The Queensland Government has denied that Bibles have been banned from hospital bedsides because health bosses fear they offend non-Christians.
Deputy Premier Anna Bligh said media reports that the Princess Alexandra and Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospitals had stopped Bibles being left by patients’ bedsides were wrong.
“If a patient in one of our hospitals wants a Bible there will be one there,” Ms Bligh said today.
“Policy and practice in relation to Bibles in our hospitals is unchanged and remains as it has been for many years.”
However, Opposition health spokesman Bruce Flegg says a Christian group which supplies Bibles to hospitals has been turned away from at least one Ė the Royal Brisbane and Women’s.
“Information I had quite a long time previous to this coming public indicated there was an active policy of discouraging the placing of Bibles in hospitals,” Dr Flegg said.
“Hospitals are one place where I would encourage the spiritual welfare of people … because people are under stress when they are sick.”
Dr Flegg said he didn’t think the presence of Bibles would cause great offence.
“I don’t think that you would say we are going to remove all of the Bibles in case there’s one or two people of another faith who are offended,” he said.
“It’s this political correctness isn’t it? Let’s remove any reference to our Christian heritage.
“Most Queenslanders, myself included, would absolutely reject that.
“We want to be tolerant with people of other faith but people of other faith who come to Queensland, I’m sure, are also tolerant of our tradition.”
The Sunday Mail today reported that Gideons International, which supplies Bibles to hospitals and hotels worldwide, said it had been banned from leaving Bibles at several hospitals to prevent giving offence to non-Christians.
The newspaper also said a Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital spokeswoman said Bibles were a health hazard because they could spread germs.
Dr Flegg said it was “a bit fanciful” to suggest that Bibles spread illness.
In Melbourne, almost all the main hospitals have withdrawn Bibles.
Royal Melbourne Hospital spokesman Rod Jackson-Smith said Bibles were not banned, but it was considered inappropriate to have one in every room, because there were so many people from different religious backgrounds.
“It is also an infection control measure,” he said.