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Today’s blacklisted American: Biden administration threatens to shut down Catholic hospital system because of a candle

The evil candle that must be snuffed out!
The evil candle that the Biden administration insists must be snuffed out,
or else the hospital must close.

They’re coming for you next: Because the Saint Francis Health System in Oklahoma has always kept a single candle lit in its hospital chapels, Biden administration officials are now threatening to shut down five Catholic hospitals in Oklahoma, citing federal government fire safety requirements.

If Saint Francis does not comply, the government will revoke its ability to obtain any Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) payments for treating patients, in essence blocking those patients from healthcare while threatening the entire Saint Francis Health System with bankruptcy.

In response, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (as legal representative of St. Francis) sent a letter [pdf] in protest, noting that the Biden administration’s goal has nothing to do with fire safety, but to censor and squelch the religious practice of the St. Francis Health System:

You have threatened to deny accreditation because Saint Francis keeps a candle—an eternal flame—in its hospital sanctuary. 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. From the moment Saint Francis opened its doors in 1960, this flame has been maintained without interruption. In requiring Saint Francis to extinguish its flame, you are trying to extinguish not just a candle, but the First Amendment rights of Saint Francis Health System, as well as vital healthcare for the elderly, poor, and disabled in Oklahoma. [emphasis mine]

Even more ludicrous, when the government agent claimed falsely that the candle was a dangerous “open flame” (“despite many sprinkler heads surrounding the candle, good exhaust, the flame’s double glass encasing, the bronze top enclosing the flame, despite its mounting to a wall over six feet high, and despite the surveyor’s knowledge of the fire marshal’s long-standing approval of the eternal flame”), he then claimed that the cigarette lighter that was used in rare instances to relight it was the real problem.

Saint Francis subsequently requested repeatedly for a reasonable accommodation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), all of which were denied.

The facts here reveal the absurdity and downright evil of the Biden administration claim, and tell us its real goal is religious persecution, in direct violation of St. Francis’ first amendment rights. Beckett’s letter demands this order be retracted, or it will sue, with victory almost a certainty. As noted by Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at Becket,

“The government’s demand is absurd and unlawful — it is targeting Saint Francis’s sincere beliefs without any good reason. … The government has a simple choice: either stop this attack on Saint Francis’s faith or expect a legal firestorm.”

The ugly pettiness of the left and the government is in full display with this story. Rational reality has no place in its universe, if it can use any conceived regulation to stamp its boot onto the face of those it doesn’t like.

Are you a Democrat who voted for Biden? Then this is what you voted for. If you find what his administration is doing disgusting, maybe you should rethink your political loyalties. And if you find it okay, then maybe we are finding out how disgusting you are as a person.

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  • Cotour

    Yeah, that candle and candles similar have been demonstrated to be a threat to the integrity and structure of the building as per the new 9/11 fire code rewrites.

  • It is forever a mystery to me why these folks don’t take their case public. Call your State and Federal elected representatives. Call the media. Launch your own media campaign to let the public know what ‘their’ government is up to. Make noise, and go hard on the offensive.

    Progressives are always saying that ‘sunshine is the best disinfectant.’

    Let the sun shine.

  • James Street

    This is a spiritual war. God will end up doing his own weird little thing in his own weird little way.

    Spoiler: God wins.

    “And if you find it okay, then maybe we are finding out how disgusting you are as a person.”

    Red pills for normies now in convenient suppository form.

    Limited time “Coronation Special” for Brits:

  • Blair Ivey: In this case they have now taken their case public, with the press release from Becket. I’m not the only one who has picked it up.

    The problem with going public these days is that the case for conservatives and the religious won’t get any coverage in most mainstream press outlets. Such stories tar the wonders of their leftist beliefs, so they cannot possible exist. They must be dismissed and ignored.

    Thus, going public for this kind of clear persecution by the government doesn’t have the impact it should. Sites like mine can cover it, but I don’t have the audience that places like the alphabets outlets do.

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “The ugly pettiness of the left and the government is in full display with this story. Rational reality has no place in its universe, if it can use any conceived regulation to stamp its boot onto the face of those it doesn’t like.

    As Obama said, reward your friends, punish your enemies.

    Welcome to Obama’s America, land of the formerly free.

  • John

    We’ll choke their rivers with our dead to keep that flame alive.

  • Robert Pratt

    Sounds like we need a bit of old fashioned person to person interaction with a certain inspector. There is such a thing as being too civilized.

  • Robert Pratt: In thinking about this whole affair after posting it, I realized how well it illustrates the ugly corruption that now permeates American society, driven by unformed and bigoted leftists at all levels.

    First you have a government surveyor willing to declare that candle unsafe, clearly for the sole reason he or she despises even the existence of a religious display inside the hospital. This person’s decision was undeniably irrational and hostile to the religion itself, and had nothing to do with “fire safety.”

    Second you have his or her bosses, who not only gladly accepted this decision but defended it repeatedly, for exactly the same reasons.

    Finally, you have the top officials in the Biden administration, led by the president himself, who also see nothing wrong here, and likely also (based on numerous other examples of downright hostility to all traditional religions) support this declared “fire safety violation” because it gives them an opportunity to squelch religious practice they don’t like.

    As I said in the piece, anyone who voted for this either is utterly and shamefully ignorant, or is as evil. And such people now make up a large percentage, possibly a majority, of the population. And if not a majority, that minority has got the majority mostly cowering in fear.

  • GaryMike

    Having been raised in a religious Christian family, I am not a religious person. Never have been.

    Yet I stand in defense of the Candle and it’s custodians.

    Most of my friends are Protestant, Catholic, Jew (one which was a 25-year business partner), and Muslim (one of which was my wife). I’m old enough to be able to properly use the past tense.

    I no longer have atheist friends/cohorts.

    I can’t exist in a one dimensional universe.

  • GaryMike

    In case you wonder, I don’t discount atheism. I’ve participated in that parade.

    From personal experience, I discount atheists.

    I find them largely less friendly people than theists.

    And far these capable at Capitalism.

  • GaryMike

    Autocorrect sucks.

  • David Ross

    I’m going to play the contrarian and dwell upon this threat here: the government will revoke its ability to obtain any Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) payments

    They’re taking Caesar’s coin, and are complaining about having to obey Caesar. I bet they never made much of a peep about treating criminal invaders (who don’t come with insurance) as long as Caesar was paying for the invasion.

  • Col Beausabre

    David Ross, You are making the assumption that they will feel a moral obligation to treat those people (they most likely will) and will risk insolvency because of it. The answer is simple, you don’t treat people without other coverage.

  • Lee S

    Well, as generally friendly leftist ( not the loony left, there is a difference!), And an atheist, this story strikes me as ludicrous.

    Has it been fact checked? As the guy responsible for keeping fire exits clear, making sure extinguishers are topped up, etc etc at work, even here in big government loving left wing Sweden, if the inspection guy came around and didn’t like the open flame I’m 100% sure he wouldn’t demand the removal. He would tell me to remove the risk. My instant thought is install a metal plate behind the candle holder, or even fabricate a metal housing for the whole thing.

    I find this story suspicious, although I don’t have the time to do a deep dive, it strikes me as just the kind of story that would be spread to induce a leg jerk response from the right. ( The right are guilty of spreading propaganda also);It might be worth looking into.

    That said, if I am wrong, there is something very, very wrong over there!

  • Lee S

    Ok, I did do a deep dive, even though I am in the middle of washing the families clothes…

    I have pulled this straight from the PDF linked from the original article..

    ““Elimination of Sources of Ignition” requirements under sections &, which require no open flame within one foot of a nasal cannula and 15 feet of any other oxygen delivery equipment. For hospitals that use TJC accreditation for deemed status purposes, the hospital must comply with the 2012 edition of NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code.
    We recommend that your facility engage with TJC on the plan of correction (evidence of standard compliance) process to address this deficiency. Accrediting organizations (AOs), such as TJC, must meet or exceed CMS’ Conditions of Participation. Since AOs may exceed CMS standards, TJC may consider additional requirements as to what may be acceptable as part of the plan of correction process and may also advise on next steps if an acceptable plan of correction is not received.”

    The fire safety guys don’t want an open flame close to an oxygen outlet…. That seems to make nothing but sense, and the authority is even asking the hospital to contact them for help in completing with a perfectly reasonable regulation.

    Propaganda…. This is a nothing burger of a story. No open flames within 10′ of an oxygen outlet…. But the right wing propagandists are using it as a tool against the left, when it really has nothing to do with politics at all, just a health and safety regulation that non of us would complain about in a sane world.

    Move the candle over there … Problem solved.

  • Lee S

    Ok, I had no idea what a “nasal cannula” was… But after googling it, I wouldn’t want a candle anywhere near me if I was using one either…. Its important to have a good look at these stories. Especially the ones that make you guys on the right ( and us guys on the left )mad.

    I don’t know if you guys have the same term, but in the UK we call them “spin doctor’s”, people who’s job it is to “spin” a story so it has a political bent, regardless of its neutrality. This is a perfect example. A nothing story spun to send the right into rage.

  • Lee S: You are wrong. I did extensive checking before publishing. Moreover, the government, faced with a lawsuit that was certain to win and cost big bucks, late Friday finally admitted its error and backed down.

    Feds back off demand that Catholic hospital extinguish chapel candle

    Your ability to question stories like this is a perfect example why tyrants are winning.

