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Religious Conscience and Secular Rules



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Over at The Atlantic, Megan McArdle goes into beast mode over the argument by many on the Left (her target is Kevin Drum) that, because, e.g, Catholic hospitals often receive federal grants, they should have to play by the same rules as secular hospitals:

I’ve seen several versions of Kevin’s complaint on the interwebs, and everyone makes it seems to assume that we’re doing the Catholic Church a big old favor by allowing them to provide health care and other social services to a needy public.  Why, we’re really coddling them, and it’s about time they started acting a little grateful for everything we’ve done for them!

These people seem to be living in an alternate universe that I don’t have access to, where there’s a positive glut of secular organizations who are just dying to provide top-notch care for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed.

In the universe where I live, some of the best charity care is provided by religious groups–in part because they have extremely strong fundraising capabilities, in part because they often have access to an extremely deep and motivated pool of volunteers, and in part because they are often able to generate significant returns to scale and longevity. And of course, the comparative discretion and decentralization of private charity, religious or secular, makes it much more effective in many (not all ways) than government entitlements.  

In this world, I had been under the impression that we were providing Catholic charities with federal funds mostly because this was the most cost-effective way of delivering services to needy groups.

That’s spot on. More here.



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