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Local Pastors Launch Nationwide Health Care Reform Campaign

Contact: Tim Lilienthal, PICO, 413-537-0631

Local Pastors Launch Nationwide Health Care Reform Campaign
Radio Ads in Seven States, Events in Hundreds of Congregations Urge Affordability for All Families

As Congress takes up health care reform, local faith leaders from across the country today launched a media and grassroots campaign to encourage Members of Congress to move reform forward and make quality health care truly affordable for every American family.

Ads will air beginning today through next week's Congressional recess on Christian and mainstream radio in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri and Nebraska. Airing in swing districts and states of Representatives and Senators who may well determine the fate of health reform, the ads are titled "Abundant Life." Listeners are reminded that "every person, created in the image of God, is of limitless value" and asked to contact their Members of Congress to encourage them "to work together to make quality health care choices affordable for all families."

The campaign also includes hundreds of events in congregations across the country, public meetings with Senators and Representatives, and other local and national lobbying efforts - all focused on the goal of enacting reform that makes quality health care choices affordable for all families.
"We want to remind our Members of Congress that health care is about real people, the people in my pews," said Rev. Rayfield Burns, a clergy spokesperson for the PICO National Network of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. "Nobody should have to rely on an emergency room for their health care or delay treatment because they lack insurance or have been denied coverage. This just isn't right."
During a national conference call with journalists today, local pastors -- many of whom have lent their voices to the radio ads airing in their state and who are regularly visiting Washington to lobby Congress -- spoke about the moral urgency of making health care affordable for all families and how their congregations are being directly impacted by the health care crisis.
"The rising costs of insurance and healthcare are putting incredible stress on people in our communities, from young families to the elderly," said Rev. Don Morrow of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Bentonville, Arkansas. "Followers of Christ should be at the forefront of the effort to get elected officials put politics aside and get something done on an issue which is literally a matter of life-and death."
The campaign also includes grassroots events, forums and meetings:
    • Holding "Health Care Sabbaths" and other events in hundreds of congregations nationwide;
    • Convening large public events and meetings with our Members of Congress;
    • Faith leaders traveling to Washington, DC on a monthly basis to meet with public officials and build support for reform;
    • Gathering signatures on a National Clergy Letter supporting comprehensive health reform that outlines core priorities of the faith community.
"Religious congregations across the country are organizing," said Rev. Dr. Cory Sparks, a PICO clergy member and pastor of Faith Community United Methodist Church in Lafayette, Louisiana. "We are making it clear to our Members of Congress that the majority of Americans want them to support health reform legislation that lowers costs for families and covers everyone."

"Affordable and accessible health care is not simply a medical issue it is also a moral issue," said Rev. Dr. Brent Johnston of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Marking an unprecedented degree of collaboration between faith-based community organizing networks and national religious groups, the campaign is sponsored and organized by PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Faithful America, Sojourners, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

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