Religion, Social Justice And Medicare For All

These are difficult days for genuinely religious folks–the ones who understand their theologies to require ethical and loving behaviors.

The 2016 election highlighted the glaring hypocrisies of Evangelical Trump supporters; more recently, it’s Catholics who are cringing. In Pennsylvania, a grand jury found the Church had concealed 70 years of sexual abuse by over 300 priests. Here in Indianapolis, the administration of a Catholic high school learned that a longtime, much-loved guidance counselor is in a same-sex marriage, and demanded that she divorce her wife or resign.

Not exactly ethical or loving behaviors.

On the other hand, dozens of local Catholics, including alumni of that high school, are publicly and vigorously supporting the counselor, and others are prominent advocates for social justice, and for programs to help the poor.

Local Catholics are also prominent advocates of establishing a “Medicare for All” chapter in Indianapolis.

In an essay for the National Catholic Reporter, law professor Fran Quigley argues eloquently that faith communities–including his– need to make a moral case for universal health care.

Mark Trover of Indiana had a job and access to health insurance, but the premiums and co-pays were too high for him to afford. A doctor had prescribed medicine for his dangerously high blood pressure, but the cost was high and Trover stopped filling the prescription — right up until the time he suffered a stroke that left him permanently disabled.

Karyn Wofford of Georgia has type 1 diabetes, and has often been forced to ration the insulin she needs to survive. The cost of the medicine has risen over 1,000 percent in recent years, and the 29 year-old knows there are many other Americans who have suffered and even died from diabetic ketoacidosis because they could not afford the medicine. “Having access to diabetic supplies and insulin, to feel okay when I wake up in the morning — that’s my dream,” she wrote for the T1 International blog.

These stories represent the status quo of U.S. health care. Even after the Affordable Care Act, there are over 28 million people in our country living completely without health coverage, a group disproportionately made up of people of color. Among those who do have insurance coverage, nearly a third are enrolled in high-deductible insurance plans that can force them to skip filling prescriptions or go without other necessary care.

These stories–and the millions of Americans who have similar ones–are shameful reminders that the United States lags behind virtually all other industrialized countries when it comes to the health of our citizens. Ironically, we are far more religious than citizens of countries that run circles around us when it comes to health care.

As Fran documents, however, religious leaders are finally mobilizing:

In response to the mean-spirited and fiscally self-sabotaging efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act last year, faith groups raised their collective voice, and to great effect. Dozens of denominations and organizations from a wide range of faith traditions issued joint statements, mobilized their members, and conducted a dramatic Capitol Hill vigil. They brought a morally powerful foundation to the resistance to Affordable Care Act repeal efforts.

As a March 2017 letter signed by leaders of 40 faith organizations said, “The scriptures of the Abrahamic traditions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, as well as the sacred teachings of other faiths, understand that addressing the general welfare of the nation includes giving particular attention to people experiencing poverty or sickness.”

That shared mandate compelled us as people of faith to act to preserve the Affordable Care Act, which has expanded care to millions of Americans who needed it. Now, those same sacred teachings require us to speak out with just as much urgency to fully repair the gaps left behind even after the act is preserved.

All major religious traditions recognize a responsibility to provide for the poor and the sick–and while the ACA is an important step in the right direction, it falls far short of being universal. What is needed is a single-payer system like those in other first-world countries.

Legislation packaged as “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All” has over 120 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives and support from a growing number of senators, reflecting polls that show a majority of Americans support a single-payer system.

But the will of the people does not always translate into changed policies, especially when heavily financed lobbyists and campaign contributors from insurance and pharmaceutical companies block the path. That is where the faith community comes in. The economic argument in favor of a single-payer, universal health care system is undeniably powerful, but the moral case for health care as a human right is even stronger. The faith community stands in the ideal place to advance that moral argument.

I encourage those reading this to click through and read the article in its entirety, or even one of my earlier posts, which comes to the same conclusion. I especially encourage you to attend the inaugural meeting of the Medicare for All Group next Thursday, August 23d, to be held at 6:30 at Indianapolis’ First Friends Church.

