FiveThirtyEight’s Anti-Catholic Hit Piece

 

FiveThirtyEight ran a piece criticizing the prevalence of Catholic hospitals in rural communities with only one hospital in town. This scenario, to the authors, poses a dire situation: “What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?”

Their formulation of the situation sounds dire — as if religious hospitals and priests deny standard medical care. But when you dig into their evidence, you find it’s nothing more than the “dreadful situation” posed by the Obamacare lawsuit Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, it’s all about abortion, contraception, and family planning. FiveThirtyEight does throw in end-of-life care to differentiate themselves.

The best part about the piece, they even acknowledge they can’t prove that religious hospitals are bad:

It’s difficult to know what services are and are not available at each of these facilities because interpretation of Catholic doctrine is done locally by individual bishops and decisions are often made on a case-by-case basis.

And the rest of the article follows a predictable pattern of anecdotal evidence that Catholic hospitals are “bad,” with statistics on how those same hospitals are taking over rural America. It’s a classic in the anti-religious genre.

People are always dying in the streets.

More to the point though, it’s an anti-Catholic screed masquerading as data-journalism. We’re supposed to take it more seriously because of “data” and weak anecdotal evidence.

It’s another data point of a progressive/secularist society trying to force religion to conform to society.

We should be praising the fact that Catholics and other religious groups are putting hospitals in these rural communities and providing much-needed care! If these groups weren’t there, medical care would get harder to find for these communities.

Secularists consistently ignore the basis for why we try to accommodate religious beliefs as a society. The first reason is the most obvious: The First Amendment. But the second reason is far more profound for Catholics, Christians, and other people of faith: It’s that their Creator, their God, directed them in the way they should live their life. Forcing them to go against those constructs forces them to sin, to violate their faith and go against their God.

That’s an incredibly critical hurdle that secularists skip past.

The choice isn’t a policy one for people of faith. It’s one of conscience. When you force a person to violate their conscience and their God, you’ve told them to elevate the secular above God. It’s akin to idol worship.

US Courts call these “sincerely held beliefs,” and they don’t question the faith or the sincerity of those holding the beliefs. If you started disputing the sincerity of all beliefs, you might as well start at square one and debate the very existence of God. And this isn’t the task of courts.

That’s why the Founders ingeniously gave us the First Amendment with the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause.

In masterful detail, Stanford Law Professor Michael W. McConnell details the history of religious accommodation in America going back to the founding in a law review article, “The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion.” The law has changed since his 1989 study, but the history is accurate.

The first account he relates is that of a Catholic priest being sued by state prosecutors in the early 1800’s to share what a man charged with a crime confessed to the priest. The Priest refused because he was forbidden by God to reveal the confession.

Ultimately the court ruled in the priest’s favor, granting an exception, giving us an example of the priest-parishioner privilege. But it also gives us an early precedent of how seriously our courts and founding society treated faith-based claims.

And from that priest’s case to the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases, you can trace a rich history of protecting religious expression in our society.

What’s proposed by FiveThirtyEight and the secular left is coercing people with sincerely held beliefs to violate their faith to achieve public policy ends. They’re not offering neutrality in laws and public policy; they’re elevating the lack of faith above genuine faith.

The US Supreme Court warned against this attitude long ago in Zorach v. Clauson (1952), saying in part:

We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses. We make room for as wide a variety of beliefs and creeds as the spiritual needs of man deem necessary. … When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs. To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe. … [W]e find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion and to throw its weight against efforts to widen the effective scope of religious influence.

And that’s the crux of that FiveThirtyEight piece. They’re trying to sound an alarm that the government is needed to throw its weight against the Catholic church in expanding its reach in medical services. This level of animus towards religion is wrong and unconstitutional.

What would happen if Catholics were forced to choose between violating their faith or providing care? You’d likely see hospitals close over such an authoritarian demand, especially if they lost lawsuits over the matter.

Catholic groups have encountered this same issue in other areas like adoption, home services, and marriage counseling. The Canadian Supreme Court just took this exact line in denying a religious law school the right to exist because of their beliefs, and now law students have less choice in law schools.

If you’re religious and not willing to toe the progressive secularist line, you have to shut down. In the end, that denies needed services to everyone.

