A different kind of religious/political push

A DIFFERENT KIND OF RELIGIOUS/POLITICAL PUSH…. In recent years, when there are reports about religious leaders getting organized to launch a public policy initiative, they tend to be conservative. Pastors and ministers, for example, routinely enter the fray in opposition to gay civil rights or reproductive rights.

With that in mind, I like to see religious/political activism coming from the other direction for a change.

President Barack Obama plans to tap into a national religious network to advance his health care agenda with a telephone appearance on Aug. 19.

A coalition of interfaith religious groups backing health care reform has launched a 40-day campaign targeting 100 Members of Congress with a variety of local faith-based events and landed Obama as the headliner for a telephone call-in event next week.

The campaign also features a low-budget TV ad showing Christians advocating for reform and asking Members to do so as well. The ad says special interests are spending millions to block reform so they can keep their profits.

Sponsoring the campaign are the PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Faithful America, Sojourners, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. The message is pretty straightforward — as the Rev. Jim Wallis put it, “All of God’s children [have] got to be covered now. This is not a partisan political move. You are going to hear the moral drumbeat throughout this debate.”

It’s a fairly comprehensive campaign, which will include President Obama participating in a nationwide call-in discussion and audio webcast with faith leaders on August 19. Throughout the month, there are also a series of pro-reform, in-district “prayer rallies,” intended to reach 100 lawmakers.

As we talked about over the weekend, I tend to think this is a worthwhile effort, and at this point, the more organized support there is for reform, the better the legislation’s chances are. Besides, it sets up an interesting dynamic — right-wing mobs screaming about Hitler and “death panels” on the side, doctors, nurses, and religious leaders committed to improved health care for all on the other.