Last week Missourians were dealt a disappointing blow when they learned that a massive legal assault from corporate interests had succeeded in keeping initiatives to cap payday lending rates and raise the minimum wage off the ballot this November.
But the community leaders who have been working tirelessly on these issues — including a large coalition of diverse faith leaders — are not giving up. After hearing the news last week, they held a rally on Main Street in Kansas City to send a message that they’re continuing the fight for economic justice in their state.
Here’s a video from their event:
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Today, a diverse coalition of national and state faith leaders held a press teleconference urging GOP governors to stop obstructing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion plan that will provide healthcare to millions of uninsured, low-income Americans if fully implemented.
Despite the fact that the expanded coverage will save their states billions of dollars in uncompensated care costs, nine Republican governors have indicated their intention to reject the tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance offered to their states by the law.
As FPL executive director Jennifer Butler said on the call:
Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid will save lives and alleviate suffering for poor families without straining state budgets. It’s unconscionable that politicians would even consider refusing to accept it.
Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK and “Nuns on the Bus” fame added:
I call on all governors to expand Medicaid coverage in order to save thousands of lives. My strong support of Medicaid expansion comes out of my pro-life stance because it is the right and moral thing to do.
Other call speakers included Melissa Boteach, Director of Half-in-Ten; Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Executive Director of Faithful Reform in Healthcare; Rev. Rayfield Burns, Pastor of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist, Kansas City, MO; and Elder Marco A. Grimaldo, CEO & President of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.
Listen to the call here.
Supplementing the call is a letter expressing the same sentiment and signed by nearly 100 national and local faith leaders. Read that letter and see the full list of signers here.
The call and letter come in advance of the release of the United States Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage data on September 12th, which is expected to show that millions of Americans who would be affected by this expansion are suffering for lack of access to affordable health insurance.
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Earlier this summer, members of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, boarded a bus in Des Moines, Iowa for a two week tour across the country to draw attention to those working families most affected by the severe social service cuts in Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal adopted by the House GOP.
Now, Missouri members of NETWORK are launching their own tour to warn of the danger of the Ryan budget for vulnerable Americans in their state.
Sister Mary Ann McGivern framed the moral questions raised by the tour:
“Do we choose to be a nation of individualism and fear where the rich get richer at the expense of those in need. Or do we reclaim the principles of our founders and work together for all people to form a more perfect union?”
The tour launched yesterday in Kansas City and continues this week with stops throughout the state. Along the way, the nuns will make special visits to Catholic-sponsored social service agencies, as well as to local congressional offices.
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While political conventions and the daily twists and turns of the Presidential campaigns grab the headlines, faith leaders are working hard in communities nationwide to change the debate and advance the common good in substantive ways. The Nuns on the Bus Tour’s success calling media attention to the Ryan budget was a great example of this, and there are many others.
Last week members of Bend the Arc, an innovative new Jewish social justice group, kicked off their eight-state “If I Were a Rich Man” tour to confront Members of Congress from both parties who are personally wealthy and support tax breaks for the richest Americans that hamstring our ability to preserve an adequate safety net as we pay off the debt. This campaign not only highlights the faith community’s commitment to tax fairness as a moral issue, but also raises important questions about individual lawmakers’ biases in favor of the wealthy.
When President Obama made the long overdue decision this summer to defer prosecution of young undocumented immigrants who qualify for the DREAM Act, faith leaders rejoiced. But the pronouncement alone didn’t bring relief to those trapped by our broken system. In order to qualify for the chance to stay, they must complete a complex application process. Religious groups are stepping up to help young people navigate these difficult waters. Churches are hosting legal clinics for thousands who want to contribute to our nation’s future and are in violation of immigration law through no fault of their own, and faith-based immigration reform advocates are providing hands-on assistance. (On a side note, take a look at these inspiring images of thousands of people lining up to apply to stay in America.)
Grassroots faith leaders are also mobilizing to affect crucial state-level debates. In Missouri, a religious coalition is fighting for economic fairness and justice by working to pass ballot initiatives raising the minimum wage and capping the interest rates predatory payday lenders can charge. Next month Catholic sisters will conduct a statewide Nuns on the Bus tour to call attention to the Ryan budget’s devastating effects on communities across Missouri.
