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Twin Falls pastor dismissed by St. Luke’s

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 4:30 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A long-time Twin Falls pastor is speaking out about his dismissal from St. Luke’s hospital. He said his departure from the hospital has nothing to do with the politics surrounding the COVID vaccine, but a cultural shift in society.

Paul Thompson has been a pastor at Eastside Baptist Church for about 20 years, and a little more than five years ago he was informed that there was a need for contract chaplains at St Luke’s. He said he was intrigued by the opportunity, but before he accepted it he wanted to make sure the hospital was aware of his presence and voice in the community.

“I do have a public presence in the city. I write regularly in the newspaper. I am on a regular radio program. I speak out about moral issues,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, the hospital had no issues at the time, and they basically just wanted to know he could walk into a hospital room and give “ethical, spiritual care” to a person in need. Thompson told KMVT he would never force his beliefs on someone else.

As a contract chaplain, Thompson was on call between the hours of 4:30 pm and 8 AM. During his five-year span, he believes he helped more than 200 people in need of spiritual care, but this past June that all came to an end. He was notified through certified mail his contract would not be renewed.

“The piece about it that was shocking was that there was no indication at all whatsoever that the hospital was displeased with my service,” Thompson said.

About a week later he had a conference call with the hospital to discuss why his contract was not renewed. According to Thompson, they listed two primary reasons: he is becoming too high profile, and the pair no longer share common values.

“The most shocking of it all is that the hospital said, and communicated directly, ‘we no longer have shared values’, " Thompson said.

As a pastor and public figure in Twin Falls, Thompson has expressed his views on abortion frequently. He is also pro-life, and last Fall he presented to the city council a Citizens Proclamation to declare Twin Falls a “Sanctuary City for Pre-Born Babies. He has also been a vocal critic of the LGBTQ community. Back in June, he asked the library board to remove an LGBTQ display placed at the entrance of the children’s services section. He admits he comments on the issues frequently on his radio show and in the column he writes for the newspaper. With that said he is not aware of any complaints being filed against him with the hospital, and he would never refuse spiritual care to someone because the person didn’t share his beliefs.

“I would never walk into a room and say, ‘I can’t help these guys,” Thompson said.

He said he thinks his dismissal is more about the cultural shift in society than about him.

“The values that are shifting are not that my values have moved away from the hospital, but the hospital values have moved away from orthodox Christianity.”

KMVT reached out to St. Luke’s for comment, and Public Relations Manager Michelle Bartlome said, “St. Luke’s does not comment on personnel matters.”

However, Thompson said he plans to move on with his life and be true to who he is.

“Everything inside of me wants to be liked by everybody, but I also know that by speaking the truth that puts me in a position where people think I am against them,” Thompson said.

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