FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 26, 2017
Drew Konow | firstname.lastname@example.org | 203-222-0055
Nearly 1,000 People of Faith and Religious Leaders Urge Senators to Protect Comprehensive, Affordable Health Care
Hundreds of People of Faith Express Support for ACA, Medicaid Expansion, and Planned Parenthood; Hand Deliver Statement to Key Legislative Leaders as Clergy Gather at U.S. Capitol for Prayer and Public Witness
Washington, D.C.—As lawmakers debate plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), people of faith and religious leaders are speaking out in defense of “comprehensive, affordable health care for all.” In a statement released today, nearly 1,000 people of faith and religious leaders proclaim that “stripping access to health care from millions of people is immoral and unjust.”
Speaking from their religious traditions, these people of faith expressed opposition to “any measures that roll back the expansion of Medicaid, deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, restrict coverage for abortion care, or defund Planned Parenthood.” They justified their opposition citing teachings from their faiths including “care for those in need, consider the welfare of all people, and side with those who are poor, marginalized, and vulnerable.” Signatories affirmed that “[Our] faith teaches [us] to pursue justice and health for all people. Denying health care to millions of people contradicts [our] faith.”
Rev. Marie Alford-Harkey, President and CEO of the Religious Institute, the group that organized the statement, said, “As the leader of a sexual and social justice organization, a Christian, and an ordained pastor, the cold-hearted actions of lawmakers on Tuesday are an affront to my faith. My faith teaches me that all people deserve to lead healthy lives, and that access to affordable comprehensive health care is a human right and a moral imperative. My Christian values, my belief in the common good, and my commitment to justice require nothing less.”
The statement was signed by nearly 1,000 people of faith and religious leaders with signatories from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 90 national religious leaders signed the statement including denominational leaders, seminary presidents, and leaders of national faith organizations.
“The vote in the Senate to move forward with repeal of the Affordable Care Act is a deeply disturbing step backward for the American health care system,” said Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “As Americans and as Jews, we are firm in the belief that our government has a responsibility to ensure all people have access to the care they need.”
In conjunction with the release of the statement, people of faith and religious leaders across faith traditions are convening today, Wednesday, July 26, to prayerfully demand that Congress protect the ACA including maintaining funding for Planned Parenthood. Faith leaders will gather at the United States Capitol for a press conference, prayer vigil, and a procession to Senators’ offices to deliver the statement.
“While some political leaders give lip service to religion, using their particular brand of morality only to punish or exclude others, I cannot stand idly by and allow health care to be decimated,” said Bishop John Selders, Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut, and leader of Moral Monday Connecticut. “It is offensive to my faith for politicians to use religion as a political weapon as they strip health care from millions of people.”
The statement from people of faith comes the day after the Senate voted to begin debate on a bill to repeal major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. If the ACA is repealed, millions will lose access to health care, and the poorest and most vulnerable Americans, including many of the patients who seek care at Planned Parenthood, will be disproportionately affected.
Rabbi Dennis Ross, Director of Concerned Clergy for Choice said, “If your faith teaches love of God, then make sure that people can get the health care they need. If your God wants you to love people, make sure that their health care includes family planning services. God put us on earth to love and protect each other. So don’t take away anyone’s quality, confidential, and compassionate care through Planned Parenthood.”
The Religious Institute is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. More than 8,500 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national religious leaders network.