The Common Good

A Faith Declaration for Health Care Reform

Sojomail - October 8, 2009


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

In the 1980s, there were political assassinations, torture and disappearances. They were selective and hidden. But now there is massive repression and defiance of the whole world. They do it in broad daylight, without any scruples, with nothing to stop them.

- Bertha Oliva, general coordinator of the Committee for Families of the Disappeared and Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH), describing human rights violations by the Honduran coup government which have intensified since President Manuel Zelaya secretly returned to Honduras two weeks ago, taking refuge at the Brazilian Embassy. (Source: The New York Times)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" -- our daily quote and Bible verse e-mail

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

A Faith Declaration for Health-Care Reform

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners
Be a Facebook Fan of Sojourners
Become a Facebook fan
of Sojourners

Follow Jim Wallis on Twitter
Follow Sojourners
on Twitter

Over the course of the health-care debate, voices of faith have been raised about the moral values at stake beneath the policy discussions. As bills are finalized and moved through both chambers of Congress, now more than ever we need to remind ourselves of the values that move us to reform. From the Bill of Rights to the abolition of slavery, from women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement, those who have raised the question of values have often changed our country for the better. Change can be scary in uncertain times, but it always comes when a nation chooses hope over fear.

Unfortunately, God sent Moses down from the mountain with only the Ten Commandments, and not a health-care bill ready to be passed out of committee. There is no one “right” religious position on how health care should be provided. But I believe there are some fundamental moral and biblical principles on which to evaluate any final legislative agreement, principles on which many people of faith -- even politically diverse people -- might agree. After the heat of the summer’s confrontations over health care, it’s time for a cooler fall debate. It’s time for a re-set of the health-care debate, and a return to some basic principles could help.

Five Principles of Faith for Health-Care Reform

  1. Health, not sickness, is the will of God. We can see this from the story in Genesis of the garden, where sickness was never found, and from the vision in Revelation of a city in which death will be no more. When we are instruments of bringing about that good health, we are doing the work of God. The gospel stories of Jesus healing people, of restoring them to physical wholeness and full participation in their community, always signaled God’s presence.
  2. United we stand, divided we fall. The division between those who can afford adequate coverage and those who cannot is a threat to our unity, to the health of our neighbors, and to our nation. 46 million people in our country are uninsured, and millions more who are insured still can’t keep up with their bills. Our moral and religious standards say no one should be left out of a system simply because of not being able to afford good health. The common good requires a system that is accessible to all who need it.
  3. Patients not profits. No one should be discriminated against in their health care because they are sick. Our faith mandates that we give extra consideration and help to those who are sick, but every time an insurance company denies coverage for “pre-existing conditions,” excluded ailments, or confusing fine print, their profits go up. Every doctor I know decided to pursue medicine to help people. Many insurance companies make a profit by not helping people, but our faith requires it.
  4. Life and liberty must both be protected. The health-care system should protect the sanctity and dignity of life in accordance with existing law and the current rules, and the prohibition on federal funding of abortions should be consistently and diligently applied to any legislation. Strong “conscience” protections should be enacted for health-care workers to ensure they have the liberty to exercise their moral and religious beliefs in their profession. Evidence suggests that supporting low-income and pregnant women with adequate health care increases the number of women who chose to carry their child to term -- if we reform health care in the right way, we can reduce abortions in the U.S. While religious people don’t all agree on all the issues of abortion, we should agree that those differences must not be allowed to derail the crucial need for comprehensive health-care reform.
  5. For the next generation, health-care reform should be based on firm financial foundations. Health care is a vital and wise investment for the future of our families and society. But the way we pay for it should be fair and equitable and seek to lessen the burden on succeeding generations -- both in bringing everyone into the system and by bringing the costs of health care under control over time. Our religious traditions suggest that social justice and fiscal responsibility must not be pitted against each other, but balanced together in sound public policy that is affordable for individuals and for society.

So let us have the moral dialogue and debate -- let’s take the best of who we are, the greatest parts of our tradition, and use that to lead the way. The misinformation, falsehoods, and outright lies that have been circulating obscure the moral and religious core of this debate: that millions of people are suffering in an inequitable and inefficient health-care system, and that too many powerful people are profiting from that broken system in defiance of the common good. Perhaps the faith community could help model a more civil debate and find the sensible moral center that will help the country find the best solutions to the health of the nation.

To learn more about health-care reform, click here to visit Sojourners’ Health-Care Resources Web page.

E-mail E-mail this article to friends
Facebook Share this article on Facebook
Comment Comment on this article on the God's Politics Blog

INSIDE SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE

Poetry Audio: Keeping Promises

Every month, the poet featured in Sojourners magazine reads their poem for our online audience. This month, poet John Gosslee reads his poem, "Keeping Promises." John Gosslee attends Liberty University, where he is the poetry reader for The LAMP. Listen to the reading.

Play Audio

BUILDING A MOVEMENT

Change Not Chains

Jubilee USA

The most impoverished countries in the world owe debt: to the World Bank, to the International Monetary Fund, to the U.S., and to other developed nations. These debts cause resources to be diverted away from the basic needs of their own citizens -- shelter, education, health care, and even food.

