by AT New Team
Two hospitals operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland received a "leader" rating by the Human Rights Campaign, a national nonprofit organization in the United States working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, in its Healthcare Equality Index. A key focus of the campaign is hospitals who refuse to extend to same-sex couples the rights and privileges that they extend to traditional families.
Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital, both located in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC, were given "HEI Leader" ratings in the 2013 index released this week. This means that the hospitals were evaluated by the campaign as meeting all eight of the standards in the index.
The campaign's Healthcare Equality Index asks if a hospital publishes and/or posts a non-discrimination policy or patient bill of rights and if that document includes the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity; if the hospital's visitation policy explicitly grants equal visitation to LGBT patients and their visitors and if that visitation policy is communicated to patients and employees; if the hospital has an employment non-discrimination policy that includes the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity;" and if hospital staff receive "training in LGBT patient-centered care."
The teaching of the denomination is that homosexual behavior is condemned in the Bible and church members are asked to refrain from such behavior whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity may be. The hospitals and other community services that Adventists provide are designed for the general public and only a small percentage of the patients and employees are church members.
Another example of the Adventist Church both maintaining its traditional standard on sexuality and establishing a positive relationship with the LGBT community was reported in July 13 issue of the Royal Gazette, the major newspaper in Bermuda. The Rainbow Alliance, an LGBT organization in the island nation, criticized a statement by Member of Parliament Marc Bean "that gay marriage would lead to moral disruption" in society during a discussion last week on the television station operated by the denomination.
In contrast to their negative comments about Bean, the organization issued a statement that "praised the 'respectful manner' [in which] the Seventh-day Adventist Church spoke on the issue," the newspaper reported. It quoted the statement as saying that the Church "offered open arms to all individuals, which is in line with the Rainbow Alliance's focus on providing safe spaces for the LGBT community."
"You can maintain a firm and strong position as to what is right for yourself without getting into criticism, verbal or nonverbal, of another person, or attempting to instruct another person how to live," a veteran pastor told Adventist Today. "I believe God asks me to live according to certain standards and one of them is to extend compassion and hospitality and friendship to all who cross my path, so that means a very 'narrow path' in the footsteps of Jesus when these volatile, sometimes painful issues come along as they have now."