Holy ghost? New York Times offers a faith-free profile of an American doctor who survived Ebola

This week, The New York Times published a scoop on its front page — the first interview with Ebola survivor Dr. Ian Crozier:

PHOENIX — The medical record, from an Ebola case, made for grim reading, but Dr. Ian Crozier could not put it down. Within days of the first symptom, a headache, the patient was fighting for his life. He became delirious, his heartbeat grew ragged, his blood teemed with the virus, and his lungs, liver and kidneys began to fail.

“It’s a horrible-looking chart,” Dr. Crozier said.

It was his own. Dr. Crozier, 44, contracted the disease in Sierra Leone while treating Ebola patients in the government hospital in Kenema. He was evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Sept. 9, the third American with Ebola to be airlifted there from West Africa. He had a long, agonizing illness, with 40 days in the hospital and dark stretches when his doctors and his family feared he might sustain brain damage or die. His identity was kept secret at his request, to protect his family’s privacy.

Now, for the first time, he is speaking out. His reason, he said, is to thank Emory for the extraordinary care he received, and to draw attention to the continuing epidemic.

But the Times presents Crozier’s story with no mention of faith or terms such as “God” or “Christian.”

That prompted a GetReligion reader who emailed us to suggest that a holy ghost might be haunting the piece:

I suspect there’s a good size God-shaped-hole/religion ghost in the NYT A1 profile Ebola doctor Ian Crozier, who’s returning to Africa to fight the disease after weeks on life-support at Emory.

There seems to be a conspicuous hole in this story right where his *motivation* ought to be. The only tiny clue in the story itself: “His mother, Pat, spent most nights at the hospital. She spoke to her son, hummed hymns and every day read him a poem.”

In the story comments, a Times reader who identifies himself as “Rev. Jim Johnson” says:

My wife & I have known the Crozier family as good friends for about thirty years. We had the privilege of having them as part of our church family and Ian’s father was one of our family doctors. Dr. Ian is every bit like his parents. From a child he was at the top of his class. He was scholarly, disciplined, kind & friendly. He had a heart-felt desire to go back to Africa to assist the needy. We have been pleased to follow God’s healing and praise the expertise of the medical staff at Emory.


So is there a ghost? Good question. In my Googling, I couldn’t find anything more concrete on Crozier’s faith — or not.

I did find a television report on Crozier sharing his story of survival this week in San Francisco. In that video, the doctor describes himself as “very, very grateful to be here, literally.” I noticed — and maybe I’m overanalyzing semantics — that he didn’t use the word “blessed.”

At least on the surface, Crozier — unlike some other survivors — does not appear to use language that would indicate he wants faith to be a part of the story. If you come across reports that suggest otherwise, by all means, please share the links.

I’ll close with this final thought from the GetReligion reader:

Maybe he’s left the faith of his parents. Or maybe he’s a Christian missionary doctor and has reasons for not putting God front-and-center in his public message (I can think of a few). Or whatever. But is there a legit reason to leave out this facet of background from a profile piece like this?