In a rather surprising story, Religion News Service’s Kristen Day recently reported that
Conservative Christian groups on Wednesday (Aug. 26) ramped up opposition to health care reform, saying the current system “has problems” but “it is working.”
Such statements just don’t reflect the facts on the ground. It’s estimated that 137,000 people died between 2000 and 2006 because they were uninsured. Premiums have risen four times as fast as wages in recent years, leading to huge profits for insurers, strained family budgets, and people losing coverage. The Urban Institute projects that the number of uninsured Americans will reach 60,000,000 within ten years if reform is not passed. As things currently stand, 47,000,000 Americans lack health coverage, and insurance companies have the incentive and the ability to jack up premiums and co-pays at will, refuse to insure people with pre-existing conditions, and deny needed treatment to seriously ill policyholders. For those that scripture commands people of faith to care for — the poor, the sick, the powerless — our healthcare system doesn’t just have problems, it is a problem.
It’s also strange to see this new line of attack from the religious right. They’ve been opposing health care on a number of dubious grounds for months – an “abortion mandate,” euthanasia, rationing, and so forth. Not only is this new attack on as factually shaky ground as their previous charges, but their argument inverts the priorities of the Gospel by defending a system that works for the rich at the continued expense of the poor and breezily flouts of the common good. There’s certainly room for reasonable disagreement among people of good will on various aspects of reform, but it’s hard to make an honest, moral case that the status quo just needs a couple of tweaks.
Before and after last week’s 40 Minutes for Health Reform webcast — which has now been streamed 300,000 times — numerous faith leaders appeared on cable news and radio talk shows to discuss the moral dimension of the health care reform debate and the faith community’s role in it. This week we’ll be posting many of these clips here. To kick off, here’s FPL’s Katie Paris (who emceed the call-in) recapping the event on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting:
Check back soon for more footage of faith leaders speaking up for reform. God’s Politics also has several clips of Jim Wallis discussing the faith community’s role in health care reform on MSNBC and FOX, among others.
Last night’s faith community call to action on health care with President Obama attracted an overwhelming turnout — true testament to the energy and passion the faith community feels for this critical moral issue.
If you missed it, you can listen to the call here:
In stark contrast to the violence and shouting that’s been coming out of town halls across the country, the faith community has been making its case for health care reform in a passionate, but civil tone.
Here’s We Believe Ohio’s press conference this morning:
And here checkout highlights from LA Voice PICO prayer rally for healthcare, powerful stuff!
This morning Rabbi Jonah Pesner, founding director of the Union of Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations, appeared along with Rev. Derrick Harkins to discuss healthcare reform on CNN’s “Faces of Faith.” (Rev. Harkins is senior pastor of 19th St. Baptist Church in DC, as well as an FPL board member and a board member of World Relief.) Both discussed not only the theological grounding for their support for reform, but experiences in their own congregation that demonstrate the need for it. Have a look:
Look out for more media appearances by faith leaders working for health care reform this week. And please go to faithforhealth.org to rsvp for 40 Minutes for Health Reform — the national call-in and audio webcast with religious leaders and President Obama on Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern, which is sponsored by a diverse coalition of 30 faith groups.