A physician’s long battle for biblical values, public health, and freedom of expression in his workplace has come to a conclusion. After more than 10 years of tension and conflict over his hospital’s institutional endorsement of LGBT activities, urologist Paul Church lost his final appeal to the Board of Directors of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to reconsider the hospital’s decision to expel him and terminate his medical privileges.
That appeal was Church’s last chance to stay at BIDMC. The board’s final judgment on Dec. 8 dashed that hope—and confirmed the extent to which social ideologies have infected the nation’s medical field.
Church, a member of the BIDMC medical staff for 28 years and part of the adjoining Harvard Medical School faculty, received the news via email. He opened the message with a flicker of optimism—the board had taken more than two months to deliberate, so perhaps the members had reached a stalemate. But when he read their decision to uphold his expulsion, effective immediately, he let out a sigh of disappointment.
After conferring with his attorney at Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit law firm, he ultimately decided not to continue his battle in the Massachusetts judicial system.
“We kind of reached a dead end,” Church said, quickly adding God’s “still on his job.” Despite his initial disappointment, Church said he feels satisfaction that he did his best and “fought the good fight.” From now on, it’s up to God to continue the battle.
For about a decade, Church was one of the lone voices among the BIDMC staff to protest the hospital’s proactive agenda to promote the LGBT movement. As one of the nation’s top health facilities and a major teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School, BIDMC ought to be more sensitive and responsible about the kind of sexual and moral behaviors it champions, Church argued through emails and intranet comments to his higher-ups and fellow staff members.
He considers it an issue of both public health and freedom of expression for BIDMC staff members who hold a diversity of moral and religious values.
“It’s like a baby food company sponsoring an abortion company,” Church told me recently, still aghast at BIDMC’s public endorsement of LGBT events such as the Boston Gay Pride Parade. “Or like having a cigarette advertisement on a medical journal. It makes no sense!”
But BIDMC was more focused on his “offensive” and “unacceptable” words toward the gay community, rather than his medical concerns about the health consequences of LGBT activities or even his right to express personal beliefs. After several tense meetings with Church, a 25-member Medical Executive Committee made up of hospital staff voted on March 15 to expel him and revoke his medical privileges at the hospital. It also reported him to the Board of Registration in Medicine, which may affect his ability to renew his medical license in two years.
So far, Church, now 66, has lost his position at two of the three hospitals in which he worked for almost three decades with no official complaints from patients. The second hospital denied him reappointment, which is decided every two to three years, for no apparent reason other than his dispute with BIDMC. Church is up for reappointment at the third hospital in February, and he’s bracing himself for another possible denial.
Church has considered retirement, but he’s unwilling to make that decision just because he’s been “pushed out.” He’s now looking for other hospitals to accept him, and he recently joined a committee at the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI), a professional organization made up of academics and health professionals who advocate for the right of religious belief and diversity for therapists and clients dealing with sexual orientation issues.
Despite all the financial and professional troubles, Church said it didn’t ruin his Christmas. All his family—including his two daughters and six grandchildren, ages 6 months to 18 years—visited him and his wife in suburban Boston. He got to watch two of his grandchildren dress up as a sheep and Joseph in the Christmas pageant. Nobody discussed money issues or his career plans.
“This became a reason to feel wonderful about Christmas for all the right reasons,” Church said. “The important things are still intact in my life, so I shouldn’t complain.”
Going forward, Church said he’s praying that God continues to write the narrative in a powerful way.
“I’m praying this doesn’t get lost in complacency or intimidate people even more but hopefully empower and enable people to have more success than I did in engaging society as salt and light,” he said. “We shouldn’t just roll over, especially on an important issue like this. We shouldn’t play victim but be strong and compassionate.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
Publication date: December 30, 2015