The FiveThirtyEight piece indicates in several sections that if not for the Catholic hospitals in some rural communities, those cities and towns would have no medical care. The article then spends the rest of its time blasting the Catholic church, encouraging policies that would force those hospitals to shut down.

Instead of attacking religious groups for entering the medical market, we should probably encourage more of them to provide medical care to rural communities. Or, if the left wants choice in these communities, secularists should open their own medical facilities. I don’t see that happening though.

There are 17 comments.

  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    The left has a religion, that of their will to power

    • #1
    • July 26, 2018, at 5:10 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Steve C. Member

    To paraphrase the recent Supreme Court ruling about contraception,

    If this particular health service is so damn important, there are easier ways for the state to accomplish that goal than hi jacking (enslaving?) a third party.

    • #2
    • July 26, 2018, at 5:17 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. Full Size Tabby Member

    Wait – I have been reading elsewhere that the crisis of rural medical care is that hospitals are closing, and medical care is consolidating into regional cities. A closed hospital provides no medical care to its local community. Would these people rather have no medical care available rather than have medical care that doesn’t include abortion? Actually, they have answered in the affirmative many times in the past on projects to subsidize medical care.

    • #3
    • July 26, 2018, at 6:03 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. Full Size Tabby Member

    From the side of the person with religious views, those religious views may be what motivates the person to do something like medical care in the first place. The person can’t separate the motivation to do medical care from his belief about how the medical care should be provided, and what is or is not in the scope of the medical care. If the government requires the person to practice medical care in a way that violates the person’s beliefs, the person may decide that he’s not really called to do medical care, and step away from the idea entirely, thereby depriving his potential future patients of his care.

    Same thing with feeding the poor, providing foster child care or child adoption services. People motivated by conscience or religious views to “do good” may conclude they are not so motivated if the government demands that they set aside those very conscience or religious views in order to provide services. 

    • #4
    • July 26, 2018, at 6:14 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. Mate De Inactive

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The left has a religion, that of their will to power

    Why people don’t see that leftism is religion is beyond me. Also it is a faith that allows no dissent, or apostasy. They shun anyone who leaves their faith and will allow no argument against their “god”. It is so obvious based on their behavior, I don’t know why so many people don’t see it.

    • #5
    • July 26, 2018, at 6:34 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    The left has a religion, that of their will to power

    And Abortion is one of its highest (lowest?) sacraments.

    • #6
    • July 26, 2018, at 6:40 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. OkieSailor Member

    Daniel Vaughan:

    People are always dying in the streets.

    Obviously, streets are very dangerous. People should avoid all streets. Or maybe we should just outlaw streets ;>)

    anyway, back to reading your post……..

    • #7
    • July 26, 2018, at 7:18 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Ekosj Inactive

    I guess my problem is one of definitions. Why is abortion, or birth control, ‘health care’? Since when is pregnancy an illness, a malady, a disease? Nothing is broken. Nothing is wrong. Biologically, everything is working up to spec, as designed.

    The nearest analogue would be a woman wanting to get her little toes removed so that she could more comfortably wear Christian Louboutin or Jimmy Choo high heels. I suppose if you wanted it done you’d want a surgeon to do it. But that wouldn’t make it health care. It’s a convenience. Nothing more.

    • #8
    • July 26, 2018, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. OkieSailor Member

    You are correct that they are elevating the Secular over Religion. They do this because of their Faith in Secularism. They genuinely believe there is no God, or that He, if He exists, doesn’t involve Himself in human affairs directly. Therefore the sensible thing, to them, is to act as if He doesn’t exist. The logical end of that line of reasoning is, believing themselves to have obtained superior knowledge, to force others to conform to their superior understanding of what is ‘the greatest good for the masses’. So, in their minds they are fully justified in cajoling, pressuring, and then mandating conformity to whatever ‘rules’ and norms they have lately decided to formulate. 
    As to the damage done in causing hospitals and other organizations to cease operating, they believe it would be far better to have them replaced at taxpayer expense since those organizations could be directed to follow current Secular Dogma without all the messiness of having to convince the Rubes of the necessity of change and so on. 
    This is nothing new, it has ever been thus. The very rare exception historically has been the Liberty granted by our Founders in the US Constitutions bulwarks against having the majority run roughshod over various minorities. And make no mistake, we are now in the minority, due to 70 years or so of Secular Dogma dominating education and the media. Unless that is somehow reversed expect the new majorities to become increasingly intolerant of non-conformists, especially those who justify their non-conformity on religious grounds, but not confined to only them. 

