Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 14:11:16 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 20, 1996 nn nn
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 14:11:16 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 20, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#135 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/20/96
In This Issue...
* Taxpayers Giving Away Medical Facility To Church?
* On The Campaign Trail...With Mostly A Prayer
* TheistWatch: Enlightenment, Satisfaction
* About This List...
CATHOLIC CORPORATION MAY TAKE OVER LA COUNTY HOSPITAL
Cash-strapped Los Angeles is selling off assets; but the beneficiary of
such bogus "privatization" may not be taxpayers, but rather religious groups
which have moved into the lucrative, government-subsidized field of health
care. Last week, it was announced that a Roman Catholic hospital chain known
as Catholic Healthcare West has emeged as a "leading contender" to take over
operation of LA county's famous Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center. Described
by the Los Angeles Times as a "crown jewel in the six-hospital county health
care system," the facility would be turned over to CHW complete with an
operating agreement and 10-year lease.
Catholic Healthcare West currently operates 35 hospitals; the Times noted
that the corporation "is said to have the inside track" in negotiations to
lease the facility, although two other corporations are said to be under
consideration as well. They are: Daniel Freeman Hospitals, which has
established a business partnership with the USC Schools of Medicine,
Dentistry and Gerontology, and S.K. Ching & Associates, a private
partnership. Neither group is church affiliated.
An AANEWS investigation into Catholic Healthcare West raises serious
questions about the propriety and constitutionality of transferring a public
facility like Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center to a religious organization.
Who -- and What -- is Catholic Healthcare West ?
CHW is essentially one of many corporate bodies which operate as part of
the Roman Catholic Church. Although it is legally incorporated as a
not-for-profit health care system, it has accumulated assets of over $4
billion and posted earnings of $3.1 billion. Over 6,500 physicians are
affiliated with Catholic Healthcare West, which has holdings in California,
Nevada and Arizona.
CHW is "sponsored" by three Church religious orders which include the
Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of St. Dominic and the Daughters of Charity. In
1986, the Sisters of Mercy formed Catholic Healthcare West; the corporation
was joined in 1988 by the Sisters of St. Dominic. In May, 1995, the company
picked up another sponsor, the Daughters of Charity National Health System, a
corporation which had been formed in 1986.
The health care field is one area where the lines between private
enterprise, government money and corporate dominion have often become
blurred, even non-existent. Catholic Healthcare West is no exception.
While publicity materials of CHW and the respective founding groups
emphasize their religious origins -- in one case going as far back as 1233,
12 years following the death of the Founder of the Dominican Order -- present
day concerns appear to be more worldly and suspect.
One example concerns laws which permit religious groups, under a
non-profit status, to issue tax-exempt bonds for purposes of raising
revenues. In May of this year, California State Treasurer Matt Fong
announced two separate sales involving a grand total of $268,000,000 in
tax-exempt revenue bonds for CHW, which were issued through the California
Health Facilities Financing Authority -- a body chaired by Mr. Fong. At the
time, Fong declared, in a statement from his Office of the State Treasurer,
that "The primary uses of bond proceeds will be to refinance ten debt issues
belonging to eight hospitals being merged into the Catholic Healthcare West
$24,000,000 worth of the bonds were used "to construct a replacement
hospital facility for Robert F. Kennedy Medical Center in Hawthorne," another
While the bonds all received triple-A ratings from Moody's and Standard &
Poor's, as tax exempt instruments they naturally enjoyed the same privileged
status as government, tax-free bonds.
CHW has also received good treatment at the hands of the Federal Trade
Commission. In 1992-93, Catholic Healthcare West enjoyed a dispensation from
the usual waiting time requirements which apply to corporations planning
mergers of acquisitions. An FTC notice issued on Jan. 15, 1993 listed CHW as
one of a number of corporations for which certain rules had been waived; that
action was permitted under a subsection of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust
Improvement Act of 1976.
Worldly & Spiritual Kingdoms
Los Angeles County authorities may be crossing the line in considering
turning over any portion of the county healthcare facility to a religious
corporation. Despite its rather substantial worldly revenues and
machinations, CHW's "Mission Statement" insists:
"Catholic Healthcare West is committed to fostering the healing ministry
of the Catholic Church and the Sponsoring Congregations. In a spirit of
collaboration...(CHW) acts as a catalyst to strengthen existing ties, to
stimulate new linkages in Catholic health care ministry in the West, and to
provide leadership in voicing concerns of Catholic health care at the state
and national level."