This effort is a timely reminder that sincere “people of faith”–all faiths–are working for social justice. They don’t make as much noise as the theocrats and hypocrites, and they aren’t as newsworthy, but these efforts remind us that there are also a lot of good people in those pews.


  1. It is ironic that one of the choices given to the Roncalli High School guidance counselor was to divorce her wife, because the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce.

  2. People of Faith –
    In my lifetime they have been the horrible people who make life just awful for Gay people.
    They preach hate towards normal Gay folks and then they chase little boys around –
    and rape them . Amen
    They are Just awful awful humans
    I think anyone who claims to have great faith in Santa or whatever, should be bared from public office. People with more rational minds should be in office

  3. Thank you for this article, Sheila, and for mentioning the 8/23 meeting date. I put it on my calendar. Just yesterday the Washington Post shamefully published a propaganda opinion piece by HHS secretary Alex Azar which praises Trump for reducing healthcare costs and giving the American people the freedom to choose insurance that best fits their needs. Ugh.

  4. This, “But the will of the people does not always translate into changed policies, especially when heavily financed lobbyists and campaign contributors from insurance and pharmaceutical companies block the path.”

    If they want to make an impact, protest outside Eli Lilly headquarters. Go to the root of the problem. The statehouse puppets could care less…they get paid well to obstruct the people.

    We lost this country decades ago…while the people fit among the imaginary right-left political spectrum, our country is an Oligarchy which means there are a few at the top and then everybody else.

    Until those everybody’s gets on the same page and quit fighting each other, nothing changes.

    We are in the late stages of capitalism so there are one of two directions we can go. Choose wisely.

  5. We also need to hear from the American Medical Association. Medicare was passed after they conceded that it was a good and proper thing to do.

  6. Todd,

    “We lost this country decades ago…while the people fit among the imaginary right-left political spectrum, our country is an Oligarchy which means there are a few at the top and then everybody else.”

    THAT’S REALITY. But how can WE the PEOPLE regain our country without fighting FASCISM, which is always Capitalism’s next step when it is under stress?

  7. “These are difficult days for genuinely religious folks–the ones who understand their theologies to require ethical and loving behaviors.”

    The same can be said for the few remaining real Republicans who understand their foundation to require ethical, humanistic, moral and legal behaviors…which add up to democracy which is bordering on extinction thanks to Trump, his administration and Congress who are funded by SCOTUS through Citizens United.

    Regarding the upcoming meeting of Medicare For All Group; “This effort is a timely reminder that sincere “people of faith”–all faiths–are working for social justice.” I fear this will be another Custer’s Last Stand situation as they are vastly outnumbered by those with the money and the power to win that battle any time soon. I support their efforts 100% as I support Bernie Sanders continuing efforts to that end but, as the old saying goes; “Don’t hold your breath.” This end will require many skirmishes leading up to actual battles before the war gets started.

  8. There is nothing, nothing at all I can say in any way good about the Catholic Church – I will leave it at that on that subject. Medicare is something that is beneficial – unlike the Church(es) or the present administration and its lackeys.

  9. I have been a practicing Catholic for my entire life. To be identified with an organization that has men in power who systematically abuse children make me physically ill. The basic tenets of all Abrahamic traditions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims teach us to care for those who are in pain and suffering, whether physically, mentally or financially. There are good, caring and loving people in all of those faith traditions. I hope that I am not painted with the same brush as the vile perpetrators and their enablers. I am struggling, shamed and angry at what the Church has done. If I leave, how will change ever happen? If I stay, will I be giving tacit approval for the evil done in my name?

  10. JoAnn,

    “Don’t hold your breath.” This end will require many skirmishes leading up to actual battles before the war gets started.”

    Assuming you’re RIGHT, wouldn’t it be more effective, if we, NOW as a COUNTRY, analyzed the FINAL EFFECTS of those “actual battles before the war gets started”?

    German military intelligence did just that before Adolph Hitler made his decision to invade the Soviet Union. They knew it was a NO WIN situation, before the invasion started. Hitler wouldn’t listen to them. The disaster for the German people could have been avoided.

