If you’re scheduled for surgery in New Brunswick, Canada, bring your own Bible if you need a source of comfort – one hospital has removed copies of the Good Book from patients’ bedside tables in order to control infection.
“We have disinfection processes to disinfect other surfaces, but we don’t have anything to disinfect books,” Jane Stafford, a spokeswoman for the River Valley Health Authority, which operates the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, explained to Canada’s CBC News.
Chalmers is a 350-bed facility with over 140 physicians and 2,000 nurses, health care professionals and support staff in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“The influenza virus, when you cough or sneeze, can live on hard surfaces for 48 hours,” says Stafford.
While Chalmers officials defend their decision by pointing to other hospitals in western Canada that removed Bibles years ago, it doesn’t sit well with Rev. Karl Csaszar, president of the Fredericton Chapter of the Canadian Family Action Coalition.
“If the Bible is a threat in a drawer, where does it stop?” asks the pastor of Fredericton’s Skyline Acres Baptist Church. “Is it possible for these germs to reside and live on lampshades, curtains? You see what I’m saying.”
Fredericton’s mayor, Brad Woodside, echoes the pastor’s criticism.
“I think it’s political correctness at its extreme and I’m rather disappointed,” he says. “To me, it’s absolutely ridiculous. I’ve had a number of calls on it from people that are concerned.”
Stafford insists the ban is medical and not ideological, saying patients are welcome to bring their own Bibles and use the hospital’s chapel at any time.
In 2003, the Calgary Health Region (CHR) found itself in a firestorm of protest over a reported plan to remove Gideon Bible’s from a patients’ rooms. While the health provider denied any such plan, the Calgary Herald stood by its initial report and published portions of a CHR draft policy it had obtained:
“The random distribution of religious tracts, pamphlets, objects and books will
not be permitted in the health care facilities of the Calgary Health Region. The display
of sacred texts, religious tracts, pamphlets and books will not be permitted in the health
care facilities of the Calgary Health Region. Sacred texts of one faith to the exclusion
of all others will not be provided in patient rooms.”