Recently, someone left a copy of BACK TO GODHEAD magazine in the Meditation Room of the Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) in Baltimore. Rev. Cliff Harrison, chairman of the hospital's ministry committee, did not appreciate the anonymous gift. In fact, in a letter to the Baltimore chapter of ISKCON, Reverend Harrison wrote that "such materials will be immediately removed." He referred to an official hospital policy, which states, "HCGH is a nonsectarian institution committed to … individual choice of religious preference." Policy further provides that "standard Bibles will be kept at each nursing station" and that "distribution of religious pamphlets, literature, etc." is forbidden.
Now, if the hospital allows only one scripture, how is freedom of religious preference to be exercised? If, as Reverend Harrison claims, HCGH is nonsectarian, why should it not allow spiritual writings other than the Bible? Do only standard Bible followers require hospitalization? The First Amendment provides for equal treatment of every religion, without prejudice. In the spirit of religious freedom, we humbly suggest that HCGH provide sufficient shelf space for literature from various religions. A small spiritual library in the Meditation Room could offer a real choice without violating anyone's privacy. ISKCON of Baltimore hereby offers HCGH enough standard Bhagavad-gitas to accompany the Bibles at the nursing stations. This should go a long way in helping the hospital maintain its commitment to what Reverend Harrison referred to as "individual choice of religious preference."