Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Bible as disease vector?

"Gideon Bibles" are standard "equipment" in hotel rooms and many hospital rooms. They are so common we rarely think of their function, which is described this way by their distributor, Gideons International:
The Gideons International serves as an extended missionary arm of the church: Our sole purpose is to win men, women, boys and girls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through association for service, personal testimony, and distributing the Bible in the human traffic lanes and streams of everyday life.
Now the University Hospitals of Leicester, National Health Service trust in the UK will consider whether these ubiquitous and mostly ignored items will be available on demand only, not as a default (The Guardian; hat tip, James). Two considerations are at issue. The first, whether the continued presence without cleaning or other disinfection of such an object might contribute to hospital-acquired infections, especially the much feared and increasingly prevalent Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus (MRSA) organism. The second consideration is whether the presence of unwanted sectarian literature in the environment of anxious and uncomfortable patients might be offensive and add to their discomfort.

Regading the charge that the Gideon Bible was a disease vector, the organization commissioned the opinions of medical consultants as t whether they presented a MRSA hazards. Verdict: no problem.

I guess the UK has its own version of Faith-based medicine. Or is it Faith-based disease?

Additional note: Daily News Central Health News has an additional tidbit about the origin of the name Gideon in a story about the (predictable) brouhaha over this proposed action. It seems one of the missionary society's evangelical founders chose the name Gideons "after the hero of chapters six and seven of the Old Testament book of Judges. The Biblical Gideon slaughters his enemies in battle but was chosen as a figure who placed faith and obedience to God before his own judgment."

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