Although faith may lead the folks profiled in What’s the Matter with Kansas? to support right-wing policies, it’s leading others to demand progressive ones.
On Wedesday, an interfaith coalition gathered at Freedom Plaza in the nation’s capital to hold what they called the Interfaith Service of Witness and Prayer for Health Care for All. It’s a cumbersome name that evokes a simple idea: faith demands that sick people be treated. With President Obama and Congress now negotiating a health care reform bill, the message is timely.
One Catholic nun put it this way: “The marketplace has failed in the delivery of health care. We as a nation were foolish to think that health care can run on a completely free market model. Health care is a ministry — it is a faith-based action.” In other words, an economy’s morality is judged not by how much it relies on free markets, but on how well it lifts up those who are vulnerable and need help.
The pro-health coalition — containing Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Hindus, and others — reflects the often-overlooked strain of progressivism that runs through all major faiths. The James Dobsons and the Pat Robertsons of the world have enjoyed generous press coverage in recent years, but myriad faith-based organizations fight for a very different set of goals: ending poverty, living in peace, protecting God’s creation (i.e. the environment), and ensuring the dignity of every worker.
Often, the question before public officials is not whether their policies will be consistent with faith, but which views of faith will be reflected in public policy.