What do the following Churches and religious organizations have in common? The Episcopal Church (I am proud to be an Episcopalian), American Friends Service Committee, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice (and several other Catholic organizations), Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Unitarian Universalist Association? They are included in a total of 34 religious organizations who this past week wrote a common letter to all U.S. Senators, strongly opposing the draft American Health Care Act, or “Trump Care.” The letter runs four pages, too long to quote here.
Why are these Churches involving themselves in this, a political matter? The letter states why, with words that all of us should think about. In all of our belief systems we have a “moral responsibility to ensure all may live with dignity and the opportunity to recognize their full potential. Access to affordable, quality health care should not and cannot be a privilege; it is a requirement rooted in faith to protect the life and dignity of every person.”
As someone whose adult life has mostly been spent in uniform defending the Constitution and our American way of life, I have a deep commitment to freedom and to free markets. But health care is like air and water: too vital to be left to the vagaries of the market system. Poor and rich alike deserve treatment when ill, and healing when injured. It is easy to claim that proper nutrition and exercise are available to everyone, and that these will keep one healthy enough not to need the type of health care available to every citizen of, for example, the European Union, but a bit of reflection belies that. Just think about the uncertainty of cancer, of childhood epidemics in the young and Alzheimer’s in the old, and of the shortage of nutritional meals even here in South Carolina – not to mention many, many other unpredictable illnesses as well as sudden injuries that always seem to befall us at the worst time.
All of us are subject to the human condition, and health care is one area in which we should all pitch in to help one another. That is what citizenship and responsibility are all about. We require every driver to have automobile insurance, even if they have a perfect driving record. Insurance spreads the risk so that all are covered, in health care just as in automobiles.
Many churches are taking this opportunity not just to preach about the mandate given to all of us to “Heal the Sick,” but actually to do something about it. The list is much longer than shown above, and I hope that your church is among them as mine is; you might ask next Sunday. And by the way, another organization signing this letter is the Islamic Society of North America. Truly this is an issue that transcends politics. We are all in this world together, and we must each of us help one another when the need arises. Let us work along with our Churches to ensure that whatever replaces “Obama Care” is better than “Trump Care.”