But most of this debt is illegitimate since the nations have already paid back their original debts. The money still on the books is largely due to inflation-driven interest or money that was knowingly given to corrupt governments.

These nations are locked into a vicious cycle of repaying what they have already paid, and being unable to invest in their own communities and families. This is called “international debt slavery.”

But it doesn’t need to be this way: it would only cost 40 cents per U.S. resident to cancel the debt of 24 impoverished countries’ “owed” to the U.S., and about another $1 to cancel debts “owed” to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Join Jubilee USA’s new Change, Not Chains Campaign to seek an end to international debt slavery that keeps millions around the world in poverty.

ON THE GOD'S POLITICS BLOG

+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

Scripture and History Remind Us That We Are All Immigrants
by Lynne Hybels

Even though the issues of immigration can often be viewed as a political, economic, or security issue, our perspective on immigration has been formed at the community level as local church leaders. In this capacity, we are continually confronted with immigration, not necessarily as a policy issue but as a personal issue in which we witness the human consequences of a broken immigration system every day.
+ Click to continue

Smashing Economic Idols
by Julie Clawson

I'm a capitalist. I'm not anti-globalisation. I don't have any problem with people making money or looking out for their own interests. But there comes a point when we have to say to a system that oppresses -- this is wrong and must be changed.
+ Click to continue

Notorious Arizona Sheriff has Federal Immigration Enforcement Role Revoked
by Ian Danley

Living in Maricopa County, Arizona, we are used to seeing our Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, in the headlines, even national ones. Sheriff Arpaio has received lots of media coverage by his use (some might say, abuse) of the contractual agreement between the sheriff's department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to credential immigration 'sweeps' all over our county.
+ Click to continue

The Gospel According to the Conservative Bible Project
by Ernesto Tinajero

Jesus' words challenge Consevapedia's worldview. They also challenge my worldview, as they should. The truth is, all Christians try to remake God into our image. This is the very definition of the sin of pride.
+ Click to continue

The ACLJ and the Goldstone Report on Gaza War Crimes
by Aaron Taylor

The ACLJ wants its readers to believe that the "war crimes" Israeli soldiers have been accused of aren't real war crimes, they're imaginary war crimes. According to the official report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the Goldstone Report, here are some of the imaginary war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers while fulfilling their duty during the war in Gaza last December ...
+ Click to continue

Teaching Hope
by Luke McFadden

My first job after college forever changed the way I prayed. Before I started it, I prayed that God would show me how to best serve him after receiving my diploma. After I completed it, I prayed that the Christian community would recognize the responsibility it has to work for justice and equity.
+ Click to continue

Stopping Anti-Immigrant Violence at its Ideological Roots
by César Baldelomar

The battle to halt these injustices begins by attacking the erroneous and irrational ideologies fueling them.
+ Click to continue

Health Care: Human Right, Civil Right, Privilege, or Market Commodity
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

What is health care? Is it a human right, civil right, privilege or market commodity? Is it a public good, moral obligation, government obligation, job benefit, or individual responsibility? Ought it be subject to the profit motive and or to government regulation? Is it all, some, or none of the above?
+ Click to continue

David vs. Oil-iath
by Elizabeth Palmberg

I just saw a really good movie in which an overweight, pasty-looking guy makes outrageous statements related to capitalism. No, it's not Michael Moore -- rather, it's a flack for Chevron, standing in the middle of the Ecuadoran rainforest telling a judge that his company is not responsible for all the black sludge poisoning the indigenous communities there for the last several decades.
+ Click to continue

Jesus Didn't Overlook Gender, He Transcended It
by Mimi Haddad

In every religious and philosophical tradition, the bias against women is overwhelming, with one exception -- Jesus.
+ Click to continue

Praying for Those Liberals
by Eugene Cho

I've been called lots of different names and labeled with different words including the 'liberal' word. I've also been called a 'narrow-minded fundy,' 'wanna be progressive', 'classic conservative', 'christian communist,' and the list goes on. The positive about being labeled is that I might actually make it on someone's prayer list -- and who doesn't want prayer?
+ Click to continue

Sólo le Pido a Dios: Gracias por la Vida de Mercedes Sosa
by Ryan Rodrick Beiler

Mercedes Sosa was one of the best-known performers of Leon Gieco's heart-rending anti-war song, "Sólo le Pido a Dios." It strikes at the heart of what many of us who do not actually live in war zones must be especially active in resisting -- as body counts from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere become routine and conscience-numbing: "All I ask of God, is that the war not make me indifferent."
+ Click to continue

The Coen Brothers Get 'Serious'
by Cathleen Falsani

A litany of seemingly minor, but life-altering calumny leads Gopnik (who sees himself as a modern-day Job) to question the existence of God and the meaning of life -- and of suffering. He turns to three rabbis for answers to his questions, all of which are, the filmmakers seem to be saying, essentially, unanswerable.
+ Click to continue

How Our Health-Care System Wrecks People Who Play by the Rules
by Steve Taylor

I'm so angry about this demonic system, a system that destroys the lives of old folks and then seduces them into believing they are guilty of suicide.
+ Click to continue

