Last week, Interfaith Worker Justice and other religious leaders joined the AFL-CIO, the NFL Players Association, the National Organization of Women and both union and non-union Hyatt Hotel workers to launch “Hyatt Hurts,” a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels. Joining in the long tradition of
religious support for workers’ rights, IWJ has taken an active role in this fight, leading delegations of workers in meetings with hotel managers and organizing prayer vigils inside and outside hotels. “Faith communities want our money to align with our values, which is why Interfaith Worker Justice
supports the Hyatt Global Boycott,” IWJ executive director Kim Bobo explained.
The boycott comes as a response to a long list of grievances against Hyatt. The company is said to be subcontracting workers, firing longtime staff members in favor of others who will work for less, and failing to protect its employees. In 2011, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) leveled $100,000 worth of penalties against the nationwide chain, citing 18 regulation violations.
To learn more about the Hyatt Hurts and to hear the human stories behind the boycott, visit hyatthurts.org.
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It’s hard to describe the relief I felt when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.
The outcome of the case was literally a matter of life and death for struggling families and people discriminated against by health insurance companies. Thanks to Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kagan, Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Breyer, tens of millions of Americans will no longer be at risk of getting cut off from the care they need. Roberts, who has a very conservative record, shocked observers of all stripes by breaking ranks with the right wing and upholding the law. Dozens of nationally prominent faith leaders expressed strong approval of the decision.
Unfortunately one of the Affordable Care Act’s most important features – the expansion of Medicaid to cover all Americans who make less than 133% of the poverty level – was weakened by Roberts’s opinion. States may now opt out of this provision easily even though federal funding covers the overwhelming majority of the expense and refusing to accept it would take healthcare coverage away from struggling families.
Some Republican governors appear eager to deprive their constituents of healthcare. Already five GOP governors – Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Rick Scott of Florida and Terry Branstad of Iowa – have announced that they will refuse federal funding to expand Medicaid. This could deprive up to 1.4 million people of coverage. Numerous other GOP leaders are threatening to follow suit. Taking away people’s access to quality, affordable healthcare isn’t just cynical, it’s sinful. Putting the ideological demands of the Tea Party before the well-being of families isn’t
principled, it’s cowardly.
One of the reasons Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in the first place was because clergy and faith-based community organizers lifted up the human consequences and moral issues at stake. We can make the same impact now as we did back then.
The “Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness” tour, which concluded with an inspirational rally and press conference in Washington yesterday, strongly rebuked Congressman Paul Ryan’s immoral federal budget priorities and presented a faithful alternative. The Sisters on the bus received overwhelming popular support and extensive media coverage during their nine-state journey as they confronted Members of Congress who voted for the Ryan plan. As governors play political games with the well-being of vulnerable families, faith leaders need to mount this kind of pressure again and again in state after state.
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In an interview with the National Catholic Register about last week’s Supreme Court decision, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia appeared to break with the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ official stance of not supporting repeal of the Affordable Care Act:
NCR: What does the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care reform legislation now mean in the struggle to defend religious freedom?
CHAPUT: I think it’s a disappointment on the part of many of us in the Church because we had hoped the decision would make our lawsuits unnecessary.
The USCCB, of course, released a statement yesterday explaining that while they take issue with certain parts of the law, they have “not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and [they] do not do so today.”
Expounding on his views, Chaput further demonstrated how far he is from the position of his conference:
NCR: The U.S. bishops have spoken in favor of a universal right to health care.
CHAPUT: The bishops really do believe it. Health is a basic human right; we have a right to be healthy. There’s no declaration on the part of the Church that that has to be accomplished through government intervention.
There are many ways of approaching health care, and I think it’s very important for Catholics to understand the fact that the Church, seeing health care as a basic human right, does not mean [to say] there’s a particular method of obtaining that [right that’s] better than another.
Chaput’s assertion here isn’t a remotely convincing argument against the law. Just because Church teaching doesn’t require a governmental role in healthcare doesn’t mean it rejects it. The Bishops concerns about the Affordable Care Act were about particular policies, they had no objections to the general framework of the bill.
Even for those who are opposed to the law on principle, advocating for repeal is incredibly irresponsible. A sudden reversal would put millions of people at risk of health crises and financial ruin.
Chaput’s argument sounds more like that of a Tea Party politician than a Catholic prelate. As his fellow bishops attempt to tamp down appearances of partisanship, Chaput’s comments don’t help the situation.
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In response to today’s Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act, Faith in Public Life executive director Rev. Jennifer Butler issued the following statement:
The Supreme Court did the right thing for American families by upholding the Affordable Care Act. Faith leaders worked tirelessly to pass this legislation because ensuring that all Americans have quality, affordable healthcare is a moral responsibility. The religious right needs to halt their misguided campaign to repeal this law. Human life is too sacred to be jeopardized by partisan crusades.
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This week, several Supreme Court decisions will have profound effects on our nation’s future, and people of faith are speaking up.
Yesterday the court overturned key sections of Arizona’s SB 1070, the anti-immigrant law faith leaders fought because it subjects Latinos to harassment, discrimination and profiling. Unfortunately, the court didn’t strike down one of the most dangerous parts of the law – the “show me your papers” provision requiring law enforcement officers verify the immigration status of people they stop. Religious leaders responded by expressing disappointment that the ruling still allows racial profiling, but also commended the justices for striking down the other provisions.
Thursday, the justices will announce their verdict on the Affordable Care Act. The outlook isn’t good. In a survey of 21 top legal scholars last week, 19 said the law’s individual coverage mandate was constitutional based on legal precedent, but only eight thought the justices will uphold the law in its entirety. The potential consequences are grave. Access to health insurance for tens of millions of people, the stability of our healthcare system, and the fate of people with pre-existing conditions and serious illnesses hang in the balance. If the law is overturned or weakened, Republicans who fought for repeal of “Obamacare” face an immediate moral responsibility to pass policies that ensure no one is harmed because of their partisan agenda.
During the healthcare debate of 2009 and 2010, Faith in Public Life and key religious partners mounted a multifaceted campaign to provide quality, affordable health care for all Americans. Within hours of the public launch of our effort, the conservative Family Research Council called it an “anti-faith, anti-family, anti-freedom agenda.” Throughout the debate Republican leaders and the Religious Right relentlessly distorted the legislation, calling it a “government takeover,” claiming that it included “death panels” and alleging that it provided taxpayer funding of abortion.
By the time the law finally passed, pro-health reform faith leaders had generated scores of vigils, hundreds of visits to Congress, thousands of media hits, millions of prayers, and crucial rebuttals to the Right’s dishonest rhetoric. It wasn’t in service of a partisan agenda, it was in accordance with our belief that all people, created in the image of God, deserve medical treatment for the illnesses and injuries we all face over the course of life. This conviction leads us to pray that the Supreme Court does the right thing on Thursday, and spurs us to action if they don’t.
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