Tuesday, June 16, 2009

RAISING SPIRITUAL VOICES FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM

I recently submitted the following piece to the Indianapolis Star

NOT THIS TIME. This letter is part of a larger effort to engage faith communities to find common ground on this pressing moral issue for our nation. In the past, the church has effectively been divided and become an ineffective voice in the call for health care and insurance that is accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality of care. This effort is a challenge to all concerned persons of faith to not let divisive agendas of special interests diminish or sideline the overwhelming call for real health care reform in America. Personally, I said nothing during the last debate on health care reform. I will not be silent this time.

As Congress tackles the urgent issue of reforming our nation’s broken
health care system, Christian pastors and faith-based organizers are not letting
corporate lobbyists or insurance companies set the agenda in Washington. I
have joined my fellow Christian pastors across the country taking part in a
media and grassroots advocacy to encourage members of Congress to make quality
health care affordable for all families.

In radio ads airing here in Indiana and across Arkansas, Colorado,
Louisiana, Missouri and Nebraska – states where members of Congress will likely
determine the fate of health care reform -- pastors are reminding our elected
officials that health care is a profound moral issue because every human life is
sacred. In the coming months, people of faith across the country will take
action to encourage our lawmakers to build a health care system that serves the
common good. Nearly 600 clergy in 42 states have agreed to preach about health
care from the pulpit.

Faith leaders will be traveling to Washington every month to meet with
public officials and build support for reform. Churches will be hosting “Health
Care Sundays” to help connect the values of compassion and healing central our
religious traditions with the need for quality health care. These inspiring
efforts represent an unprecedented collaboration between pastors, national
religious groups and faith-based community organizing networks.

We believe in this effort because it’s a moral outrage and a political
failure that 46 million Americans lack health insurance in the world’s richest
nation. According to a Families USA report released in March, 1.6 million
residents of the Hoosier State are uninsured, including a staggering 53 percent
of Hispanics and 42 percent of African Americans.

But statistics fail to tell the heartbreaking human story of suffering that
I witness in my church every day. A report can’t reveal the anguish of a mother
unable to afford a doctor’s visit for a sick child, or the pain of a husband
ignoring a debilitating injury because missing work means losing his job.
Ministering to ailing families, I’m reminded more than ever that our
health care debate is about fundamental values. Nothing less is at stake here
than whether or not we are going to live up to our highest ideals as a
country.

In the face of a devastating economic and health care crisis leaving so
many families behind, Republicans and Democrats must recognize that providing
affordable health care transcends narrow partisan agendas or the tired
ideological battles of the past. Let’s end the divisive fear mongering over
“socialized medicine,” reject false choices and find common ground to create a
health care system worthy of a great nation. We need bold actions,
political will and the moral urgency to pass comprehensive health care reform
now.

The guardians of the status quo will surely make this a tough fight. But
inspired by faith and hope, together we can make whole that which is broken. The
spirit of change is on the move.

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.

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