A dental problem came up, and so for the first time since I moved here I made arrangements to see a dentist at the Veterans Administration.
Asked if I had any preference for a dentist (I assume the receptionist was angling after young/old, male/female, something like that), I told her I wanted an atheist dentist.
As it happens they have one, though the receptionist was decidedly non-plussed and asked me "why an atheist?"
So I told her. I wanted a dentist that relied on his or her skill, education, training, experience and such rather than prayer or miracles to accomplish dentistry and pain management. (I didn't say "I don't want God mucking around in my mouth.")
Last week I had a tooth pulled. The dentist did not subject me to an hour of religious patter while trapped in his chair, like in the past at other VA and Navy dental clinics, a refresher. (And technically unlawful.)
He also was far more sympathetic to the problem of dental pain (I assume this is from the Christian idea that suffering is God-given and somehow character-building.) That means I didn't get told to buy ibuprofen for my tooth pain, I got real pain medicine.
Yesterday I came back from the dentist again (because the extraction resulted in a dry socket, something I have never experienced before and is roughly the equivalent of the severe auto accident I was in several years ago). Again sympathetic treatment, and proper pain management.
I should have thought of this years ago, to ask for dentists or physicians who are atheists. That will be one of my first questions from now on.
I had no idea that dentists made that information available. Good luck with that dry socket - I suffered through that for several weeks once. It's about as comfortable as sucking on a cattle prod ... I would imagine, anyways.
Glad to hear it. Gives me more courage to ask for an atheist doctor.
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I think you have the right to the choice. On the other hand, what you are saying is similar to other forms of discrimination. I don't know how to sort these out.
A dentist, or doctor, or any other professional should not discriminate in any way shape or form against their patients / clients, including religion/not, race, gender, sexual orientation, and number of toes. On the other hand, it is you who are choosing, not them. Also on the other hand, I understand where you are coming from, having had some bad experiences from christians in positions of power and authority.
I thought of this, as an analogy:
Again, not condemning, and really understanding, the desire to have a kindred spirit in the dentist's role, but it's not simple for me.
p.s. James, glad to see you on Nexus. Seemed like you were away for a while. Glad you are here.