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Feature Readers Respond

What readers thought about declaring religious belief as a competing interest

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2174 (Published 18 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2174
  1. Birte Twisselmann, editorials and obituaries editor, The BMJ
  1. btwisselmann{at}bmj.com

Should those involved in public debate declare relevant religious views? A recent contentious article generated nearly 40 responses, as Birte Twisselmann summarises

“If you have a religious faith that is not apparent and you are participating in a debate on an issue affected by religious belief, such as abortion or assisted suicide, then you should declare that competing interest even if your views conflict with those of your religion,” wrote Jane Blazeby and Richard Smith recently in The BMJ.1

Their opinion, that disclosure is essential for the public to appraise information in context, generated much debate, including 39 responses on bmj.com to date,2 with many raising objections. Several respondents rejected the term “competing interests” in this context, insisting that religious views differ from financial biases. “Religious belief is presumably informing what the practitioner …

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