One more plug for Michael Shermer’s lecture and book signing tonight at Harvard University’s Science Center in Cambridge, MA, USA! See yesterday’s post for directions. 6pm!


One of the good things about some religions is the way they encourage people to donate their time and money to good causes. Sadly, all too often these efforts are hampered by an organization’s desire to convert the heathens they’re supposed to be helping. In many regions, proseletyzing can turn away the people who most need help, and sometimes get people killed who do convert. This article in today’s Boston Globe details the problems faced by a Christian hospital in Pakistan, where good medical equipment and personnel are going unused thanks to the hospital’s stated goal of converting Muslims.

Though hospital spokespeople seem to be claiming that the primary goal is to provide medical relief to suffering people, a huge component is obviously conversion, as evidenced by the Jesus movie playing in the lobby and brochures that say the key to stopping terrorism lies in converting Muslims to Christianity, an idea that I know just inspired a massive concurrent eye roll among my audience.

So in a region where the US is seen as a potential threat, what’s the best way to get in and help people while spreading the word that we are not there to kill them and destroy their culture? Sending in Christian missionaries, obviously.  The hospital is funded by President Bush’s faith-based initiative, and by “faith-based” of course we mean “Christian faith-based,” since those organizations take up about 98% of the funding. This is the result of that initiative — an empty hospital playing a movie about Jesus, for no one.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Call me naive but wouldn't it be better if American Muslims took some of the faith-based funding and set up a hospital? People would get treated and as a bonus America suddenly doesn't look so foreign and unfriendly to local Pakistanis.

    Of course best of all would be an end to faith-based funding and just letting a hospital be a hospital …

  2. Why can't faith-based initiatives get the funding they need from their followers, rather than the government?

    Not to mention that running a hospital is not a religious endeavour. So why insist on tacking on religion like it was some unpopular piece of legislation you wanted to sneak through congress by attaching it to something everyone approves of? Let religion stand (or fall) on its own merits. And let medical assistance be what it is without undermining your own efforts by insisting people subject to your whims before helping them. Because that's not really helping at all, it's preying on the weak and the needy, and the exact opposite of what christians are supposed to do.

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