Saturday, September 01, 2007

Milking a church cash cow

Excerpted from Media Transparency
Dr. James W. Holsinger, President George W. Bush's nominee for Surgeon General has been a controversial figure in the United Methodist Church (UMC) for decades (Berkowitz, 2007; Clarkson, 2007). He was elected through the efforts of a well-organized group of activists (Swecker, 2005), along with two other conservatives, to the church's Judicial Council ("supreme court") in May, 2000, which gave the Council a rightwing majority (MFSA Plumbline, 2004). Holsinger has been the President ("chief justice") of the Judicial Council since 2004. During the years that Holsinger has been on the Council, a number of unprecedented and divisive rulings have been made (Astle, 2007; Matthews, 2005).

The litigation involved the sale in 1995 of a 330 bed UMC hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, to a for-profit corporation and the disposition of the $20 million realized from the sale (Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals, 2005). The hospital's trustees refused to hand over the proceeds to the rightful owners, the Kentucky Annual Conference (KAC) of the UMC (Mistler and Guilfoyle, 2006). Instead, the self-appointed trustees placed the $20 million into a fund under their sole control in an undisclosed location. Then the trustees proceeded to form six corporate subsidiaries, including one (www.charityball.Inc - a non-functioning URL) that was incorporated in Alaska (Alaska Department of Law, 2004) and Wisconsin (Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing, 2007). Additionally, in direct conflict with the stated values of the UMC (UMC, 2004a;b) the trustees engaged in gambling fund-raising ventures, one of which lost $27,500 (GuideStar, 2007).


A nomination by the President to be Surgeon General is a high honor. The first Surgeon General was appointed in 1871. The holder of the office is often given the moniker, "America's Doctor." A Surgeon General is our chief health educator, overseeing the work of the 6,000-member U.S. Public Health Service (Office of the Surgeon General, 2007). It is an important position that requires the highest ethical standards and personal conduct. Before Holsinger is confirmed, the Senate must ask serious questions about his ethics, especially regarding a seven-year-long lawsuit against his church during which he served as "chief justice" of the UMC's "supreme court."Read article...

So what we have here is Bush appointing another crony with an unethical past and an all too friendly relationship with the religious right... Is anyone suruprised here?

No comments: