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Religious Leaders Support Health Care Reform

Comprehensive Health Care Reform an "Urgent Priority"


Religious Leaders Support Health Care Reform

Americans waiting on August 12, 2009 at a free health clinic in Los Angeles. Remote Area Medical, a non-profit, coordinated hundreds of doctors, dentists, optometrists, and nurses who volunteered to serve as many as 10,000 people from August 11 to 18.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

In July 2009, U.S. religious leaders from a wide spectrum of faith traditions issued a joint statement (below) in support of health care reform, citing it as an urgent priority " so that all of our neighbors, especially the people living in poverty, children, and the aged, can be assured of the fullness of life that is central to the holy vision of a beloved and peaceable community."


Today health care reform has become an urgent priority, with many Americans fearful about the health care they now hold and more than 45 million lacking coverage altogether. Rising unemployment, underemployment and a decline in employment benefits have deprived many more of health care. The health of our neighbors and the wholeness of the nation now require that all segments of our society join in finding a solution to this national challenge.

  • "...Learn to do good, seek justice; rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:17
  • "...Love your neighbor as you love yourself." Matthew 22:39
  • "...Ye who believe! Stand up firmly for Allah, witness to justice...be just, that is next to piety." Qur'an 5:8

Our diverse communities of faith -Jewish, Christian and Muslim- are each shaped and guided by our respective sacred texts which compel us to speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable members of our society. Today that means making comprehensive and compassionate health care reform an urgent priority so that all of our neighbors, especially the people living in poverty, children, and the aged, can be assured of the fullness of life that is central to the holy vision of a beloved and peaceable community.

No longer can we afford to squander the hopes and dreams of the American people through a much-too-costly system that contributes to economic despair. Families and individuals must be able to rely on affordable care in times of illness or accident and preventative care to safeguard health and well-being. Those who are ill need the assurance that coverage will not be canceled by illness or employment circumstance. They should also be afforded the dignity of selecting their own caregivers.

Today we pray, each in our own custom, for discernment, boldness, clarity and leadership in each segment of our society so that we may find the resolve to achieve health reform worthy of this land. As we together pursue this vision our direction is certain-it is toward the common good. The prospect of high-quality, affordable health care for everyone is a measure of our wholeness as a nation.

We pray that our best minds and kindest hearts might be joined in this effort so that all men, women and children will have the health care they need to live the lives for which they were created. We stand ready to give our support and energies to its achievement.

Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Armenian Apostolic Church
President of the National Council of Churches

Bishop Wayne Burkette
Moravian Church in America, Southern Province

Rev. Dr. Miriam Burnett
Medical Director
African Methodist Episcopal Church Health Commission

Rev. Jerry D. Campbell, Ph.D.
Claremont School of Theology

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
Executive Director
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Margurite Carter
National Board President
Church Women United

The Right Reverend John Bryson Chane
Episcopal Bishop of Washington
District of Columbia

Bishop Ronald M. Cunningham
Ecumenical Officer
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. William H. Curtis
Hampton University Minister’s Conference

Bishop Christopher Epting
Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations
The Episcopal Church

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell
Ecumenical Officer
Progressive National Baptist Convention

Rabbi Steve Gutow
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Dr. Richard L. Hamm
Former General Minister & President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US & Canada

Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Dr. Michael Kinnamon
General Secretary
National Council of Churches

Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in San Francisco
Chair, Interfaith Network of Spiritual Progressives

Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner
Connectional Presbyter
Presbytery of the Palisades (NJ)

Rev. Michael E. Livingston
Executive Director, International Council Community Churches
Past President, National Council of Churches

Marie Lucey, OSF
Associate Director for Social Mission
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Dr. David McAllister-Wilson
Wesley Theological Seminary

Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary
American Baptist Churches

Stanley J. Noffsinger
General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

Harriett Jane Olson
Deputy General Secretary, Women's Division
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk
Presbyterian Church USA

Rev. Dr. Tyrone Pitts
General Secretary
Progressive National Baptist Convention

Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader
Ecumenical Officer
United Methodist Church

Nancy Ratzan
National Council of Jewish Women

Rabbi David Saperstein
Executive Director, Chief Legal Counsel,
The Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center

The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
Episcopal Church

Dr. Robert Seymour
Minister Emeritus
Binkley Memorial Baptist Church

Ronald J. Sider
Evangelicals for Social Action

Rev. Dr. T. DeWitt Smith
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed
National Director
Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America

Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Bishop George Walker, Jr.
Senior Bishop
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Dr. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada

Dr. Robert Welsh
President, Council on Christian Unity
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada

The Rev. David L. Wickmann
Moravian Church-Northern Province

Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Church

A complete list of signers can be found at the National Council of Churches website.

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