I’m proud of the impact the faith community is making this year. From shaping national media narratives on the economy and taxes to helping immigrants take advantage of important new opportunities to come out of the shadows, we’re demonstrating for all to see that religion is a powerful force for justice.
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After a six-year run bringing you the best faith and politics news every day, Faith in Public Life will be ending the daily news reel email today, August 24th. Thanks for your loyal readership. If you want to stay up to date on all things faith and politics, you can follow our Twitter account @BoldFaithType, where we will be posting stories throughout the day.
Activists Push for Repeal of Tax Cut for Wealthy
By The Jewish Daily Forward
The young people are targeting the districts of Congress members who support tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 annually. They group said in a statement that the activists are “standing up to the wealthiest members of Congress who are voting to line their pockets while demanding more of the nation’s most vulnerable to reduce the deficit, balance the budget and protect funding for critical programs and services.”
The Republican Party Cardinal
By Andrew Sullivan — Daily Beast,The Dish
[Dolan's] stature turns a benediction into political act. It may just be a prayer – but it is one offered by one of the most recognizable Catholic leaders in the country, at a party political convention. It just can’t get more partisan than that.
The Real Reason Rick Warren Cancelled His Candidate Forum: His Increasing Irrelevance
By Amy Sullivan — The New Republic
Despite Warren’s efforts to make it seem as if he was selflessly cancelling an appearance with both presidential candidates in order to avoid contributing to a toxic political climate, the evidence strongly suggests that there wasn’t any Saddleback forum this time to cancel.
Romney says his Mormon tithing shouldn’t be public
By Thomas Burr — Salt Lake Tribune
Mitt Romney says in a new interview that one of the reasons he’s distressed about disclosing his tax returns is that everyone sees how much money he and his wife, Ann, have donated to the LDS Church, and that’s a number he wants to keep private.
Todd Akin in Tampa with top social conservatives
By Kate Nocera — Politico
The embattled Missouri Senate candidate flew to Tampa to meet with members of the Council for National Policy, a secretive coalition of powerful conservative and evangelical leaders, activists, and donors.
Kris Kobach Tells Mitt Romney How It’s Going to be on Immigration
By Adam Serwer — Mother Jones
Since the GOP primary, Romney has tried to moderate his rhetoric, if not his actual positions, refusing to answer specific questions and muddying his own views on what approach he would take on immigration. Now, the Republican platform commits him to a set of specific, hardline policies.
Christians Deliver Petition to Repeal Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s Executive Order
By Beau Underwood — Sojourners, God’s Politics
Today, two Christian leaders in Arizona delivered a petition signed by thousands of Christians to Gov. Jan Brewer calling on her to retract her controversial executive order denying driver’s licenses and other benefits to undocumented young people who qualify for deferred action.
ICE agents sue own agency over deferred deportations
By Alan Gomez — USA Today
A group of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents filed a lawsuit against their own agency Thursday, arguing that the Obama administration is not letting them fully identify and deport illegal immigrants.
Evangelical Colleges Didn’t Figure Out Whether They Covered Contraception Before Suing Over Obamacare Regulation
By Tara Culp-Ressler — Think Progress
In preparation to sue over Obamacare, evangelical colleges are more closely examining their existing student health plans — only to discover that they actually already cover the contraceptive services they object to.
Pluralism and prejudice: How conflicts over religious pluralism reveal America’s new ‘Sacred Ground’
By Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite — Washington Post, On Faith
Patel sees our political process as a mirror of our increasing diversity, especially religious diversity. He writes, “America is among the most religiously diverse countries in human history and by far the most religiously devout nation in the West.”
After Sikh Temple Shootings, New Focus on Combating Hate Crimes
By John Nichols — The Nation
The signal that the White House has not and will not forget what happened at the Sikh Temple is important, as are the condolences the first lady shared. The real significance of the visit was the message—very much welcomed by the Sikh community in Wisconsin and nationally—involved the recognition of the need for a broader dialogue about violence and hate in America.
Blood on the hands of both sides in culture wars
By Tom Krattenmaker — USA Today
Thank you, Family Research Council, for now conceding what conservative groups have been loath to acknowledge in recent years: the truth that incendiary rhetoric indeed does contribute to a climate conducive to politically motivated violence.
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