Business owners and employees offer various gifts to their clients and customers, from bottles of wine to tickets to sporting events, and no one complains. Yet, when Christian nurse Caroline Petrie in Britain offered the gift of prayer to a patient, who readily accepted the gift, she was reprimanded as having acted in an unprofessional manner.
In a more recent situation, Petrie suggested prayer to an elderly patient. That patient declined and contacted the nurse's supervisor claiming that, while she was not offended, she was concerned that other patients might be. Petrie was suspended from her job on the grounds of unprofessionalism.
"My concern is for the person as a whole, not just their health," Petrie explains. "I was told not to force my faith on anyone but I could respond if patients themselves brought up the subject."
The World Health Organization is also concerned about the well-being of individuals on a holistic level. WHO, which is the directing authority on the subject of health within the United Nations, defines health as "a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." In its Constitution, WHO goes on to say that:
"The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
"The health of all peoples is fundamental to the attainment of peace and security and is dependent upon the fullest co-operation of individuals and States.
"The achievement of any State in the promotion and protection of health is of value to all. . ..
". . . The extension to all peoples of the benefits of medical, psychological and related knowledge is essential to the fullest attainment of health.
"Informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people."
Those last two paragraphs invite and encourage "active co-operation on the part of the public" to assist in the endeavor to provide care in order to improve the health of all people. This requires "informed opinion" and not religious discrimination against health care workers who attempt to provide care to their patients on all levels.
It is the duty of every health care organization to express an informed opinion about what health means and how to provide care to promote health in its patients, while utilizing "medical, psychological and related knowledge," which could include knowledge of spiritual matters, as our spirits are related to our physical bodies and psyche. Such an informed opinion may require careful consideration about the intent of individual caregivers, such as Petrie, when offering care to their patients. In Petrie's case, she was not forcing her beliefs upon any one, nor was she disrespecting her patients' rights to religious diversity. She simply offered something from her heart that she believed would be of help to improve her patients' well-being. At the time, Petrie may not have been fully concerned about professionalism, because her focus was on the health and well-being of her patients.
Jesus has called every Christian to be the salt of the earth by loving and caring for others.