclined to buck the bureaucracy on our behalf, to get it added to the list. Actually, I got the impression that he had some prejudice concerning the religious or moral legitimacy of Neopagan unions. He asked how long we had been together, and registered obvious surprise when I told him "32 years."
He didn't need to know that Ravyn and I didn't start out Neopagan, but only came to it a few years ago. It wasn't any of his business, and what difference should that make, anyway? We would still be together regardless of what faith we embraced. Couples either last or they don't. Their religion has very little to do with it.
Such prejudice only distracts from the point - which is that all people admitted to hospital should have the right to indicate their religion, if they so choose, without judgment or censorship. I'm wondering if the bodies that are already lobbying for recognition of Wicca and Pagan beliefs in other sections of our society would be interested in adding hospitals to their list.
Anne Newkirk Niven informs me that Lady Liberty League is the group I need to contact. I suppose I will make inquiries there; but I have neither the time nor the energy to mount a crusade of my own. This rabbit has other carrots to grate.
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