    This does not even mean that one group is wrong or right in their beliefs, it simply means that the near universal human proclivity for majorities to dictate behaviors has not been diminished by the Liberty experiment that is America. The question of ‘rightness’ is a separate one, majorities don’t determine what is right but they do commonly determine what is acceptable. 

    • #9
    • July 26, 2018, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. Knotwise the Poet Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Wait – I have been reading elsewhere that the crisis of rural medical care is that hospitals are closing, and medical care is consolidating into regional cities. A closed hospital provides no medical care to its local community. Would these people rather have no medical care available rather than have medical care that doesn’t include abortion? Actually, they have answered in the affirmative many times in the past on projects to subsidize medical care.

    Somebody on Ricochet recently did a post about Leftism and their idea of cleanliness, and this fits into that. Despite the obvious good done by the hospitals, the fact that they are run according to traditional religious principles nullifies all that and makes them a problem. Last night I was reading scripture verses about how a bad tree cannot produce good fruit and a good tree cannot produce bad fruit. The regressive Left see traditional Christian religion (and I’m going to throw in free market capitalism) as inherently bad or corrupted trees, so any seemingly good fruit produced by these things must be outweighed by the sinister things lurking under the surface (in the case of traditional Christianity it’s the refusal to participate in killing babies, in the case of capitalism it’s unequal financial outcomes and possible accumulation of wealth by non-leftists).

     

    • #10
    • July 26, 2018, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  11. Basil Fawlty Member

    Daniel Vaughan: FiveThirtyEight does throw in end-of-life care to differentiate themselves.

    End-of-life care?

    • #11
    • July 26, 2018, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. tigerlily Member

    Another example of how the Left loves diversity except diversity of thought.

    • #12
    • July 26, 2018, at 4:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    So, what real consequences must be imposed upon ABC and FiveThirtyEight? What are you doing to end the career of the author as a bigot, who is acting consistent with the principles of the party of the KKK? Which Republican officials are you pinning down to permanently label these bigots as #bigots, with the same consistency as #fakenews is called out and labeled? This is the only way the death cult does not win.

    • #13
    • July 26, 2018, at 5:12 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Joseph Stanko Member

    We’ve all seen the dramatic scene play out on TV a thousand times: the ambulance screeches to a halt in front of the hospital, sirens blaring. Attendants wheel the patient on a stretcher down long drab corridors and into the Emergency Room. A young intern enters, looking tired but serious, and asks urgently:

    Intern: What have we got?

    Nurse (reading from chart): Male, 23, unmarried, suffering from extreme sexual tension!

    Intern: Quick, hand me a condom, stat! 

    • #14
    • July 26, 2018, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    Daniel Vaughan:

    in Zorach v. Clauson (1952), saying in part:

    We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being….

    Pretty amazing that this was written by William O. Douglas, who, as Bob Dole once said, suffered from “bad judgment from a matrimonial standpoint,” among other rather questionable behaviors.

    • #15
    • July 26, 2018, at 7:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Joseph Stanko (View Comment):

    We’ve all seen the dramatic scene play out on TV a thousand times: the ambulance screeches to a halt in front of the hospital, sirens blaring. Attendants wheel the patient on a stretcher down long drab corridors and into the Emergency Room. A young intern enters, looking tired but serious, and asks urgently:

    Intern: What have we got?

    Nurse (reading from chart): Male, 23, unmarried, suffering from extreme sexual tension!

    Intern: Quick, hand me a condom, stat!

    Starring Leslie Nielsen?

    • #16
    • July 26, 2018, at 11:27 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Old Bathos Member

    What if I need access to news and information and the only provider is biased, agenda-driven, incompetent and mean-spirited? What if I need education for my kids and the only provider is biased, agenda-driven, incompetent and mean-spirited? What if ….

    • #17
    • July 27, 2018, at 9:47 AM PDT
    • 2 likes