Ken Burns' National Parks: An Unnatural Wilderness
by Randy Woodley

Ken Burns is known as a progressive thinker. In his recent interviews promoting his new series he appeared to be a true believer in democracy for all Americans, rich or poor, black or white, et al. That is why I was so surprised how "off the mark" his narrative about the formation of the national parks really was concerning the parks and the role of America's indigenous peoples.
+ Click to continue

Disability as Entertainment: So You Think I Can't Dance?
by Julie Clawson

At this point in the season they are just showing the try-outs -- which predictably have the fools trying to get on TV alongside the good dancers and the poor folks who think they can dance but obviously can't. But I've been bothered the past couple of seasons during the try-outs with how they deal with the handicapped dancers who come to give it a shot. It really hit home this week when they showed a girl who had come to try out who was missing her left hand just like me.
+ Click to continue

Listening to Poor People 'Offstage'
by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

In our rush to solve problems that are indeed urgent, we often overlook the wisdom of the weak, assuming that the losers in this world's system don't have much to offer. But Jesus insists the opposite is true: if we pay attention to the weak, we can learn the tactics of everyday resistance that are ultimately effective.
+ Click to continue

Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition
by Diana Butler Bass

I know that it is a free country, and that we have both religious freedom and certain rights to own guns. But when these two rights interweave -- as they are doing -- it is dangerous to both church and state.
+ Click to continue

Five Benefits of Common Security Clubs' Economic Solidarity
by Chuck Collins

Earlier this year, I wrote an article in Sojourners about Common Security Clubs: a mini-movement of people coming together in churches, community centers, and union halls to help each other understand and cope with the economic crisis. After it was published, more than 50 clubs immediately formed in congregations around the U.S.
+ Click to continue

The Financial Barriers to Legal Immigration
by Matthew Soerens

Most native-born U.S. citizens have no idea of the costs involved in immigration, which have risen dramatically in the past decade. The fees for a U.S. citizen parent to obtain green cards for his wife and two children could easily run beyond $4,000, not including the costs of mandatory medical exams and attorney fees, which could be several thousand dollars more.
+ Click to continue

Personal and Pragmatic Reasons for Health Reform
by Ernesto Tinajero

I know I could be disregarded as simply an emotional father, and there maybe truth to my being emotional. But others, like businesspeople, are coming to see the need for health care.
+ Click to continue

Singing and Praying Justice, Part 2
by Jeremy Del Rio

[continued from part 1] How can worship leaders help navigate oceans of justice within congregational gatherings? First, in the music and expressions of worship we embrace; and second, by facilitating worship as lifestyle, not just musical ritual.
+ Click to continue

SOJOURNERS IN THE NEWS

+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" e-mail - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

Dallas ministers joining forces with Justice Revival to fight social problems
The Dallas Morning News
Justice Revival is the idea of Sojourners, a Washington, D.C., ministry with a social justice focus. The first such event occurred last year in Columbus, Ohio. "It seemed like God was moving us to do it in Dallas," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners, which publishes a magazine by that name. "If this can happen in Dallas, it can send a signal to the country about what is possible for us all." +Click to continue


Dallas' Justice Revival to partner churches with their neighborhoods
The Dallas Morning News
The Justice Revival is an event: three days of worship featuring artists such as Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton and Jaci Velasquez, and speakers such as Jim Wallis, the evangelist who founded Sojourners and who conceived of the Justice Revival. The event – which is free – will happen in November. +Click to continue


Churches and schools: Why they can mix
The Dallas Morning News religion blog
We had an editorial board meeting yesterday with Jim Wallis of Sojourners Fellowship and representatives from Justice Revival, which is hosting a news conference today in Dallas to announce a November "revival" that its supporters want to deal with poverty issues without getting sidetracked by partisan divides. +Click to continue


Faith-Based Charities Should be Allowed to Protect Identity, Says Wallis
The Christian Post

The Baucus Ruckus
Christianity Today

Religious Groups Weigh In on Health Care Reform
Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.


ADVERTISERS

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!



H. Freeman Associates: Fundraising and Organization Development Consultants. To learn more about Henri Nouwen's book The Spirituality of Fund-Raising & to see a six-minute video click here for details.

Scared of being ‘left behind’? What does Revelation really teach us? Explore this question with Sojourners’ four-part study guide, Christians and the Apocalypse. Use it this Sunday with your small group -- available online. Click here.

What Would Jesus Buy? Find out in this feature-length DVD. Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping discover the meaning of the Shopocalypse -- the end of mankind from consumerism, over-consumption, and the fires of eternal debt.

Is God green? What does the Bible tell us about protecting the earth? Find out with Sojourners’ four-part study guide, Christians and the Environment. Learn more.

Music that speaks to your call! Martin Smith (Delirious?), Israel Houghton, Michael W. Smith, and many more want to share CompassionArt with you! A CD/DVD with 14 songs that stretch and inspire, joining the dots between faith, music, and action. Get your copy now!

Stickers! Magnets! Buttons! Show your stuff with pithy statements from Sojourners. Order yours today.



Click Here!

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: sojourners@sojo.net | Advertising: advertising@sojo.net | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.