    How does the above scenario differ from the decision of Donald Trump and his allies in the Republican Party, as they PREPARE WAR against half the population of this country?

    See: “The March of Folly: From Troy to Viet Nam” by Barbara W. Tuchman (Ballantine Books, New York, 1984).

    Vote Blue!

  11. president putin,slaps brennon,for speaking out,( be glad it wasnt russia,)
    welcome to the u.s.of r…


    “‘I have known literally thousands of Germans in government and private circles. I never met one who was fully confident of the success of the Nazi experiment. I never met one except Hitler himself who gave me the impression that he was so loyal to the Third Reich that he would cheerfully give his life in its defense.’ [This was was written a few months before the outbreak of W.W. II]

    The German people are still obedient, but not enthusiastic. They will follow Hitler as long as he seems to be victorious, but with their fingers crossed. If disaster come, if they face defeat, then the LATENT, HIDDEN DISTRUST will rise quickly to the surface. Then the moral defeats of the Nazi system will be felt in a widespread betrayal and repudiation of National Socialism.

    The Nazis have taught the Germans to be selfish. They have been only too successful in such instruction. Their pupils will one day callously abandon Hitler. I can well believe that the day may come when no German will admit that he ever was a Nazi or wore a brown shirt.

    I remember a high German officer who pointed to the swastika on his uniform and said, ‘I have already sworn a different times to be true to death to three regimes—the Kaiser, the Republic, and Hitler. I wonder how many more different oaths of loyalty I shall have to take before my life is over.’ [First we have Trump, then we have Pence, then what?]”

    ~”You Can’t Do Business with Hitler: What a Nazi Victory would mean to every American” by Douglas Miller (Atlantic-Little, Brown Book, 1941) pp. 158-9.

  13. Marv; I thought this is what we ARE trying to do as we try to bring the party together. Turning chaos into cohesive action is not a simple matter. At the same time we are trying to decipher what Trump’s “FINAL EFFECTS” will be from hour to hour as he spouts “…a tale told by an idiot who struts upon the stage, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” He is a constantly moving target among countless moving targets, all with those “FINAL EFFECTS” which need to be analyzed.

    “Assuming you’re RIGHT, wouldn’t it be more effective, if we, NOW as a COUNTRY, analyzed the FINAL EFFECTS of those “actual battles before the war gets started”?”

  14. I’m glad that some religious groups are arguing for universal health care but it will mean that Congress would have to be willing to increase taxes on the 9.9% and that wealthy billionaires would have to pay far higher taxes. Who has the political will to raise taxes? I would even pay more if it meant that every American when sick or injured would have access to the treatment they need. That would INCLUDE people who are mentally ill and addicted. As a psychiatric RN and substance use counselor, I have seen insurance companies practice system stigma against those with addictions and mental illness. Their refusal to pay for treatment has contributed to the epidemic of opioid addiction.

  15. H.R.676 – Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act now has 123 Co-Sponsors all Democrats. According to Ballotpedia, As of July 2018, the Republican Party was in the majority, holding 236 seats to Democrats’ 193 seats, with six seats being vacant.

    This means 70 “Democrats” refuse to sign on to H.R.676. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats “Leader” in the House has NOT signed on to HR 676. Pelosi could do us all a favor by announcing she will not be a candidate for a House Leadership position after the 2018 election.

    ACA was a flawed plan from the start. It was typical of our for profit health care system, your degree of care was contingent on what you could afford. Retirees with Medicare, also need some type of so called Medigap policies: You must have Medicare Part A and Part B. You pay the private insurance company a monthly premium for your Medigap policy. Prescription Drugs requires another stand alone policy.

    The facts are out there – Americans pay more per capita, and as a percentage of GDP, then Canadians would. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Canadians live almost three years longer than Americans overall.

    I do not expect the evangelicals to come on board H.R.676 – Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act. I am sure they would have a variety of objections, probably centered around birth control.

  16. JoAnn,

    “Marv; I thought this is what we ARE trying to do as we try to bring the party together.”