  • Lee S

    @Bob… A quote from your link….

    “A CMS spokesperson told CNA on Friday that “CMS met with the hospital and accreditation organization, and issued a waiver to allow the hospital to mitigate the potential fire risk and correct the safety finding. The hospital will work with the accrediting organization on next steps.””

    The hospital and the regulatory agency met, and sorted the issue out…. It’s a nothing story…

    Quoting you… “Your ability to question stories like this is a perfect example why tyrants are winning.”

    This is more disturbing to me…

    You constantly bang on about the left being unquestioning… Am I wrong in questioning anything you post that I find dubious? I ask the same questions for anything that my left pushes into the media, and double so for your loony left. Your comment implies I should take your posts as gospel truth… As I’m sure you know.. this is never going to happen!

    I’m sure that was a comment phrased in a way open to misinterpretation, and not your meaning, but we have to be careful these days… Words matter! ;-)

  • Lee S: The new rules are absurd. This candle poses no fire risk, and hasn’t for sixty years, a position held by fire marshalls repeatedly during that time.

    The new “accommodations” are merely the government attempting to save face. They are ridiculous as well as petty tyrants, and they must do what they can to defuse that correct interpretation of the facts.

    I have no problem people questioning my reporting. I do have a problem with rationalizing away evil for the sake of politics.

  • Lee S

    Bob…. I would never argue away evil, but I would also argue the fact that given a choice between stupidity and malice, most bad decisions can be put down to stupidity.

    As a very relevant case in point, next week I am going to be installing safety bumpers against the uprights in a section of our warehouse that rarely sees a fork lift truck. It has been fine for the 22 years I have worked there, but the regulations have changed, and fine, it’s a bit of a ball ache for me, but on the whole it’s no bad thing. More safety can’t be. ( No matter how annoying)

    To blame this particular situation we are discussing on some kind of anti religious agenda by your “left” is disingenuous, it is obviously an over enthusiastic response to new regulations… I deal with this all the time… The guys that enforce the regulations love it! They finally have something to do! To scream “leftist fascist conspiracy ” is just wrong. This is a story about ‘health and safety” guys doing exactly what health and safety guys do… The world over.

    It’s annoying as hell for us guys who have to implement the changes, but when I have to fabricate stands so the fork lift chargers are not sitting on the floor ( this happened a couple of weeks ago ) due to a change in the law, I don’t scream “left ( or right ) wing conspiracy ” , I just sigh and do it, and go about my day.

    This is not about the left trying to do whatever you imagine they are trying to do .. it’s about trying to implement regulations. As far as I can see, from everything linked to from here, nobody wanted to close any hospitals… They wanted the candles moved away from the oxygen outlets. That’s it.

    If your a conspiracy theorists you can read into this what ever you want, but from where I’m sitting it all seems hey ho… Another normal day.

  • Lee S: All your story here tells me is that you are the frog being slowly boiled to death, who doesn’t know it.
    Or doesn’t want to know it.

  • Lee S

    @Bob… I would love to meet you and shoot the poop over a beer or two, ( and eat some undoubtedly excellent burgers off the BBQ ), but I doubt we will ever get the chance unfortunately.

    We see this story from two totally different angles… You think the sky is falling in, mainly to the left… I see it as fire safety guys being fire safety guys, and a church getting all butt hurt about it, and playing the religion card.

    Perhaps never the twain will meet, but it is never less than fun to banter and discuss with you… I believe the world is in a better shape than you do… The pendulum is swinging back, and soon it will be us lefties complaining about the “right agenda”… But we are not all doomed… We are a resilient species… And while logic may never prevail, democracy might ;-)

  • Doubting Thomas

    Lees S and Robert – The source article Robert linked to says: ” Since Saint Francis opened its doors in 1960, the health system has had a sanctuary candle with a living flame as an act of worship. The flame, far removed from medical equipment and patients, is shielded by two glass holders, sits on a brass basin, is affixed to a wall and has a brass top covering it, with many sprinkler heads above it. ”

    I’ve never seen O2 tanks or O2 ports in a hospital chapel. This seems like some bureaucrat has gone insane. Perhaps just a nice sign asking people who are on portable O2 to keep away from the burning candle ?

  • pzatchok

    Plus the lit candles in sanctuaries are ALWAYS in the chapel. Far away from any patient rooms and oxy tanks. Which are now outside for the most part.
    I have seen one outside of a chaple door. Again far away from everything but a vending machine.

    In fact the Cleveland Clinic ,which is huge, has a mobile lunch cart with an open flame grill and stove top inside the building. Mobile flames.

    Someone with a little pull complained and started all this.

    The government “came to an agreement” in order to save face. In the end the agreement will be to do nothing.

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