The Medical Profession’s War on Christian Ethics
By John M. Grondelski
Over a quarter century ago, Richard John Neuhaus coined the phrase “the naked public square” to describe efforts to drive religiously influenced values and their adherents out of public life and policy making. Neuhaus foresaw the intolerance of the “tolerant” hanging out a “practicing Christians/Jews please check your values here” sign. He also rightly pointed out that a naked public square was inherently undemocratic, disenfranchising the vast majority of Americans who did not voluntarily submit to a values tracheotomy, while leaving an ever-shrinking “society” of a minority to pretend that its little echo chamber was the “public consensus.”
Neuhaus looked at the big picture. I think we also need to examine what is occurring in sub-societies. I’m concerned about the “naked public ward” at the local hospital.
In the Journal of Medical Ethics blog of February 26, Brian Earp asks “Does religion deserve a place in secular medicine?” There are lots of people whose answer would be: “no!”
With all due respect, I’d rather ask what gives one school of “medical ethics” the right to decide?
Bioethics is, after all, a relatively recent phenomenon. It came to be more and more prominent starting in the 1970s.
Which is not to say that there were no bioethical dilemmas earlier. Catholic moral theology had a long history of a subfield called “medical ethics,” in which lots of ink had been spilled by the time bioethics began to come into its own. Nor should anyone be surprised: hospitals after all were—like universities—Catholic inventions.
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