    ” At the same time we are trying to decipher what Trump’s “FINAL EFFECTS” will be from hour to hour as he spouts…. “

    You’re talking about guessing. That isn’t the same thing as analyzing intelligence, especially WARNING INTELLIGENCE, which comes from CONTINUAL intelligence activities over many years.

    You have to start from the BEGINNING when you’re analyzing the MASSIVE POLITICAL DECEPTION which has occurred for 50 years or more. Much of it has been in the form of a VIRUS OF THE MIND, which might be best described as a new strain of the so-called, HITLER VIRUS.

    Like investigating any EPIDEMIC, you must discover the GROUND ZERO of the outbreak, as a virus can mutate its form. You then must TRACK the virus to understand its final form, in order to “hit the target” with an effective vaccine at the opportune time.

    Vote Blue!

  17. On one side we want Medicare for All, and on the other side extreme for profit healthcare system. Congress is being inundated with monies from the Profit sector, tempting them to focus on healthy profits over the healthcare of human beings. I don’t think that way is sustainable. We see what happened when the market was allowed to stay in the equation (ObamaCare). Greed vs. the needs of human beings. I can remember when health insurance was not-for-profit(Blue Cross-Blue Shield) & how it was more effective than present day methods. Profiteering health insurance has ruined a genius tool for humane need. The clouding of issues in this area needs clarification. I’m tired of politicians/business people throwing around terms to confuse people over these matters. Now they want to diminish Medicare for the elderly! We do need to change government to be for the good of all Americans! Single payer works well in other countries and can here too!

  18. JoAnn,

    If you have a chance, read the following:

    [PDF] Warning Intelligence by Cynthia M. Grabo…/GRABO%20Cynthia%20Warning%20Intelligence%20-%20A…
    WARNING INTELLIGENCE. Cynthia M. Grabo. Intelligence Profession Series. Number Four. The Association of Former Intelligence Officers. McLean, Virginia.

  19. I have lost all faith in the Catholic Church’s ability to plug the holes in its sinking ship. Good Catholics can and do exist, but they can continue to be good people even when not affiliated with an organization unable to change its ways. I’ve written the following letter-to-the editor suggesting the disestablishment of the offending organization:

    When malevolence engulfs an institution and renders it intolerable to civilization, and it proves itself powerless to reform, the solution is to discard it and to disavow the corrupt beliefs that once appeared to justify its existence. Slavery is a good example. Is it now time to send the Catholic Church into the oblivion that it richly deserves for savaging the emotional lives of countless thousands of its followers? The recent Pennsylvania sexual abuse atrocities by 300 vile priests against a thousand innocent children, covered up methodically by church superiors, are simply the latest manifestation of that institution’s long-running, sadistic practices toward its most innocent followers. One elected official said that the church has “weaponized faith” for the self-gratification of men who delight in perversion, not in the celibacy they swore to live by.

    Given the church’s institutional history and the metastasizing nature of these crimes, forgiveness is not an option. Like any criminal organization, you defeat them by jailing those responsible for the felonies and their cover up. Even the Pope’s close assistants are not free of the sexual assault charges. Could he not have known? Sexual abuse is all about power. By eliminating the institution, we can remove its ability to ravage children who have been taught to look up to the deplorable men, devoid of morals, who abuse them. Our 1950’s ignorance of these offenses is no longer an excuse. These practices have been prevalent in Ireland, Australia, the U.S., Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands and elsewhere. They have been headlines for so long that they shock us only in the sense that we believe the church wouldn’t dare offend again in the same way. But we are wrong. And it does. Repeatedly.

    Now we are forced to choose between the welfare of children and the continued right of priests to exercise their depravity in sinister ways. In some cases it was that depravity that lured them into the safe zone Catholicism has always provided. In others, the admonition to “lead us not into temptation” proved no deterrent at all. If we care about our children, this unreformed gang of sexual perverts must be disbanded for all time. We’ve given them countless chances to reform. Does it make sense to keep counting?

  20. It seems to me that Evangelicals are the recruitment wing of Christianity and everyone has noticed that they haven’t been successful at that job for several decades. Someone has to be blamed for their failure so that have selected many other institutions to blame.

