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Scores of Religious Leaders Conclude 23-Hour Prayer Vigil to Save Health Care


June 30, 2017


Greg Williams, gwilliams@faithinpubliclife.org, (443) 854-1405

Chris Ford, cford@bread.org, (202) 688-1077​

Scores of Religious Leaders Conclude 23-Hour Prayer Vigil to Save Health Care

A coalition of prominent clergy and community leaders prayed that senators would vote “NO” on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which would strip 22 million Americans of their health care

Washington, D.C. — Thursday afternoon, a coalition of prominent interfaith leaders wrapped-up a 23-hour prayer vigil on Capitol Hill focused on preserving Medicaid. Members of the the Interfaith Healthcare Coalition prayed that senators would not take health care away from 22 million Americans. To see the full list of events, click here.​

Participants in the vigil included Sen. Tim Kaine, who arrived at 6:00 a.m. Thursday to join the vigil’s sunrise prayer. Sen. Jeff Merkley, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Eliot Engle, Rep. Jan Schakowski, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler spoke at various points throughout the vigil. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rev. William Barber, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, spoke during the closing ceremony.​

The Senate leadership, which recently delayed the vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), hopes to vote on the bill when the Senate returns from the July 4 recess.​

The following are quotes from some of the faith leaders who spoke at the vigil:​

Rev. Jennifer Butler, CEO, Faith in Public Life:​

“The Better Care Reconciliation Act is a moral scandal. This bill is just as immoral as the version that passed the House of Representatives in May. It still strips away healthcare from those Scripture tells us to care for first: the poor, elderly and children. It still increases costs for seniors. It still gives the very wealthiest among us a massive tax cut.”​

Dr. Sarah Kureshi, American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) Member:

“There’s a saying of Prophet Muhammad about how the community is like a body; when one part feels pain, the whole body responds to that pain. Similarly, when the most marginal and underprivileged in our community are hurting, forgotten, downtrodden, or neglected it is OUR responsibility to respond with love, kindness and empathy, because their pain IS our pain.​

“Besides ending Medicaid as we know it, the Senate health care repeal bill makes health care worse for everyone in other ways – it raises costs, cuts coverage, and weakens protections.”​

Eli McCarthy, PhD, Director of Justice and Peace, Conference of Superiors of Men:​

“Trappist monk Thomas Merton names the Unspeakable as the systemic evil at the root of unjust policies. Today’s health care bill manifests the systemic evil of greed as the Senators who created the bill get big contributions from health insurance and big pharmacy companies, then these companies and wealthy people get $1 trillion in tax cuts, while 22 million others, mostly in poverty, will lose health care. Time to courageously resist.”​

Fr. Mike Lasky, OFM Conv, Vice President, Franciscan Action Network Board:​

“Dependent on God who lovingly knit each of us together in our mother’s womb, we call for an acknowledgement of our common human interdependence and responsibility of one to another, of government representatives to their people.

“This solidarity of concern for one and all is made strong when the individual threads of life issues, among these is health care, are woven together into a garment of life for the protection and comfort of us all, especially the poor, vulnerable and marginalized. The current Senate healthcare bill will effectively snap the thread of our right for universal health care thereby tearing the garment of life and unnecessarily exposing the poor and most vulnerable to the elements of harm and indifference.”

Rev. Nancy Neal, interim director for church relations, Bread for the World:​

“As faith leaders and as voters, we gathered for this vigil as the Senate leadership gathers votes on a healthcare bill cutting $700 billion dollars from Medicaid. These cuts would leave 22 million American children, grandparents, people with disabilities, and low wage workers without health care.

“These devastating cuts violates the mandate from God in each of our faith traditions to care for the widows, orphans, and the most vulnerable people in our communities. We call on all Senators to reject any healthcare bill that sends the most vulnerable people in our communities deeper into poverty, and we call on people of faith around the country to speak up during this most patriotic week of the year. We are witness to God’s power at work in the world, and trust that God will move in the hearts and minds of our Senators.”

Partners include:​

American Muslim Health Professionals

Bend the Arc

Bend the Arc Jewish Action

Bread for the World

Columbian Center for Advocacy

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Ecumenical Poverty Initiative

Episcopal Church

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Faith in Public Life

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Islamic Society of North America

Islamic Relief USA

Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States

Leaders from the Lakota Sioux and Ramapough Lanape Tribes

National Advocacy Center for the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Pax Christi

Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

United Church of Christ

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society


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