Medicine Meeting Up with Religion

Ya know – this is just the kind of shit I can hardly tolerate hearing about any longer.  I’m just sickened that people in this country cannot figure out that respecting someone’s beliefs, cultural background, etc, will get them further than debasing them.  I’m not talking about practices or beliefs that enslave, maim or degrade women; I’m talking about a general aura of respect for the person.

Here we have a young woman, Hena Zaki, who is 29 years old and a physician.  She is also Muslim and wears a head covering.  She’s also in Dallas, Texas – Plano to be more precise.  Can you just guess what transpired?

While touring an area medical clinic in Dallas, CareNow, during a job interview, the regional medical director apparently interrupted the interview, telling Dr. Zaki the clinic had a “no hat policy” and as such that policy would extend to the wearing of her hijab.

CareNow operates clinics – doc-in-the-box style type places – in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  The particular clinic in Allen where Dr. Zaki was applying for a position offers these services. They are not hospitals or trauma centers.  Dr. Zaki lives in Plano; the CareNow clinic is in the next town – Allen.

Accommodations can always be made; things can be worked around. When in the military I worked in radiology assigned to hospital in Augsburg. There, we had a number of physicians & other employees who were not Christian, some of whom were foreign nationals. In fact, the radiologist I worked under was Hindu.  It’s amazing how the hospital continued to function while the rest of us were celebrating Christmas or Easter.  People made accommodations.  Prior to moving back home several years ago I worked for a radiology group in Ohio where one of our radiologists was Orthodox Jew.  Just like every one else he pulled week-end duty.  It worked out.

I don’t know the motivation behind the regional medical director’s apparent misdirected ‘warning’ to Dr. Zaki.  Perhaps it was some weird passive-aggressive move to demonstrate disgust with someone being different or ‘the other.’  Perhaps it was more of an oblique warning – ‘this is what you’ll encounter should you come to work here.’

However, what’s also worth noting is that Dr. Zaki was only applying for a job. She  is not yet an employee of CareNow.  I would be willing to bet real money she isn’t going to be hired.  E-mails have gone out to CareNow from the Zaki household claiming distress about the ‘no hat’ policy and wanting an apology.  It could be CareNow wanted to avoid the entire inspection of their hiring or workplace practices or restrictions.  This could be advantageous to CareNow.   Something tells me this is going to take some real doing ….

CareNow Chairman Tim Miller, however, has refused to apologize, saying in a statement that there is nothing wrong with the policy, which, according to him, ‘does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin’.


In contrast, The Utne Reader had a blurb in their spirituality section taken from The Tablet on how medical authorities deal with whatever “strict rules regarding treatment of the dead” certain religions have established.  There are rigid expectations in relation to those preparations a body must undergo prior to burial.   Reconciliation of those preparations with the necessity of an autopsy when dealing sometimes with certain circumstances that may be related to criminal behavior and finding a sensitive, sensible solution in dealing with families.

(Jews aren’t the only group to raise such objections; the Amish, Hmong, and many Muslims also try to avoid the procedure.) . . .

Developments in medico-legal technology now allow pathologists to perform “virtual autopsies” as an alternative to traditional, invasive ones. In a virtual autopsy, pathologists use CT scans and MRIs to ascertain details about the insides of a cadaver. Three-dimensional visualizations, many of which are breathtaking, can approximate the body’s condition, allowing coroners to determine the cause and manner of death without making a single incision. It’s also cheaper: the cost of an autopsy runs between $4,000 and $5,000, while a virtual autopsy costs five times less.

Reading this was almost exciting. Respecting the traditions and practices of caring for the dead that differences in culture and/or religion encompass can soften the sharpness of banging up against the hard reality of medicine.books

Not long ago I happened across the Flushing Remonstrance.  According to the charter of the township of Flushing, located in the New York (New Netherland or Holland) of 1645, folks  were promised “the right to have and enjoy liberty of conscience, according to the custom and manner of Holland without molestation or disturbance from any magistrates, or any other ecclesiastical minister.”   Peter Stuyvesant as governor apparently had other ideas.  It was his intent, as well as written direction, to bar Quakers from entering the township.  Some 30 residents petitioned Stuyvesant and issued a call for the freedom to worship as one saw fit placing themselves at risk for fines, imprisonment or even banishment from the community.  December 1657 this was posted in response to Stuyvesant’s order.

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God…..

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks, and Egyptians, as they are considered the sonnes of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage…..

Therefore, if any of these said persons come in love unto us, wee cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences. And in this we are true subjects both of Church and State, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing

The Flushing Remonstrance is said to be the precursor of our First Amendment, and as the petitioners wrote in the language of their time: “The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks, and Egyptians, as they are considered the sonnes of Adams.” Somehow that very message must be conveyed to the CareNows of this country.  The Dr. Zakis although Muslim are American citizens and they deserve the same deference given to them as are given to the good ole’ Christian boys of Dallas that head up CareNow.

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