Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Update: Religion allowed in VA care, court rules

"MADISON —Taxpayers cannot sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for incorporating religion into its health care programs for the nation’s veterans, an appeals court has ruled. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and three of its members have no legal standing to bring the case." So begins this story from the greenbay

"Annie Laurie Gaylor, the group’s co-president, criticized the ruling but said an appeal to the Supreme Court was unlikely. She said the group would look for VA patients who object to their treatment to be potential plaintiffs but said such a case would still be difficult to win.“The courts are moving to the position where government can fund religious activities and endorse religion without restraint,” she said. “It’s really very disturbing.”

Normally I would go along with a separation of church and state suit, but this time I think the FFRF is out of line. Way out of line. This isn't about telling school children to pray to Jesus, or teaching creationism or some such. This is about veterans. In the hospital. No way I'm going to tell people who put their bodies between me and harm's way that they can't have whatever solace they can get from whatever they worship. If they're laying there in pain, perhaps terminally ill, they can have my tax dollars for a chaplain or faith-based counseling. They've earned it.


jUUggernaut said...

This has nothing to do with whether someone 'puts his or her life on the line'. Either it's constitutional or not. But here as so often a day in court is denied for procedural reasons, such as "no standing".

Joel Monka said...

Are you saying that it's unconstitutional to have chaplains in the military?

Chalicechick said...

I don't object to any of the practices this group was suing over, I'll admit.

That said, while I'm OK with veterans who WANT to go into a faith based alcohol or drug treatment program getting to, I am really uncomfortable when judges do the "Go to AA or go to jail" choice given the faith-based nature of AA. (Yes, I know it's only BARELY faith-based and in a non-denominational way. But still...)


Joel Monka said...

I share your discomfort with that one, CC. The trouble is that there is no such totally secular national organization the judge can point to. If we want to eliminate all faith based organizations from the public arena- which appears to be FFRF's goal- we'll have to spend the time and money to replace them. I can't imagine that happening.

Chaplain Virginia said...

Health Care Chaplains work for the hospital as members of the health care team, not for any one church. The word "religion" is not useful here, and chaplains who promote any one religion should be fired. Every philosophy acknowledges some concept of body, mind and spirit, using words from their own paradigm. For humanistic, free thinking, or agnostic, there is still a concept of the life force. Chaplains are present to address issues of life and death, hope and fear, pain and joy, helping patients find their inner strengths for healing. Chaplains are well grounded in their own faith with appreciation of the many religions and cultures they encounter. Only in response to patients' expressed needs, the chaplain can provide prayer and counsel, and assist in rituals and faith practices with respect for religious freedom and rights. There is no unconstitutional intrusion or proselytizing. Providing for the spiritual needs of the hospitalized does not in any way violate the constitution.

Bill Baar said...

A patient always has the right to refuse any kind of care.