Social Question

Aster's avatar

Would you prefer a doctor who prays before he examines you?

Asked by Aster (19954points) February 7th, 2012

My daughter heard about a doctor who prays with kids before they get immunized. Would you avoid such a doctor or prefer him?
He prayed that her son would do well in his new school and that he’d have a good experience with his shots.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

68 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

If they don’t call it prayer, I don’t have a problem with it. Sounds nice.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I don’t like it. It seems like he is taking advantage of the child when he is most vulnerable.
What does the child think when the shot inevitably hurts? God did not like him?
Which God is the doctor praying to? The child’s or his own?

rebbel's avatar

Sounds to me as if the doctor is going to do his/her job haphazardly.
Wouldn’t like the sound of that.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Fuck. no. I want a doctor who knows what he’s doing and believes he is god, not one that’s relying on somone else.

Mariah's avatar

No, I wouldn’t prefer a doctor who does this. It sort of gives me the feeling that he doesn’t have confidence that he himself can do the job, if he thinks he needs divine help.

Blackberry's avatar

What? No.

How about the doctor just does his job like everyone else. Prayer is for feeling like you’re doing something with the least amount of effort possible, but he’s a doctor and should already know that he’s doing the work, not anyone else.

Aster's avatar

@wundayatta He called it prayer as in, “may I have a word of prayer with him before we begin?” This guy is really going to rake it in around here!

Aster's avatar

He did not pray so he’d do a decent job. He prayed that the child would have a “good experience” during the visit and at his new school. He didn’t pray that he wouldn’t screw up or injure him.

Mariah's avatar

Okay. But if I want prayer, I go to church. If I want medical help, I go to a doctor. There’s no reason to mix them in my eyes.

JLeslie's avatar

I would avoid him/her, especially if he is an OBGYN, it would scare me. I don’t mind if a doctor is religious and prays, but I find it very innapropriate to do it in front of the patient, unless the patient asks for everyone to pray before a procedure.

I don’t see it as he feel he needs divine help, as @Mariah mentioned, I see it more as some religious people pray before everything, or feel a prayer will help the other person feel confortable, but it makes me very unconfortable. The doctor cannot know how I will react, so better not to do it in my opinion. I would worry their religious beliefs might interfere with my care.

Aster's avatar

@Mariah ok but I wonder how many would object to a preacher doing resuscitation? Applying ointment and a bandaid?

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster That analogy does not make sense.

Aster's avatar

There is a very prosperous plastic surgeon who used to be on tv from Beverly Hills. He would pray before each facelift that all would go well. Then they stopped filming that part of the surgery due to objections by the viewing audience.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster Force his prayer on the patient? Or, pray on his own before he did the surgery?

Aster's avatar

@JLeslie I’m not surprised. I thought it sounded a little stupid too. LOL

Aster's avatar

The tv doctor? That is a good question. It appeared to me that he prayed after putting the patient to sleep. But he could have done it beforehand. It wasn’t clear.

Aster's avatar

He prayed in front of the patient, nurses and doctors in the surgical suite.

KatawaGrey's avatar

I’d want a doctor who keeps his/her beliefs or non-beliefs to him/herself unless I ask. This goes for atheist doctors too.

Having said that, if I have a heart problem and the best cardiologist available is a fundamentalist Christian, I am okay with a little prayer. I would not go to a worse cardiologist just because I didn’t agree with the first one about his/her spirituality.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster I think a doctor saying a prayer on his own is no problem, but doing it in the presence of patients or nurses is a little odd. Well, in front of nurses when the patient is already under before surgery might be ok, but he should not ask for others to participate, it is his thing, maybe it gives him a moment of focus, and is a routine for him before doing things, many things. Before he eats, before he flies, before he does surgery, I know people like that. I would have no problem with my doctor being that type of person if he was a good doctor, just don’t involve me in it. As far as OBGYN’s, I mention them because I am high risk pregnancy, and I would much rather my doctor not be religious and not be pro-life.