    However it’s become apparent after all of that blaming that the problem is them. They aren’t behaving like Christians so have lost the essence of their faith.

    Can they recover? They were hoping that if they partner with the devil, Agent Orange, they would expand their reach but even that bizarre step has backfired on them. Where is God?

    Not in DC apparently.

  21. Forget religion and whatever moral obligations our faith requires. The preamble of our Constitution states one of our goals is “to promote the general welfare”. Everything we do should be in support of those stated goals. But with the divisive rhetoric that pervades public discourse today, everything that doesn’t help everyone simultaneously is called an entitlement. And these so-called entitlements are not considered rights because they are not spelled out in the Bill of Rights. I asume the Founding Fathers did not believe that we would become such a nation of idiots that we would have to have everything spelled out for us. General welfare covers a lot of ground like public health care and education, things that we may need at different points in our lives and at different levels. An entitlement is something you don’t need and are given or take on the basis that you believe it’s owed you. Tax breaks for the rich are entitlements. Education and health care are not. We all need these things.

  22. Health care outside the home began as the mission of various religious groups: Protestant Deaconesses and Catholic nuns are examples. The sick and poor were neglected because there was no organized system to meet their needs. The hospitals founded by these religious women have grown into huge health care systems, but the charitable roots of their founding has been lost in the lust for power and money. Big hospital, big pharma and big doctor practices know that some day enough people will be sick of the ridiculously high medical bills, co-pays and deductibles, that they will demand that changes happen. That’s why hospitals are buying up doctor practices: for negotiating power. Did you know that big pharma spends more money advertising prescription drugs than it spends in research and development? Why is this allowed?

    They also put out lies, calculated to cause fear: for instance, Canadians flock to the U.S. and pay out of pocket because it takes 10 years to get a hernia repaired. Also: that Canadians aren’t happy with their “socialized medicine”. This also is untrue. Other examples: there’ll be “death squads” (Sarah Palin’s favorite argument) and “rationing”, so you can’t just go to the doctor or hospital any old time you want to. You’ll have to wait until all of those people you think don’t deserve the same health care as you get seen, including “illegals”.

    I see the problem here as having the same root cause as the inexplicable support for Trump by some people: white entitlement, expressed as, for instance: “I’ve got mine (health care, in this case), and if you get the same benefits, my advantage will be watered down (fewer benefits or higher cost) or lost (I can’t see my doctor anytime I want because of all these undesirables [blacks, browns, the “cultural other”] pushing their way in and filling up appointments)”; or “I worked for it and I deserve it–you don’t. You deserve welfare”. The latter expresses the beliefs of some older people, even “religious” ones. They really don’t see health care as a human right or the fundamental injustice of the current system. Until it hurts them, they won’t, either. It has become an issue of human justice, and one which religious groups should become involved in.

  23. The key point to bear in mind is that the Republican Party, shaped and controlled and bankrolled by the Koch brothers and 500 supportive plutocrats, denies the validity of any government spending that is not for national defense, enhancing policing, or protecting the rights of the “makers” as they resist the predatory “takers” (you and me). Medicaid must go. Social Security must go. Medicare must go. All social welfare programs must be abolished to protect the best (richest) among us. Their money belongs to them and not to the less able who would take it from them. That is an precise, succinct statement of 21st century Republicanism. Until all who disagree understand that, we will continue to engage in battles that are unrelated to this Republican/libertarian view of the proper role of democracy.

  24. Marv; I did google the site and will return to spend time to read and absorb the information. The problem today is that the so called intelligence and security appointees in the White House to provide a warning system are the ones we need to be warned about. Trump has turned Intelligence Warning into his demand for that wall because the Mexican drug dealers, rapists and killers are coming for us…obviously with their children which explains why he turned ICE loose on them. ICE was created after 9/11 as part of DHS to stop the terrorist and the drugs from entering the country – from all sides. The Warning Intelligence I am waiting for is not from the current administration but the one coming FOR them…”Jesus is coming and he is pissed!!!”

    “Local Catholics are also prominent advocates of establishing a “Medicare for All” chapter in Indianapolis.”