Among the "concerns' of religious hospitals, though, may be services which
are not provided due to theology -- such as abortion.
AANEWS has also received a letter from an American Atheists member to the
Los Angeles Times which discusses the proposed takeover of "Taxpayer-owned
property by an arm of the Catholic Church." One concern was that CHW would
"acquire vast expanses of walls and hallways from which it would hang
crucifixes, religious pictures and position statues and other symbolic
artifacts." Other objections included the fact that everyone from patients
to staff members would be a trapped, "captive audience to religious
intimidation and propaganda in a publicly-owned institution."
The objections and concerns may be right on target. The CHW "Mission
Statement" adds that "Throughout the organization and in all its activities,
it (CHW) will seek to extend Christ's healing, to manifest Judeo-Christian
values, to contribute to a caring environment, to promote justice and to
affirm the dignity of each person."
The case of Catholic Healthcare West typifies a trend, and problem, which
now exists throughout the nation.
As governments scramble to "privatize", an increasing amount of social
services are being farmed-out to religious groups. From health care to
drug-rehab, soup kitchens, food and clothing programs, day care and other
outreaches, government funds -- often in the form of "community block grants"
and other schemes -- are resulting in bulging religious and church coffers.
Indeed, religious groups have become a major "intermediary" or professional
administrator in the providing of social services. Even giant "charity"
operations like Catholic Charitities, Inc. now receive the bulk of funding
from government grants of one form or another.
But the "dual mission" of such religious groups -- including Catholic
Healthcare West -- remains a problematic one. Should a non-profit, religious
corporation enjoy special status in the form of tax-exempt bonding authority,
or operate public facilities? Is there an inherent conflict between the
religious objectives outlined in the CHW statement, and the presumably
secular purpose which LA County must practice in providing a heath care
outreach? Critics insist that there is, and that government has no right to
"give away the store" to private, religious groups. They also insist that
religious groups cannot operate such programs in a consistent, secular
Legislation at the federal level would make it considerably easier -- and
more lucrative -- for religious groups to take over social outreach programs
at public expense. The latest Welfare Reform Act included a special
provision that enjoins government from "discriminating" against religious
organizations when it awards grants and contracts. Critics point out that in
the past, this "discrimination" involved concerns over clear First Amendment
violations which mixed tax monies with religious proselytizing. The
dangerous trend of privatizing social services by bringing in religious
charities -- as in the case of Catholic Healthcare West and its takeover of
Rancho Los Amigos -- continues, and needs to be challenged.
On The Campaign Trail...
CANDIDATES UNABLE TO LOCATE FIRST AMENDMENT?
During the recent GOP national convention, AANEWS lamented the obvious
fact that no candidate seemed able or willing to declare that he or she might
happen to possess lingering taints of First Amendment secularism and civil
libertarianism. We might expand that to include just about anyone now
running for high public office, including Democrats and even Reform Party
* President Clinton celebrated his 50th anniversary visiting the sites of
two church burnings, and insisted that the alleged arsons were "a test of our
character as a people." Creating a photo opportunity for media, Clinton --
decked out in jeans, utility gloves and carrying tools -- pounded nails along
with a volunteer crew helping to rebuild the Salem Missionary Baptist Church,
which was burned on December 30. Also helping was wife Hillary, Vice
President Al Gore, censor-crat wife Tipper and four of their five kids.
* Even the conservative Washington Times did a double-talke at some of the
festivities during Bob Dole's campaign tour stunts. The paper quotes Deborah
Orin (N.Y. Post) who noted that a GOP rally in Denver featured funk-rap
lyrics by the group Jakarta, famous for: "One, two, three, four -- get your
woman on the floor. Gotta, gotta, gotta get up to get down." Would 'Liz
Dole -- or even Tipper Gore -- approve?
* The flurry of autopsies on the San Diego GOP convention still continues
to yield interesting facts and insightful quotes. For instance, one-third of
delegates described themselves as evangelical or born again Christians, a
figure which AANEWS observers rate as low. And the Chicago Tribune adds:
"Some in (the Christian Coalition) suggest that as many as 500 delegates were
coalition members." That figure may also be low, considering the presence of
the CC "war room", that directed a network of over 1,000 "pro-life" delegates
on the convention floor.
