First the Schools, Now the Hospitals

  You might say 60 Minutes was on the prowl. The granddaddy of TV news magazines has a reputation for investigative reporting. I know; I've been subject to it. And to keep its image intact, its reporters go looking for villains to expose every week. One day it's Mike Wallace, ripping into some hapless culprit; on other days it's Ed Bradley or Lesley Stahl. On one memorable broadcast last month, it was Morley Safer doing the honors. His victim? The Roman Catholic Church. Safer wanted Americans to know that four out of ten of the nation's largest health-care systems are controlled by the Catholic Church, and that "religious doctrine is part of the deal." Well, that may not seem shocking to most of us, but there's more. At these health facilities you probably won't be able to get condoms or other contraceptives, and abortions are not performed. Shocking? Morley Safer seemed to think so, but maybe we ought not be surprised. There's been great pressure on Christians in recent years from various court rulings that have taken down the Ten Commandments and declared prayer unconstitutional. The government has been at it for years. But now, the most intense pressure is coming from cultural forces: programs like 60 Minutes and others in the media. The pressure not to talk about our convictions is growing daily. We've seen this especially with the homosexual movement. Christians run clinics for patients with AIDS, but if we say that homosexuality is a sin, we are labeled "homophobic." And many in secular society like the work we do in the prisons. But if it appears the work is explicitly Christian, then they don't want us to talk about it. But the problem is, of course, that people in secular society want the services we provide; they just don't want the beliefs that go with them. They're more than willing for Christians to run the hospitals, but if the values upheld by those hospital are actually Christian, they say they're illegitimate. Well, they can't have it both ways; their position is untenable. The hospital administrators who spoke on that 60 Minutes broadcast were right on a couple of counts. They were right about the sanctity of life. The Bible makes that clear. They are also right to say that hospitals founded and funded by religious organizations ought to be able to provide services on their own terms. This is the case we need to make to our neighbors, and we can do it if we patiently explain our position. Some years ago, an angry donor wrote me, telling me that he appreciated our work in the prisons but that he didn't like my stand on biblical inerrancy. If I didn't change it, he said, he would stop contributing. Well, I wrote him back and told him that it's my belief in biblical inerrancy (that he didn't like) that motivates my work in the prisons (that he did like). I said they both come from the same convictions. He must have figured it out, because the next letter contained a larger contribution. And that's the approach we need to take, whether it's 60 Minutes or anyone else. These critics aren't evil; they're just foolish. It's actually laughable, and we need to point out the logical fallacy in their position. If society wants the good things Christians provide, then they'll need to accept the beliefs that make them possible. Who knows, maybe even the media will see the light. For further reading: Safer, Morley. "God, Women, and Medicine." 60 Minutes, 10 December 2000.


Chuck Colson



  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary