Institute for Science and Human Values
Perspectives on Dying and Death Symposium
“Dying Without Deity”
Hospitals and Hospices ignore the needs of more than 20% of their patients.
Tampa, FL - Oct. 24, 2014 - Even though the Pew Research Center has found that one-fifth (20%) of the USA public and a third (33 1/3%) of adults under 30 are religiously unaffiliated, most hospitals and hospices insist on having religious Chaplains available while ignoring the needs of non-theistic, secular humanist, atheist and agnostic patients.
While a September 2014 Pew Research report indicated that 72% of the American public has concluded that religion is losing influence in American life, the CEO’s of America’s hospitals and hospices continue to ignore this reality.
According to Joe Beck, Florida’s first Humanist Chaplain and Founder of Florida’s Humanists of the Treasure Coast, "hospital and hospice literature mention the existence of non-denominational theistic chaplains but fail to mention the existence of supportive services from an openly secular humanist perspective.” Mr. Beck believes that medical facilities providing a clearly identified secular support person helps to validate the secular patient's life stance and brings comfort to those patients.
The Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV) has been approached by nursing home directors explaining that their secular patients are not being provided for, by either the facility or the patients’ families. They wonder how they can help. “I have comforted those who are frightened to identify as non-theist for fear that proper medical care will be denied them when they find themselves requiring hospital and hospice stays,” states Toni Van Pelt, ISHV President. “We know many secular humanists’ wishes are denied by their families concerning burial and funeral services.” she continues.
To date there has been little discussion and less research as to how widespread these problems are and what can be done to provide support for non-theists in this, their greatest time of need. To this end ISHV is sponsoring“Dying Without Deity” Perspectives on Dying and Death Symposium, at Columbia University, April 10 and 11th, 2015. Visit www.ishv.net for further details and to register.