Black Faith Leaders Encourage Their Flocks to Sign Up for Obamacare
Freddie Allen (NNPA Newswire Editor-In-Chief) | 12/8/2017, 7:31 p.m.
Faith leaders in the Black community are encouraging members of their congregations to sign-up for healthcare coverage during the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period that ends on December 15.
Reverend Edwin Sanders, the senior pastor and founder of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, Tenn., said that supporting positive dialogue about healthcare is a part of the faith tradition.
“We lift up healing as a benefit of our relationship to the God that we serve; we talk about the God who is a healer,” said Sanders. “There is a way in which those of us who are disciples, especially in the tradition of Jesus Christ, have a commitment to trying to make sure that we sustain these kinds of opportunities for people to get healed in our communities.”
Sometimes, that commitment means working with political leaders.
Congressman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) helped to launch the “Soul 2 Enroll” campaign, a national healthcare initiative aimed at mobilizing faith communities during the open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
During a recent press conference on Capitol Hill, Clyburn said that faith is about much more than a relationship between you and the God you serve.
“We are instructed that ‘faith without works is dead,’” said Clyburn. “If your brother or sister comes to you hungry or naked—and I believe if James were writing his epistle today, he would add sick—you feed them, you clothe them and provide them with healthcare.”
Pastor Marquez Ball of Uplift Church in Laurel, Maryland said that healthcare is not a game to score political points.
“Healthcare is a whole life issue,” said Ball.
Uplift Church is just one of the organizing faith partners for the “Soul 2 Enroll” initiative.
That group also includes: the National African American Clergy Network, Joseph A.C. Smith Ministries, the National Action Network, the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, the Skinner Leadership Institute, The United Church of Christ and Values Partnerships.
During a discussion about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) between congressional and faith leaders, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, the co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network, said that despite the budget cuts imposed on the ACA by the Trump Administration, the faith community is marching forward.
“The faith community knows how to do one thing: we know how to make bricks with no straw and we’re going to do it again,” said Williams-Skinner. “Healthcare is not a privilege; it is a right of every child of God.”
Williams-Skinner continued: “My Bible teaches that Jesus’s ministry was about healing and helping the afflicted and lifting up those that are wounded…we must do that with the Affordable Care Act.”
Reverend De-Ves Toon, the national field director for the National Action Network (NAN), said that NAN has helped to sign people up for healthcare coverage through the ACA since 2013 in more than 100 cities.
“All of our chapters have health and wellness committees that are doing on-the-ground outreach in their perspective cities,” said Toon. “We just don’t focus on this during the open enrollment period, we do this year-round.”