Right For The Wrong Reasons
Dr. Gary Merrill of Christian Medical Services, a Christian pediatrician in Bakersfield, California turned away a child with an ear infection because her mother has tattoos. According to a sign posted on his office:
“This is a private office. Appearance and behavior standards apply.”
This refers to a "dress code" of sorts that Dr. Merrill enforces in his office, in which no tattoos, no body piercings, and a host of other requirements based on his Christian faith are necessary to receive treatment. Now, obviously Dr. Merrill is running a private office, and has the right to establish whatever criteria he wants for it- restaurants, after all, can enforce their own dress codes, and most business establishments have at least a "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policy. So I have no problem with Dr. Merrill not wanting to sully his office with the "unclean" masses who have engaged in some form of body modification (although I'm not sure if he allows ear piercings, and if so, why there's a difference- after all, there are a number of fundamentalist Christian women I know that will not pierce their ears). Hell, he could even explicitly preclude any atheists from treatment for all I care. There are many other physicians, and certainly plenty of them are competent, and not quite so discriminating.
But then P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula made a good point- according to Christianity, Jesus told a parable in which a man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead- and two individuals who were too concerned about staying away from "unclean" people passed right by, while someone who was divorced from the official Jewish religious system went beyond expectations to heal and help the victim. The parable is represented thusly in Luke 10:
Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands? And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."
As there is a clear directive from Jesus to show mercy to anyone, regardless of their social status, it seems pretty clear that Dr. Merrill isn't being completely consistent with his Christianity. So even though I support Dr. Merrill's exclusionary policy as a statement of his freedom to do business with whom he chooses, it seems that he's doing so for all the wrong reasons.