Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Health Care Debate Takes Compassionate Turn

What two words have been missing from the health care debate on the right? Compassion and religion. The party of compassionate conservatism has always been quick to use religion when it served their purpose in the past, but curiously, neither word has been mentioned often in relation to health care reform. There have been a few exceptions though. While conducting a town hall in Lebanon, PA, Sen. Arlen Specter was threatened with God's wrath by one protester.
"One day, God's gonna stand before you," he said. "And he's gonna judge you and the rest of your damn cronies up on the Hill, and then you can get your just desserts."
I wonder if that person was referring to the lies being told by some critics? As Jim Wallis of Sojourners recently said, "one important moral principle for the health-care debate is truth-telling."

The religious right may be keeping quiet about this issue, but a coalition of interfaith religious groups is backing health care reform. They've launched a 40 day campaign targeting 100 member of Congress and they'll participate in a telephone call-in event with President Obama on Aug 19.
Members of the group said Monday that they intend to fight back against what they say are lies being told about health reform.

“All of God’s children [have] got to be covered now,” said Rev. Jim Wallis, the CEO of Sojourners. “This is not a partisan political move. You are going to hear the moral drumbeat throughout this debate.”

The campaign is sponsored and organized by PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Faithful America, Sojourners and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
Catholics in Alliance believe "health care is a basic human right, not a privilege," and Faithful America is letting Congress know people of faith support health care reform in a national TV ad.

Christians aren't alone in this effort. The coalition also includes Jewish and Muslim leaders. In fact, the National Democratic Jewish Council launched a "Rabbis for Health Insurance Reform" webpage urging Congress to get legislation passed for "Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Muslims, and Jews."
"Our tradition teaches us to pursue justice," the site reads. "Yet it is not a just society when families are forced to choose between paying their mortgages or paying for prescription drugs. It is not a just society when small businesses must choose between being profitable or providing coverage to their employees. It is not a just society when people are denied health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition for which they need medical care. Equal access to safe and affordable health care is an essential social justice issue of our time.
If ever there was a time to bring religion and compassion into the discussion, this is it. As one Indianapolis pastor who is part of the coalition said, this "effort addresses the suffering parishioners they [clergy] see each week who can’t afford treatments until their ailments reach emergency room levels. ... This is as much a crisis of faith as it is a crisis of health care.”


(Cross-posted at Blogging for MI.)

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