Aster's avatar

It seemed odd to me also; he prays out loud- not to himself. It is very short and asks “Heavenly Father” that all will go well in surgery and that the patient is happy with the results. That’s it. Of course it’s possible that he asks the patients’ permission when getting prepped . I don’t know.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster But, is it like he just takes a moment before beginning the procedure? Before he takes the scaple? That might be ok. He is in charge, nothing starts until he is ready. I’d rather he do it in privacy, because if I was one of the nurses or anesthesioligist I would feel a little uncomfortable, but as long as I was not asked to bow my head or join hands, I could live with it. I find it very very odd for religion to be very visible at work, unless one works for a church, or some sort of house of worship.

Even hospital chaplains are very aware of the comfort of others and typically do not thrust anything religious on patients. When my sister worked at a couple different Catholic hospitals the clergy and staff were very aware of these things. One hospital the staff went through a class with the Chaplain, a priest, as part of their training and orientation, and she said he was wonderful, and he instructed the medical professionals to never discuss religion unless prompted by the patients themselves, except to possibly offer the services of clergy.

Aster's avatar

Yes. He would see the patient on the table and before lifting the scapel he’d bow his head, fold his arms and close his eyes and pray. Out loud.

JLeslie's avatar

I guess maybe a doctor could market himself as a “Christian Doctor?” I worked with a woman who marketed herself as a Christian therapist. She mostly worked with married couples back then. Her own relationships were a mess ironically. She did it mainly as a marketing tool. Basically she could talk the talk, knew the lingo that appealed to Christians. I knew her later when she mostly worked with addicts.

Aster's avatar

I suppose. This local doctor doesn’t market himself at all. Word of mouth that he prays is spreading like wildfire around here. I just hope he’s sincere and isn’t doing it to increase his business. Which it will. lol

ucme's avatar

Nah, it’s an examination not an exorcism.

talljasperman's avatar

What about a doctor who sacrifices a goat (or a hamster because of cutbacks) before giving the shot? Race, Region, and Sex doesn’t really matter to me…but I don’t want my child indoctrinated without my consent… besides I don’t want my child to be immunized and get retarded like Micheal Bachman claimed. But then I don’t have a child yet (that I know of).

Aster's avatar

Her son has already been indoctrinated. He writes Christian or spiritual songs and sings them with his guitar and the doctor asked his mom’s permission before praying.
Sacrificing a goat would be a little bloody don’t you think? To say nothing of primitive and violent.

talljasperman's avatar

@Aster Who knows what happening in the back office of doctor rooms… and surgery gets bloody too…how many animals were killed to perfect a doctors arts…a biology student has to do frog and pig dissections in high school and then a real human in medical school. In 200 years the things doctors do now will seem primitive and violent. ... But I’m talking about my kids(the ones I don’t have yet… as far as I know) not ones that already have been sold out by parents. If the doctor asks me then I will think about it but I don’t want prayers force upon me against my consent. But I do give my consent to be resurrected as long as its not on the bill and not performed in a cursed Pet Cemetery .

Aethelflaed's avatar

This specific doctor I’d avoid like the plague.

Unless I ask the doctor to pray with me (which I wouldn’t do, because I think it’s generally inappropriate to ask someone to pray with you unless you know that they’d be glad to), it’s not appropriate. If they wants to pray before, away from the patient(s), perhaps while changing into scrubs, that’s their business. But once they’re around me, it’s showy and self-centered, and inappropriate. And it’s doubly inappropriate to do in with children that you aren’t the parent of.

marinelife's avatar

I would so not go back to that doctor.

flutherother's avatar

If God had done his job properly in the first place the doctor wouldn’t need to immunise.

Facade's avatar

I wouldn’t avoid a doctor who prayed. It seems like a non-issue to me.
When I had my first treatment of prolotherapy, my doctor started praying during the treatment to calm me down. It fucking hurt. You could say it helped; I went from cursing and yelling to just crying somewhat calmly. He’ll probably need to pray again on Thursday.

