Row erupts over Gold Coast hospital "reflection room"
Christian groups are up in arms over a decision by Queensland's Gold Coast Hospital to turn its Christian chapel into a multifaith "reflection room" but Southport's parish priest, Fr Peter Pillon, is backing the decision.
According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, critics are pointing to the decision as a further move to de-Christianise the health system after Queensland Health last year ruled that bedside Bibles were available only on request.
Under the Gold Coast Hospital plan, Muslims will be able to pray to Mecca alongside Christians praying to the Holy Cross.
It is not clear whether there will be religious icons for Buddhists, Hindus and Jews.
Opposition health spokesman and Surfers Paradise state MP John Paul Langbroek said yesterday the decision was clearly designed to avoid offending non-Christians.
He said all Christian iconography would be removed from the Gold Coast Hospital chapel, a suggestion rejected by Queensland Health, which said Christian symbols would sit alongside Muslim items in the new prayer room.
"The chapel is a place for everyone, regardless of religious conviction, to go and seek comfort during trying times," Mr Langbroek told the Bulletin.
"People make use of the hospital's chapel and chaplaincy services usually at a time when they need it the most. To suggest someone might be offended by this is ridiculous.
The Reverend Fred Nile said the decision was a disgrace.
"This is a Christian country and Christian chapels should remain," he said. "The hospital decision-makers should be ashamed of themselves."
However, Anglican Hospital chaplain Fr Sid Rogers said the new arrangement catered to a greater diversity of religions.
"It's a mountain out of a molehill," he said yesterday.
"This started when we began to look at ways to improve our service at the new (Parklands) hospital.
"We will be keeping the chapel as it is but making allowances for certain groups."
Further support for the hospital's decision came from Southport Catholic parish priest Fr Peter Pillon, and Gold Coast councillor, and high-profile member of Southport Church of Christ, Rob Molhoek.
Opposition came from the Coast's Scripture Union and Christian Community Church.
Chapel also a mosque (Gold Coast Bulletin, 21/3/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Gold Coast Hospital
Southport Catholic Parish
22 Mar 2007