Subject: NCC Weekly News: Health Care Bill Must Be Improved

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From Jim: "You see, we are all in this together"
Jim Winkler offered these remarks on June 29 at the conclusion of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community’s 24 hour vigil, in front of the U.S. Capitol, against the Senate health care legislation:

I want to thank my friends and colleagues who have organized this vigil. I see Quakers, Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Disciples, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, and others here. I regret that I have not been able to join you until now due to the recent illnesses and deaths of my mother and father and the subsequent stress and illness that I experienced. Through all that, I have been supported not only by family and a wide network of friends but also by medical systems and structures in our nation that enabled my family to get through all this without experiencing bankruptcy or poverty. Many others are not as fortunate as my family, and under this proposed legislation, even more people would face serious financial challenges due to health problems.

You see, we are all in this together. We all, regardless of faith or party affiliation, contribute to the common good partly through our taxes. Together, we provide for the common defense, for infrastructure, for the education, health, and general welfare of our people. Individually, we do not have such capacity. Together, we are a stronger, healthier, more vibrant society and work to be even stronger. Alone, we cannot thrive. Our individual stories and destinies merge and flow into the river of life. My own reality and those of everyone here bring us to this time and place.

Very simply, the National Council of the Churches of Christ believes all people should have access to affordable, quality health care. The United States of America has the resources to ensure all its people have such care. The Senate bill not only fails to provide for such access, it restricts it. Donald Trump was right when he said the House bill is mean. So too is the Senate bill.

For thousands of years, Scripture has taught us of the responsibility to care for those in need. These are communal responsibilities. The Bible does not promote the idea that only the fittest survive. That is why we have advocated together for a healthcare system that provides for everyone.

I’ll be the first to admit the Affordable Care Act needs improvement. There are still too many people uninsured in our country, costs are still too high, and there remains far too much reliance on private insurance companies. However, the answer to our problems cannot possibly be to throw more than 20 million people off of health insurance and give more money to the rich. That is a recipe for disaster.

Let us build on recent strides we have made to make healthcare available to more people and fix the problems that exist. Let’s not tear down what we have and throw vulnerable people on to the harsh realities of the market. That’s not who we are or what we should be.

The Bible teaches, “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land (Deuteronomy 15:11 NRSV).” We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and to take care of one another. We simply cannot remain silent in the face of this effort to do harm to our people.

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler,
General Secretary and President
Catholic bishops condemn Senate’s ‘simply unacceptable’ Trumpcare bill

It’s no secret the Republican attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with their own health care bill is deeply unpopular. Not only do the American Medical Association, more than 40 economics (including six Nobel laureates), and several GOP lawmakers all oppose the latest draft of the Senate bill, but no state i n the union has voiced majority support for the effort to replace Obamacare — including deeply conservative regions.

And now, as GOP senators struggle to handle the blowback over the latest draft of their bill, they can add faith groups to the growing list of staunch opponents.

Within hours of news that the Senate bill will likely leave 22 million people uninsured over ten years, Bishop Frank Dewane, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Domestic Justice and Humane Development Committee, issued a scathing critique of the Republican-led effort.

Statement by the Cuban Council of Churches regarding recent changes in US policy

THE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES OF CUBA, THE LEADING INSTITUTION OF THE CUBAN ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT, is made up of 51 Christian and Protestant Churches and institutions - Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Episcopal and Orthodox - as well as Jews and Yogas, centers of study, information, community service and theological seminaries. Since its foundation in 1941, the Council has proclaimed unity for the service of our people and nation, through the search for love, justice and peace among peoples and nations, which are the most evident evangelical signs of the reign of God among us.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States brought about a new era based on the new policies undertaken during the Obama administration. It had been the dream and struggle of many who also included churches and religions on both sides.

A path of respect and dialogue demonstrated hope to the world that once civilized relations are established bridges can be built and walls torn down. These agreements between both countries, result of the work of many years and of several generations, had and have the support of the wide community of believers at national and global levels.

Today, June 16, President Donald Trump has announced another policy that involves a setback in a path that, although fragile, established clear steps in a strategy of coexistence where everyone could benefit and that promised a future of peace and understanding, not only between the two nations but for the whole region.

Baptist leaders say Trump’s Cuba policy is a step backward

Baptists working to foster fraternal relationships between churches in the United States and Cuba criticized President’s Trump plan to roll back some of the steps that President Obama took to open relationships between the two countries.

“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Trump said in a speech June 16, the same day he issued a presidential memorandum on “strengthening the policy of the United States toward Cuba.”

Analysts say while it signals a more confrontational relationship with the Castro-led government, Trump’s policy is only a partial shift.

It does not end normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and embassies in Washington and Havana will remain open. Corporations can still do business with the island, except for the parts controlled by the military, and there are no further restrictions on types of goods that Americans can take out of Cuba, including rum and cigars.

It does add restrictions on American travel, in order to “ensure adherence to the statutory ban on tourism to Cuba,” and requires “that educational travel be for legitimate educational purposes.” The policy opposes efforts to end the economic embargo in place since the Cuban Revolution in the late 1950s in hopes it will lead to a transition of power on the island.

Action Alert: Please Contact Your Senator!

The details are out on the Senate health care bill, and many of our deepest fears are confirmed.  Join with people of faith all over the nation in speaking on behalf of the poor and needy: health care cannot be diminished so that wealthy persons can have tax cuts!

Your Senators need to know that you care about how the poor are treated by those in power. Send a message today asking your Senator to protect healthcare for the poor!

A Pastoral Letter from ABCUSA General Secretary Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer

The recent terrorist attacks in England, the apparently politically motivated shooting that took place in Virginia, ongoing debates over how to treat immigrants and visitors to our country, and the struggles of another Baptist denomination to take a clear stand on issues related to white supremacy remind us all that we are living in a violent and divided world that desperately needs to overcome every form of social and political discrimination and search for more just ways to live in harmony. In 2017, American Baptists gladly and forthrightly reassert our fundamental Baptist convictions regarding individual liberty, dignity and respect for all people, regardless of their racial or ethnic heritage, political or religious beliefs, or any other factor. In 1976, the General Board affirmed a policy statement on human rights, which said:

“Baptist history is rooted in concern for conscience and for freedom of individual beliefs, for choice, and for unregimented living whether by religious dogma and institution or by social and political structures. John Bunyan in prison and Roger Williams driven from Massachusetts, reflect commitment to these ideas, as did Martin Luther King, in his witness to human dignity and the rights of minority groups. Resolutions by the American Baptist Churches over the years have particularly sought to reflect the denomination’s basic principles of freedom of thought and belief, the right of dissent, the responsibility to speak prophetically to church and society and support for human dignity and social justice.”

In the past, American Baptists have expressed these convictions in resolutions and statements, which make clear we have consistently opposed every form of racism and discrimination. For example, in 1983, the ABC General Board declared,

“We, as American Baptists, believe that all people are made in the image of God and that the right to human dignity, to be respected and treated as a person without regard to race, is foundational to our faith… Racism, whether individual or corporate, is a sin against God… We affirm the diversity of races and cultures as distinctive aspects of our denomination. We accept each person as a full participant and each race and each culture as valid expressions within the life and witness of the ABC family.”

The statement rejected manifest destiny as “a form of white racism which has affected the way the United States views its role in the world and views immigrants to this country. As American Baptists, we will seek to create a new image for this nation in which the cultures, the contributions, the insights and the abilities of all racial groups are valued.”

Ecumenical Opportunities:

Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice is seeking an event planner-conference director for our April 21 – 24, 2018 Advocacy Days event. The Event Planner-Director will build on the dynamic tradition established by fifteen successful previous annual meetings and be committed to facilitating an ongoing exploration of ways to make the 2018 event even more exciting and powerful, with an expanded impact on the domestic and international policies we address.

American Baptist Women's Ministries is hiring an Executive Director: American Baptist Women’s Ministries (ABWM) is a Christ-centered ministry with a commitment to encourage and empower women and girls to serve God. Our vision is for every American Baptist church to have a vital women's ministry program that empowers women and girls to become and develop as God's person, build God's faith community, and serve God's world.

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