Aster's avatar

@Facade OMG I am so sorry! That is just terrible! I’ve never heard of prolotherapy.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

Definitely not for me. I would get up and leave.

Jeruba's avatar

Heavens, no.

trailsillustrated's avatar

Just plain weird.

ratboy's avatar

Which doctor is the witch doctor?

Dutchess_III's avatar

If the kids believed in God then I think it would be a great thing to do.

Berserker's avatar

Maybe he prays with the kids to make them feel a bit more at ease and comfortable. An operation must be a freaky thing, especially to a kid. Except maybe he should have the parents’ consent first…But if I had a doctor who seriously prayed before he had to operate on me, I’d find that unsettling and disturbing.

KatawaGrey's avatar

For all of you who say you would just get up and leave, would you rather a second-rate doctor who didn’t pray over the best the business who does happen to pray?

Berserker's avatar

Personally I’d be freaked out, as I say, but I wouldn’t leave. I’m assuming the doctor knows his shit, so that’s all that really matters. But then again maybe prayer really isn’t that big a deal, because no matter the circumstances, just needing an operation would freak me out either way lol.

Blackberry's avatar

@KatawaGrey Well, the thing is that there are plenty of fine doctors who don’t pray. But if I had to choose, of course I would pick the best doctor, but that’s also a hypothetical situation.

gravity's avatar

I could understand it more if maybe it was an oncologist maybe, but before a child’s immunization? I wish any of my doctors acted interested enought in me as a patient to even think of praying for me or what I may need!

syz's avatar

Holy crap, Batman! Run away!

Paradox25's avatar

In the end it doesn’t really matter much to me, only the ability of the doctor in question. Regardless of the heavily atheistic leaning paradigm on fluther most doctors, nurses, hospice workers, etc are theists. I’m also a theist myself so of course this does not bother me and I’ve had quite a few doctors pray for me and my family before and after various different treatments.

Mariah's avatar

@Aster I would not oppose anyone doing resusitation or applying a band-aid. I would, however, oppose a preacher giving me dosing instructions or taking blood samples.

@KatawaGrey If there were truly no other good doctors in the field, I’d suck it up, but bedside manner is not to be underestimated, and if a doctor makes me feel uncomfortable for any reason, including this one, I won’t hesitate to go elsewhere.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Blackberry: Would you think it was unreasonable if someone changed doctors because the doctor was gay and had multiple pictures of him and his husband displayed in his office? Because, you know, there are plenty of doctors who aren’t gay. My point is that it is unrelated to someone’s ability to perform medicine. And, quite frankly, I’d rather have a doctor who prayed in front of me than a doctor who said, “well, if you die on the table, all that will be left of you is a rotting corpse.”

@Mariah: And that makes sense. But it sounds to me that it’s not so much about discomfort as it is about this specific issue for many of the people on this thread.

Aethelwine's avatar

I don’t know if I’d prefer it, but if the doctor asked if he/she may pray before the examination I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s his prayer, not mine. I’ve never known a prayer to be hurtful. What’s the harm? No big deal. It’s all in good faith.

Blackberry's avatar

@KatawaGrey Yeah, I would think it was inappropriate to leave the gay doctor because I don’t need his permission to be gay around me, but I agree the prayer doesn’t affect his skill.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey I would not have a problem with a doctor who had a cross hanging in their office, but that is different than talking about their religion, or doing something associated with their religion in my presence in an exam room. I go to Catholic hospitals with crosses hanging, but the doctor does not pray in my presence. A doctor who has a photo of his husband and he, does not have it in my face in his exam room, and he does not tell me about him before giving me a shot. You probably saw above I was fairly lenient with a surgeon maybe saying a prayer before starting surgery if the patient is basically unaware, and I am fine with a religious doctor in most cases, but the question goes to when and where a specific activity is appropriate, and the comfort of the patient and coworkers.

harple's avatar

If that happened here in the UK, he would probably be risking his own job. I’m fairly certain it would result in some sort of a disciplinary for him. If the local, then national press got hold of the story it would be very bad for him indeed. But then our tabloids have a nasty way of stirring our everyday Joe into a frenzy over matters as individual as these.

cazzie's avatar

I would avoid this doctor and I would also mention this to someone who brought in this doctor to deal with the kids. It is one thing to chat with a child and tell them that you hope they have a good year at school and hope that the shots don’t hurt too much. It is another thing all together to invoke the name of a god he believes in and pretend it does some mystical good for the child. How about if a Buddist doctor was there and lit incense and said a mantra and rang a bell or a Hindu doctor had a little corner decked out to Shiva and he asked that each child bring in a flower to lay at Shiva’s little, blue folded legs? Nope. I will take my medicine for my family without mystical shit, please. Before my son get’s his shots, we talk. I tell him everything he needs to know and he knows he can ask the nurses anything before hand. His belief in himself is what gives him the best outcome at school and during trying times.

mattbrowne's avatar


I’ve never heard anything like this in Germany despite the fact that many doctors over here are practicing Christians. But not on a 24/7 basis. Then it gets absurd. I’m sure when Jesus still worked as a carpenter he didn’t pray with his father every time before he used a hammer. Come on. Get real.

OpryLeigh's avatar

My initial thought was that this sounds a bit creepy. If my nurse prayed before she did my smear test I would be a little freaked out! However, I think if the doctor knows that it won’t cause offence then praying with children is sweet in situations like getting injections etc. It should be used to put the child at ease and not to be preachy though.

Aster's avatar

Remember: the doctor asks permission first. He does not just start praying out of nowhere. You are “prepared” for it by giving your permission.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster For me, just asking is innappropriate.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I would imagine that a good doc would get to know his patients before even asking whether they minded a prayer. Hopefully this doctor knew that the family wouldn’t mind and, if that’s the case, then I have no problems with it at all. I would hope that he woukd only do it with patients he had gotten to know well enough to know it woukd cause no offence.

Aster's avatar

NO; he asks all new patients !! Bible Belt area here.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster It never ceases to amaze me how some people, and I am not saying you, I am only talking in generalities, and about the doctor in question, how some people have no concept about how uncomfortable it is for people who are not religious to be put in situations that involves prayer, or even a question about participating in prayer, and I’ll go as far as religious vocabulary can be very offputting. I would guess from the doctor’s perspective maybe he is just fine if someone says they don’t want the prayer, but it doesn’t feel that way from the non religious patient. It feels awkward, innapropriate, and odd. Maybe for some religious patients too, I don’t know.

Did you say how you feel about it, I might have missed it in the answers? Do you think it is ok? What if the doctor was Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, Hindu? Does it matter what religion the doctor is for how the prayer might be recieved?

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’m sure his intentions are good but I think he should wait until he knows what peoples religious beliefs are before introducing the idea of prayer before treatment. Like @JLeslie said, if a person is not religious they may feel very uncomfortable with prayer and the last place a person needs to feel more uncomfortable than they may already is a medical environment.

Aster's avatar

@JLeslie How do I feel about it? I think it’s strange but sweet. I do not consider it wrong. Just odd. Her friends who she told are hoping to get sick so they can go to him! LOl
Actually, I don’t think a Muslim, Hindu or Jew would ever consider praying for a patient but it’s conceivable a Mormon would, don’t you think? I suppose we have Hindus and Muslims around here but I’ve never seen one that I know of and have not had anyone mention they know one.
As far as “does it matter what religion the doctor is for how the prayer might be received” I can’t answer for others. I am just pretty sure that he will get few rejections from knowing the Christian vibe in this neck of the woods (literally).
@Leanne1986 yes, I can imagine that a non=religious person would or may feel uncomfortable. I wonder if he has considered this? He may not care. Praying may be so important to him that he’s willing to take that chance.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster Muslims seem to pray a lot, so I don’t know if you mean you can’t imagine a Muslim doing it in your neck of the woods? Or, that Muslims don’t usually ask to pray with others for such things? For instance Dearborn, MI has a lot of Muslims, so what if someone wrote a question just like yours, about a Muslim doctor who asked patients if they want to pray before a shot or procedure? Let’s say his clients are 80%+ Muslim. I am not trying to be argumentative with you, just trying to put you into the minority position. I guess where you live it is probably over 90% Christian, so it might not be a big deal, and people might find comfort in it. I get that.