* Reform Party founder and Candidate Ross Permot has made public his
admiration for the late Father Divine and his "Father Divine's Peace
Movement" based in Philadelphia.
* Whither next, for the Coalition? It's on to Chicago, for the August
26-29 Democratic National Convention, where the group will hold a
"Celebration of Life" anti-abortion rally and begin the Herculean task of
organizing whatever anti-choice forces are in that party. CC Director Ralph
Reed muses that the GOP convention was "not the high point of our movement,"
and sees activities at the Democratic shindig as part of a "long march." Has
Ralph been reading the quotations of Mao?
* Pro-lifers in the GOP are still reportedly angry at the treatment they
received from Republican Chairman Haley Barbour and his minions, and agree
with Phyllis Schlafly that the convention "didn't have enough pro-life
leaders on the podium." Will they stay within the GOP? A lot depends on Pat
Buchanan. He was being courted by Howard Phillips, a Christian
Reconstructionist and head of the US Taxpayers Party. USTP has now had to
settle for Phillips as its 1996 presidential contender, and may end up at the
bottom of the religious right feeding chain this year. But Schlafly sees a
bright side, and told the Chicago Tribune that "Pro-life conservatives have
the platform and they have two pro-life candidates, so they certainly have
had an impact."
* That impact involves contributing about 5,000,000 new votes to Republican
candidates in 1994, according to David Frum of the Manhattan Institute.
* Larry Sabato, professor of government at the University of Virginia and
a veteran observer of the Christian Coalition, says that moderates lack the
kind of organization within the GOP which religious conservatives have been
building since the mid-1970's. "The moderates aren't voting anymore," he
noted. He also suggests that GOP leaders sent the religious right "a very
clear message at this conventio0n...They're the activist core and they're
going to have to learn the same thing African-Americans have learned in the
Democratic Party...I think African-Americans realize that when they are too
prominent and visible in the Democratic Party, then the party has trouble
attracting white voters and winning."
Added Frum: "I think the big question is: Will the Christian Right consent
to become a normal part of the Republican Party?"
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Talk about stubborn. AANEWS has informed readers that despite Supreme
Court cases and laws against school prayer, many school districts
(particularly in the South) simply ignore the First Amendment and carry on
the practice. A similar problem exists in Germany, too. Reuter news
services reports that crucifixes remain hanging in Bavarian school
classrooms, despite a year-old ruling from that country's supreme court
against the practice. The paper "Die Welt" says that out of 50,000 school
classrooms, there have been only 13 applications to take down the
sado-masochistic religious icons -- and only six of the appeals actually
Who said that Buddhist mumbo-jumbo has anything to do with actual
In Thailand, two women who once vowed as Buddhist nuns to stay together
until death, have ended up marrying the same, somewhat overjoyed man. Viroj
Boonbamrugnsilip, who used to describe himself as a "once broken-hearted man
and believed that he would never marry, tied the knotin a simple temple
ceremony with Amphorn Chaluaysrimuang, 32, and Nookal Ramangthong, 23. The
former said: "Nookal and I took a vow to live together until death and to
have the same husband," but noted that her friend was "devastated" at Viroj's
marriage proposal. Even so, Viroj says that both women are "equal in my
eyes" and plans to have two children with each of his brides.
The "ghost month" is underway throughout much of the "enlightened"
Buddhist world, as people begin offering food and drink to ghosts and other
midnight cemetary dwellers. The period from August 14 to September 12 is
particularly auspicious and supernatural, believe some. Superstitious
parents admonish their male offspring not to marry during this time, warning
that a bride will be transformed into a ghost if the wedding takes place
during this period. Change jobs during the Ghost Month, and you risk being
dragged under water and killed if you happen to be swimming. And currency is
burned along with clothing, house hold items and other objects, to provide
the necessities for "homeless ghosts."
The big winner in this outburst of public ignorance seems to be merchants
who crank up the advertising in anticipation of Ghost Month, knowing that
believers will be spending bucks for perfectly good consumer items which end
up as so much ash.
About This List...
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