The other morning a request for Last Rites came, asking that I meet up at the Emergency Room. A family member was told that zero visitation is allowed because of new rules just then imposed. A security guard made his presence felt. I asked about giving the non-Covid-19 patient an extremely abbreviated form of the Last Rites used in just such circumstances. No way. We were told to move next to the parking lot, about 75 feet away from the entrance.
Not wanting to let this go, I googled the phone number for Governor Cooper’s Office here in North Carolina. He’s notorious for his outrageous discrimination against anything religious. I explained to the nice lady on the phone that I wanted an emergency intervention by the Governor’s Office with the hospital, so that I might provide Last Rites, you know, because bureaucratic red tape doesn’t otherwise hurry up even for death. I mentioned how Vice President Pence said that the rules have exceptions in end-of-life circumstances, allowing both family and ministers to attend to the dying.
“Oh! I’ll put you through to someone who can help with that!” chirped the nice lady at the Governor’s Office ever so joyfully. *Ring* – *Ring* – It was the Department of Justice which picked up.
In other words, the Governor’s Office entrenched in disrespecting religious ministrations, even Last Rites, and wanted me to go ahead and try to get an emergency hearing from the Supreme Court of North Carolina and then, I suppose, the Supreme Court of the United States. But there’s no time even for that. Emergency for the court system is not the same as the emergency of death.
Meanwhile – hahaha – it seems that the Governor’s Office had a quick change of heart and forthwith called the admin at the hospital and told them to just let me do it so that it doesn’t go viral on the media and such. The Governor has already been smacked down by a Federal Judge. The admin guy sent a nurse out to invite me to come in and give the Last Rites. ;-)
The squeaky wheel and all that, right? This turned out good for the patient, this time. But I’m sure this is a new policy. And I’m really not so sure that other ministers would insist on religious rights for whatever the various faith communities do, and that generalized comment might well include quite a number of Catholic priests.
It seems to me that the religious powers that be should get up with the political powers that be and agree together that unalienable rights provided by God such as those enumerated in the first amendment are to be respected. I’d like to see legislation providing criminal penalties to those who disrespect the free exercise of religion.