On May 5, I posted an article about the federal government’s attack on Saint Francis Health System, the 12th-largest hospital in the U.S. (article here) The government was threatening to strip the hospital of federal funding unless the hospital extinguished a candle that represents the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty came to the rescue of the hospital, sending a letter to the Biden administration warning that the government’s threat was unconstitutional. Well, the letter did its job.
On May 5, Red State reported the following:
The Department of Health and Humans Services has folded on its demand that Catholic hospitals in Tulsa-based St. Francis Healthcare System extinguish the Eternal Flame candle burning it is chapel Confronted with a lawsuit that it was doomed to lose over an indefensible position contrary to law, HHS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed to grant a waiver to the bizarre inspection finding that concluded that a single beeswax candle on a wall sconce enclosed in glass constituted a fire hazard to patients.
…Because the hospital is Catholic, it has a chapel. The chapel has a candle that burns 24-hours a day. Under Canon Law, the candle has to meet certain specifications (like 50% beeswax). It can’t be replaced with a light bulb or an emoji. Whether the inspector had a hard-on for Catholics or he’d been told to f*** with the “mackerel snappers” is a matter of speculation. But the inspector made a beeline for the chapel and cited the hospital for a fire code violation even though the candle had been in the same place since 1960 without complain or conflagration.
On May 5, LifeNews reported:
“The game was simply not worth the candle for HHS,” Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, the religious freedom law firm representing the hospital, told The Daily Signal in a written statement Friday. “It realized it would be playing with fire in court if it stood by its absurd demand, so it chose wisely. We are glad Saint Francis’s can continue to serve those most in need while keeping the faith.”
Under the Biden administration (and previously under the Obama administration), the government has constantly put pressure on religious freedom. First Amendment rights have been challenged and matters of conscience have been challenged. If we are to remain free to practice whatever religion we choose in America, we are going to have to remain vigilant–the attacks on religious freedom will continue under the present administration.