Favorite

Freedom rings 

One of the scary things about the proposed merger of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and St. Vincent Health System was that it would have forced Arkansas defenders of religious freedom to fight on two fronts. To the ongoing and bitter battle over diverting public-school funds to church schools would have been added an unwholesome alliance between the state's only public teaching hospital and a Catholic institution that could have used taxpayers' money to advance sectarian beliefs.

It was with great relief we learned over the weekend that the UAMS-St. Vincent merger will not come about, UAMS officials announcing that discussions had ended without an agreement. St. Vincent had proposed the "alliance," as the parties preferred to call it, and UAMS officials seemed at first eager to barter away Arkansans' freedoms for budgetary gain. Both hospitals contended they would experience significant savings by combining certain clinical services and sharing management functions. But helping a Catholic hospital save money is no part of the mission of UAMS, and we doubt the Catholic hierarchy, whose approval would have been required for any alliance, would be greatly moved by the idea of saving money for a non-Catholic institution. Certainly the bishops would not be nearly so interested in that as in advancing Catholic beliefs. Those beliefs in regard to abortion, contraception, end-of-life care and other clinical services are not shared by all taxpayers. How a hospital divided on these matters could stand was never adequately explained, being impossible.

(While abortion and contraception have long been contentious, even as they've become more widely accepted, end-of-life care is gaining ground. Four states — Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana — now have "death with dignity" laws, allowing terminally ill patients to request medication they can use to die peacefully. More states will follow.)

We don't know exactly what factors caused UAMS leaders to change their minds. We'd like to think that freedom of religion was involved. Church and state are separate entities in America, by careful design. It's a bedrock principle of this country that no American can be taxed to support someone else's religion. A UAMS-St. Vincent merger would have been challenged in court immediately.

If the hospital question is resolved, efforts to circumvent the First Amendment in another way will continue and likely intensify. Some states have already approved voucher programs, taking money from underfunded public schools and giving it to students who attend private schools, mostly church-related. Voucher programs have been most eagerly embraced in states that have big Catholic populations, and therefore big parochial-school systems, unlike Arkansas. But voucherism has spread even to states like North Carolina. The Republican Party loves vouchers; they're pretty much the signature issue of the current speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. And where Catholic bishops once were by far the biggest lobby for vouchers, the bishops have been joined by influential allies — big-money critics of public schools and teacher unions, and fundamentalist Protestants who want their own schools. Arkansas has plenty of these, and a new Republican majority in the General Assembly. Arkansans who cherish the public schools and religious freedom need gird their loins even tighter.

Favorite

Speaking of St. Vincent Health System, UAMS

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Editorials

  • The end of an era

    We're sad to report that Doug Smith has decided to retire. Though he's been listed as an associate editor on our masthead for the last 22 years, he has in fact been the conscience of the Arkansas Times. He has written all but a handful of our unsigned editorials since we introduced an opinion page in 1992.
    • May 8, 2014
  • A stand for equality

    Last week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel became the first elected statewide official to express support for same-sex marriage. His announcement came days before Circuit Judge Chris Piazza is expected to rule on a challenge to the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Soon after, a federal challenge of the law is expected to move forward. McDaniel has pledged to "zealously" defend the Arkansas Constitution but said he wanted the public to know where he stood.
    • May 8, 2014
  • Same old, same old

    Remarking as we were on the dreariness of this year's election campaigns, we failed to pay sufficient tribute to the NRA, one of the most unsavory and, in its predictability, dullest of the biennial participants in the passing political parade.
    • May 1, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Stay the course

    I am frustrated and angry with those who claim the only chance of future success is for the Democratic Party, especially in the South and Midwest, to abandon speaking directly to women and people of color and the LGBT community and instead focus on the economy and other "more comfortable" topics in order to win back some of the center.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    • As we saw with the raise in the minimum wage and medical marijuana, there are…

    • on December 8, 2016
  • Re: Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    • Ozark,

      What are the Arkansans marching and rallying about? Is this an anti-Trump rally?

    • on December 8, 2016
  • Re: Reality TV prez

    • He won't clean up his act. He won't even try. He's clueless that his style…

    • on December 8, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation