“Show me the data”

Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB is continuing to hold HHS’s feet to the fire, regarding the way it denied grants to Catholic organizations.

The latest:

When Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tom Cruise yelled “Show me the money” in the movie Jerry Maguire, it was funny. When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) cries “Show me the data,” it is serious.

“Show me the data” is an urgent request from USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services. MRS has long worked with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help refugees, migrating children, and people trafficked to the U.S. for labor and the sex trade. The U.S. Justice Department recently lauded MRS in a brief defending HHS, which is being sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for working with Catholics. Said the Justice Department, as reported in the Washington Post, “the bishops have been ‘resoundingly successful in increasing assistance to victims of trafficking.’”

Despite this, a recent anti-trafficking grant application from MRS to continue serving people caught in the 21st Century’s version of human slavery was denied. MRS asks why?

I have been informed that six organizations applied for anti-trafficking grants from HHS’s Office for Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Four scored so low they did not make the cutoff when evaluated by an independent review board. Two applicants scored well. Heartland Human Care Services scored highest and MRS came in second, very close to Heartland, even after losing points for not being willing to refer for contraceptives and abortions. Yet, after finagling by Sharon Parrott, one of three politically-appointed counselors to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, ORR awarded $4.5 million, spread across Heartland, which earned the award, and United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Tapestri, groups that hadn’t made the grade according to the independent review board.

HHS denies any hanky-panky. Show me the data.

Ambassador Johnny Young, who now heads MRS after a stellar career in the U.S. diplomatic corps, asked for data. Young, an African-American, has seen plenty of racial discrimination. Meeting with HHS’s George Sheldon he noted that he recognized discrimination again – this time because of his Catholic faith. When Sheldon, Acting Assistant Secretary for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, denied the deck was stacked, Young said, in effect, show me the data. No answer yet.

USCCB filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see how these decisions were made. Still no answer.

Read the rest.



  1. Thank Obama.

    “Apparently HHS rules about the benefits of experience and cost effectiveness can be waived,” Sister Walsh concluded. “So can rules about being fully operational by a certain date. What can’t be waived is the new, albeit unwritten rule of HHS, the ABC rule – Anybody But Catholics.”

  2. I’ve seen a number of comments on other posts wondering why Catholics are gravitating to the Republican Party. Well, duh. Also look at the Gallup poll on religion that’s just out this week. Most Democrats do not go to Church/Synogogue or whatever observance one goes to. The majority of atheists are on the left. What we are evolving to are two different parties on religion: those that are religious and those that are not. And it’s the Democratic Party that represents the non-religious.

  3. I look forward to the FOI response. It’ll be interesting. The request I’ve filed have taken about six months to fill.

  4. Henry Karlson says:


    I would recommend you don’t engage things like “guilt by association.” You will find at different times and different places groups are able to be associated together for various reasons without them being fundamentally united or agreeable. Think, for example, how many have tried to label the Pope a Nazi for similar guilt by association claims.

    Moreover, atheism (as Pope Benedict and many others have pointed out) is not a simple thing to grasp; it is not univocal, and many atheists are atheists for good reasons (having had bad understanding of God which led them to reject such a God) and atheism is often a step in the right direction to an honest relationship with the true God. As such, atheism is not to be rejected per se, but understood and used to lead people to the fullness of truth, to look for what leads one to be an atheist and to understand where their mistakes lie without rejecting everything the atheist holds to! Thus, to say, “most atheists go Democrat” says little; it could be the kind of God they see Republicans hold (not all, to be sure) is false, as do many Catholics, who thus follow the Democratic party.

    All in all, we must not confuse political association for religion. Often the difference is in prudence and this doesn’t make one good or bad as Catholics go; differences in how voting works, the way one’s vote implies something about ones beliefs, etc will lead to different legitimate outcomes. This is why Pope Benedict and many others have also told people to stop holding one position as the be-all-and-end-all in political work.

    As for the claims here, as I have said elsewhere, Sister Walsh is logically engaging a fallacious argument here. While she is right in saying one should need to see the data, she is wrong in making it a defensive position for the HHS. She has yet to prove her claims; HHS does not have to prove a negative, she has to prove her assertions. Now, the data is how she could do that, but again, coming into it combative and throwing insults is not the way forward: even if there is no animosity, one could generate it with that kind of attitude. The early Church condemned people who caused problems to create martyrdom — we should remember this when engaging political rhetoric.

  5. Don from NH says:


    Let God decide which group of people are religious and which is atheist.

    Its wonderful to quote a particular study, but I believe that God will judge us not by a religious study but by our actions. Not by what we say but what we do.

    The Republicans are very good at coining phrases and saying one thing or another but have very little in substance to show for it.

  6. Manny, you are right on with your comment.

  7. I have to say that if I were an employer and hiring an employee and told him what his job description would be and how I wanted him to do it, and he said, no, I will do it the way I want to do it, it is unlikely that I would hire him. Kind of the golden rule, he who has the gold sets the rules.

    And it seems to me the Church agrees with this policy in that more than one person has been fired for not following Catholic principles that were demanded of them, even outside of the work place.

    Do not the rules apply to everyone?


    Mike L

  8. Henry and Don

    Just look at the policies. Look at which side is anti religion, sometimes at all costs. Look at the Supreme Court make up. The five on the right are all practicing Catholics; I don’t know to what level of belief the four on the left have, but they hardly ever mention religion. None of them are associated with religion that I can see. I’m not saying that the republican party is in total agreement on religious issues, but one side is generally sympathetic to religion and one side is not, and they at times flat out hostile to religion.

  9. Fiergenholt says:

    It is my understanding that the Supreme Court is made up of six Roman Catholic and three Jewish justices.

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