PERSPECTIVE OF AN URBAN MINISTER. My perspective and commitment to address the need for major health care reform comes out of my experience as an Indianapolis pastor, including, most recently, six years at WEMO. I have served in Indianapolis' urban core neighborhoods for over 20 years. I've served as Pastor and Executive Director of Shepherd Community (a faith-based initiative), the John H. Boner Community Center, and Horizon House, Inc. (a homeless day center).
CONTINUING ADVOCACY. I continue to work with and advocate for neighbors who struggle to access and/or afford health care. I invite and encourage people of faith to do what they can in a bridge-building way to make accessible, affordable, quality health care available for all our citizens.
ONLINE STORY. Here is the link to the online edition of today's Indianapolis Star story titled "Pastors Weigh In On Health Reform."
HELPFUL LINKS. Here are some essential links to the "40 Days for Health Reform," the non-partisan effort to engage people of faith and faith communities in finding common, middle ground to bring accessible, affordable, quality health care to all Americans:
- Faith for Health, including info about the August 19 call-in with President Obama
- Faith In Public Life
- Cover All Families - the effort of PICO
Here is the content of the online version of the Indianapolis Star article by Maureen Groppe:
WASHINGTON -- An Indianapolis evangelical leader is part of an effort that religious leaders launched Monday to push for health-care reform as a moral imperative.
"This is no way for the most blessed country in the world to treat its most vulnerable citizens," said the Rev. John Hay, Jr. "This is as much a crisis of faith as it is a crisis of health care. We just believe there is a better way for us to meet in the middle on some common ground to make sure everyone can access and afford health care."
Hay, who left the church in July and now works with an international child sponsorship initiative, is among faith leaders from across the country featured in an ad that began running Monday on national cable channels and in Washington. In addition to the ad, the Forty Days for Health Reform campaign includes rallies, prayer vigils, a national call-in with President Barack Obama next week, sermons and congregation discussions on health care.
The campaign is one of many efforts to persuade lawmakers to either finish or abandon efforts to revamp the nation's health-care system.
The health insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which have much to win or lose in the debate, have encouraged their employees to talk to their lawmakers during the August recess.
Organizing for America, created by the Democratic National Committee to maintain and expand the local networks of support that worked for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, is urging people to stop by their local congressional offices to show support for health-care reform.
Conservative groups have been rallying their side, resulting in some raucous town hall meetings held by members of Congress.
Hay said the debate over reform has been derailed "by a lot of voices over the past couple of weeks," and the faith groups' campaign is "one effort to refocus some core theological, moral and ethical issues."
The faith campaign organizers are encouraging pastors to address the issue in their sermons on the last weekend in August.
Many church members and others are concerned that proposed changes would reverse the ban on using federal funds to pay for abortions through health-care programs for the poor.
PICO, a national network of faith-based organizations and one of the campaign organizers, said the campaign focuses on parts of the country where religion is a significant part of public life. It also targets congressional districts that are politically competitive.
Organizers hope to hold 50 vigils or rallies across the country and generate 55,000 calls or e-mails to lawmakers over the next 40 days.