Biden Targets Catholics
The decision by the Biden administration to revoke the federal accreditation of a Catholic hospital system in Oklahoma, as a consequence of the presence of a sacred candle in a hospital chapel, has been rescinded.
According to Fox, last Friday, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm that represents the Saint Francis Health System, disclosed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified the hospital system of its decision to retract its earlier warning and allow the sanctuary candle to remain lit.
Lori Windham, who serves as a Vice President and Senior Counsel at Becket, stated that “the government has come to its senses and given up on its bid to compel a hospital in Oklahoma to extinguish a small candle or discontinue providing care to elderly, disabled, and low-income patients.” Windham further added that the HHS has informed Saint Francis that they can continue to keep the sacred candle, a symbol of life, burning in the hospital chapels.
Why is the Biden administration even targeting a Catholic hospital over a small candle anyways? Seems like a massive waste of time and taxpayer dollars.
The HHS announced its decision to withdraw its punitive action against Saint Francis Health System on Friday, shortly after Lori Windham sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and other senior officials at the agency. In the letter, Windham cautioned that Becket was ready to file a lawsuit on behalf of the hospital to protect its use of the sacred candle.
Becket had to step in when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an HHS subagency, refused to back down from its decision in April that the sacred candle represented a fire hazard. The CMS had warned that unless the candle was removed, Saint Francis Health System would lose its authorization to receive Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“You have threatened to deny accreditation because Saint Francis keeps a candle — an eternal flame — in its hospital sanctuary,” Windham explained.
“For 15 years, that flame has burned without problem or concern in Saint Francis Hospital South in Tulsa; and for 63 years, the eternal flame has burned at Saint Francis Hospital Yale Campus, the largest hospital in the state of Oklahoma, without problem or concern,” she added.
Saint Francis Health System is one of the largest hospitals in the United States and ranks 12th in terms of size. The hospital system treats approximately 400,000 patients every year and has provided over $650 million worth of free medical care in the past five years. With over 11,000 employees across seven different facilities located throughout Oklahoma, Saint Francis Health System is a significant contributor to the state’s economy.
President Biden and his administration reached a new low by targeting a Catholic hospital for practically no reason.
A delegation of lawmakers from Oklahoma, which included Republican Senators James Lankford and Markwayne Mullin, as well as Republican Representatives Kevin Hern, Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, Stephanie Bice, and Josh Brecheen, expressed their support for the Biden administration’s decision to retract its previous warnings.