    “Religion, Social Justice And Medicare For All” Let’s look at those issues in light of the known history and current Pennsylvania situation regarding the Catholic Church as a whole regarding Medicare for all. I view this as a money-saving effort on their part; another way to live off the government tit along with their current tax exempt status and receiving public education tax dollars in the form of vouchers. In the late 1990’s Oprah Winfrey devoted one program to deal with a very public case at that time in Chicago regarding a priest finally convicted of years of molesting children. At the end of that program she announced that the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese had for years been paying an average of $9 MILLION yearly to cover up, pay off victims and families, “treatment” for the numerous local priests plus the cost of relocating them to other parishes with no accompanying warning of their sexual molest history. That was $9 MILLION 1990’s dollars; what are they paying today? What has it cost Pennsylvania thus far and are any other states studying this issue or are they part of the decades of cover-ups? With Medicare for all; that would relieve them of paying for treatment of victims and their molesters. Years ago, my ex-husband and I watched as a friend brought a local Catholic priest with her to our parties when her husband was out of town working; they sat in a corner drinking and necking. Imagine my surprise a few years later to see him on the news being honored for his many social services to the needy. Yes; it happens in other religions but is there a direct connection to the vast numbers in the Catholic church and their vows of chastity?

  25. Religion is simply a shared delusion. If a large number of people share the same delusions, we call it an institution, enable its vampiric leaders to extract money and sex from the deluded, and give it special rights and tax exemptions.

    This is nothing but the greatest con in human history. This is madness. This must be wiped from the face of the Earth.

  26. Over it; “Civilization will not attain to its perfection till the last stone has fallen from the last church on the last priest.” Emile Zola

  27. JoAnn,

    “The Warning Intelligence I am waiting for is not from the current administration but the one coming FOR them…”

    I wasn’t talking about Warning Intelligence for the Republicans; I was trying to point out the lack of Warning Intelligence from their opponents. I’m afraid no one wants to absorb what I’ve been trying to say the past few years. It’s understandable, but not acceptable to me.

  28. Marv; I was trying to lighten the mood with that comment and the Jesus quote that followed to bring the religion issue back into this blog. I understood you were referring to the true meaning of Warning Intelligence as written by Cynthia Grabo but consider this…exactly what Warning Intelligence do WE have as their opponents? Their foreign opponents are not recognized by them as being opponents any more than our once strong allies are recognized as their allies. Truths appear to fly over all of their heads as we sink deeper into the muck and mire of the Trump swamp. Many things are not acceptable to many of us today; you are not alone and we do understand much more than you give us credit for.

    By the way; a belated Happy Birthday and welcome to joining me in being 81 years old. I still find something to look forward to; only 19 more years till we can celebrate our 100th birthday, a goal to aim for.

    VOTE BLUE!!!

  29. Natacha and Terry make excellent points. All the money is lined up on one side of the equation which is why Americans are filing personal bankruptcy faster than any other country. The primary cause is healthcare costs.

    The credit card debt is choking Americans as well since we must use credit to supplement our low wages. Add to this the $1 trillion in student debt which is driving the Millennials pushing hard on the left of the DNC. This is why the DNC dropped the ban against accepting fossil fuel money. They plan to obstruct any progressive movement which offers a more democratic and fair distribution of our collective resources.

    Bloomberg was bragging about how worker productivity grew faster than 2015, yet failed to mention that productivity has been increasing exponentially. So, how have workers been rewarded? {crickets}

    All the productivity gains have gone to shareholders and CEOs. All of it.

    If anyone thinks the greedy bastards will suddenly get a moral uprising within, don’t count on it. Religion is for controlling the masses so they don’t behead the leaders who are stealing from them.

    As Sheila points out Marv, fewer people are following any sort of religion. Guess what that means?


    Americans will soon discover what the true purpose of the trillions we spend for the surveillance state…Homeland Security, NSA, CIA, FBI…and all the other private contracts we know nothing about.

    I would watch Occasio-Cortez and the Justice Dems and Democratic Socialists of America. If we cannot take back the country politically, it will get very ugly.

Comments are closed.