August - September 2008
With UCC's support, interfaith advocates insist universal health care is critical
By staff and wire reports
Nine UCC representatives joined a group of 70 national health care advocates in Cleveland in early June to focus attention on the religious community's insistence that the U.S. medical system be transformed.
The interfaith conversation included Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Unitarian-Universalist participants representing 23 states and the District of Columbia.
"The group worked collaboratively to explore opportunities for common voice and action in support of universal health care," said Barbara Baylor, the UCC's minister for health care justice. In addition to Baylor, UCC participants included Judith Andrews of the UCC's Council for American Indian Ministries; Poppy Arford, a student at UCC-related Bangor Theological Seminary in Maine; the Rev. Edwin Ayala of the Christian Activities Council in the Connecticut Conference; Charles Carpenter of United Black Christians; Eppie Encabo and Ula Sao, representing the UCC's Pacific Islander Asian American Ministries; Linda Morgan of the UCC's Faith Community Nurse Network; and the Rev. Jerry Paul of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis.
Known as "Faithful Reform in Health Care," the group is not advocating for any particular presidential candidate or health care proposal. Instead, the goal is to encourage greater public conversations about this nation's moral imperative to improve its health care system, Baylor said.
"We, as people of faith, envision an American society where each person is afforded health, wholeness, and human dignity," the group said in a statement. "We commit ourselves to transform the health care conversation so this vision is a reality. We do this through our shared beliefs about human dignity, the common good, justice, compassion, hope and stewardship."
Participants said the role of religious groups in the universal health care debate is similar to the role they played during the Civil Rights Movement, when people of faith insisted on justice over narrow economic and political interests.
"The kind of change we're talking about takes minds and hearts and imagination," said participant Diane Lardie, founding director of the Universal Health Care Action, to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. "The hearts and imagination are what we're good at."
Checking health care's 'pulse'
Through Aug. 15, the UCC-supported Faithful Reform in Health Care is conducting an online survey —"Pulse" — to gather your first-hand experiences with the U.S. health care system. What do you need and value in health care? What would make most sense to you?
"Thousands of responses are needed to demonstrate our concern for a health care future that works for all of us," according to the group's website.
Take the 'Pulse' test at faithfulreform.org.