But, I blow it up into a bigger issue of people from small communities like that wanting to make policy and legislate for the larger society that is very different than their corner of the country. I don’t want to hijack your Q down that tangent into another discussion, just saying where my mind goes.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie I’m agnostic, leaning towards atheist. I may have felt a little uncomfortable as a child when I was asked to pray at my best friend’s dinner table (her family is Mormon), but now that I’m an adult I understand that prayer is only meant as a kind gesture and I don’t have a problem with it. A prayer only lasts a few seconds and it’s all in good faith. I really find it hard to believe that many atheists have a problem with a few seconds of good thoughts. It doesn’t hurt anyone. Why do you think so many people (atheists) are uncomfortable with this? It’s not like the doctor was forcing his religion on the patient. He did ask if it was ok. An atheist can say no thank you if it’s really going to bother them. I just don’t understand what there is to be afraid of here.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond I agree as an adult it is just something other people do, lasts a second, and generally is no big deal. I only use afraid regarding the OBGYN for myself. If I go to someone’s house for dinner and they ask everyone for a moment while they pray before a meal, no big deal. But, when I am paying for my appointment at the doctors office, I really don’t want to be asked to pray, it is not appropriate in my opinion. Remember, above, I mentioned I am fine if a doctor prays before he begins surgery, my surgery, or prays in the morning before his day begins, but I want him to do it on his personal time, and not try to actively involve me, because it makes me uncomfortable. Injecting religion into everything is quite annoying to me to be honest. I have very very religious friends and relatives who believe deeply in the power of God, and they do not walk around saying, “have a blessed day,” and inject God and prayer into every second of the day. My MIL has Mary and Jesus and crosses and beads in her house on display, and she crosses my now Jewish husband when she says good bye to him, because we live far away and she won’t see him again for a long time, and it does not bother me for a millisecond, I find it loving, and her home is her home. I’m guessing even she, at the doctor, doesn’t see a place for outward expression of religious beliefs at the doctor’s office.

Aster's avatar

” I really don’t want to be asked to pray, it is not appropriate in my opinion.”
It very well might not be appropriate but he does not ask anyone to pray.

JLeslie's avatar

@Aster I see your point. Just him doing it in front of me in my exam room is innapropriate, especially because the prayer involves me. Involves what he is doing to me. It is so not a part of how I function that it is very very odd and uncomfortable for me, and for something as simple as a shot? He needs a special pray for that? Or, a moment of meditation to administer it well? It isn’t life saving surgery.

I guess if I lived in a community or country where prayer is expected I could get used to it and ignore it, and maybe that is how it is in your community so it does not seem that odd. If I lived in Saudi Arabia and everyone prayed before everything (I have no idea if it is really like that there) I would just accept it as the culture. But, in America I really don’t like to be subjected to it in a place that should not have a religious overtone.

Aster's avatar

Well, fortunately you’d have the right to not go to this doctor. There are one hundred others, at least, to choose from who don’t pray!

whitenoise's avatar

As most people, especially kids, I do not go to a doctor to be in a religious setting.

Yet when we come there, most of us will be in a vulnerable situation. To use that situation for prayer seems like a very inappropriate thing to do.

Now, if the doctor advertises as a religious doctor that does what he does, then I assume people that come there would appreciate his praying.
I would stay away, though.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther