Biden Administration Wants To Snuff Out Chapel Candle

There is a minuscule candle flickering, enclosed by rose-colored glass and topped with a brass lid, securely resting on a tall, slender stand. This candle consistently illuminates the chapel of a Catholic hospital in Oklahoma, serving as a symbol of hope and faith for the patients receiving treatment there, many of whom live below the poverty line.

The Biden Administration seeks to extinguish that flame. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) enlisted an independent agency to perform a safety assessment. This agency subsequently reported to the DHHS, declaring the candle a potential fire hazard. As a result, the DHHS has directed the hospital chapel to extinguish the flame or risk losing Federal funding.

The DHHS ultimatum implies that the hospital would be deprived of Medicare and Medicaid payments. Over the past five years, SFHS has received $650 million from these funds, making such a setback devastating for both SFHS and its patients.

The hospital belongs to the St. Francis Health System (SFHS), which oversees five hospitals in Oklahoma. Barry Steichen, serving as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of SFHS, describes SFHS’s mission as providing compassionate and spiritual care to people as an expression of gratitude towards God.

The SFHS hospitals employ a workforce of over 11,000 individuals. Steichen emphasizes that the fundamental principles of SFHS are based on the connection between their work and their faith in God, symbolized by the candle.

According to Steichen, the DHHS demand presents the hospital system with a dilemma: to choose between providing medical care for those in need and the freedom to worship God in the chapel. He asserts that these two concepts are inseparable.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending religious freedoms, has engaged lawyers to respond to the DHHS on behalf of SFHS. They assure strong legal action against the government if the DHHS persists in its request. As a result of the threats of litigation, the Biden Administration has since retracted its stance.




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