140,000 people join faith conference call

August 19, 2009

~ by Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Faithful Reform in Health Care

It’s no wonder some of you couldn’t join the conference call and webcast today with faith leaders and President Obama.  There were 140,000 of us listening!  We were expecting tens of thousands, not over 100,000!  Our friends at Faith in Public Life, who coordinated the call, said that the tech consultants were floored, having never experienced something of this magnitude.  Our response today is a powerful witness to the fact that PEOPLE OF FAITH DO CARE and that we will do whatever it takes to raise our voices with a moral vision for our health care future.

So… to all of you who got on — and all of you who tried and tried unsuccessfully — thank you for your passion!  For those of you who were frustrated by the jammed lines and webcast, please accept my apologies!  All of the 30+ co-sponsors hope you understand and celebrate with us that there was an unprecedented level of participation by people of faith who were singularly focused on the moral imperative for health care reform in those few moments.

Here is the link to listen to the call again, or for the first time.  It will be posted on the Faithful Reform in Health Care website for current and future reference.  Both a streaming recording and an MP3 format are available at this link.

As you listen you will be invited to sign a pledge to stay actively involved in the faith-based part of the health care reform movement.   Click here to sign the Faithful Reform in Health Care version of the pledge.

And then, stay-tuned for our next major effort — Health Care Sabbaths and Candlelight Vigils during the weekend of August 28-30 — a critical time to make our members of Congress hear us while they are home for their August recess!

Health and peace as we move through these important days!


“I’m really mad,” she said, and…

August 18, 2009

~ Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Faithful Reform in Health Care

“I’m really mad, and… I have to do something about it!” That’s what I heard from a voice on the other end of the phone line late Saturday afternoon. I braced myself, given the kinds of angry phone calls, letters, and such that are circulating these days, but when I realized who it was I was grateful. It was a friend, a neighbor, a band mom, and an active member of her synagogue here in Ohio.  It was someone who wants to be a part of making health care reform happen this year. It was an activist who understands that supporters cannot sit by idly while the opposition tears apart our hope for a health care future that includes everyone and works well for all of us.

Barbara is passionate about doing things that contribute to the common good.  I’ve been in her house before when she organized gatherings to help friends write letters to their elected officials.  Usually, the focus is broad to help get lots of friends there, regardless of their favorite issue.  But this time, it’s just about health care because she knows it’s that important.  She wanted talking points and phone numbers and schedules and strategies.  She recognizes that every one of us will have to take actions over and over again in the coming weeks until our voices prevail with the moral vision for health care in the U.S. So… in the next couple of weeks, she will host a letter-writing party and get letters delivered to our members of Congress before the end of the month. I’ll be there supporting her and writing my own letters.

Where will you be in the next few weeks and what will you be doing? Yes, I know it’s August, and it’s hot, and the kids are starting school, and… there are always things to get in the way of getting involved in the democratic process.  But the opposition isn’t taking a break, and neither can we. If we want reform that reflects the values of our sacred teachings, then our voices need to be heard.  I urge you to make a commitment today to take at least one action a week to help make comprehensive and compassionate reform a reality.

You can start with this week’s conference call with President Obama. Please set aside 40 minutes to join tens of thousands of people of faith who share your concern.  We’re excited that President Barack Obama and numerous faith leaders have accepted invitations to join us. The call will be Wednesday, August 19, at 5:00 pm eastern. Even if you think you’ve heard it all, join us in solidarity, to show the rest of the country that people of faith DO care, and that we won’t give up! Please RSVP to help facilitate planning and to guarantee your place on the call.  In addition, circulate the information broadly via email, FaceBook, Twitter, fliers and word of mouth to get the word out. Visit the Faithful Reform in Health Care website for more information and to RSVP.

And then… begin thinking about your next action:

* A letter-writing party in your home or in your community of faith.
* A visit to the district offices of your members of Congress or participation in a Town Hall meeting.
* A Candlelight Vigil or Prayer Service in your community or congregation. ToolKit
* A Health Care Sabbath during the weekend of August 28-30.
* A phone call campaign using our toll-free number 1-888-797-8717. Flier and talking points

Voices of faith are needed now more than ever!

It’s not just about the President!

August 17, 2009

~ Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Faithful Reform in Health Care

YES!  We’re definitely excited that President Barack Obama has accepted an invitation to join tens of thousands of people of faith on a nationwide conference call on Wednesday, August 19, at 5:00 pm eastern. Afterall, this is an historic opportunity: never before has a President addressed such a large gathering of the faith community so directly and specifically on the issue of health care reform.

But it’s not just about the President.  It’s also about US — the 30-40-50 thousand or more people of faith who will take 40 minutes from our busy lives to focus together on a moral vision for how we provide health care in the U.S.  It’s about demonstrating that even though we may not agree on policy, we agree that our shared faith values should be at the heart of public discourse.  If we hit 47,000 callers, it’s a very symbolic expression of our concern for the 47 million people who go without needed health care because they are uninsured. It’s about making a commitment to speak truth to power until our health care future includes everyone and works well for all of us!

Because tens of thousands of participants are expected, you are urged to RSVP to help facilitate planning and to guarantee your place on the call.  In addition, we invite you to tell your family, friends, and colleagues; to spread the word through your email networks; and to invite others to listen to the call with you.  Please help us make this event even more historic than it already is!  Print a half-page flier to distribute at your faith gatherings this this weekend!

RSVP to receive your call-in information and to submit a question.

List of conference call sponsors (as of 8.16.09)

(Faithful Reform in Health Care coalition members noted in bold)

African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)
American Muslim Health Professionals
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Catholics United
Christian Community Development Association
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Disciples Justice Action Network
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Faithful America
Faithful Reform in Health Care
Faith in Public Life
Gamaliel Foundation
Islamic Medical Association of North America
Islamic Society of North America
Jewish Women International
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
National Council of Churches in Christ
National Council of Jewish Women
Network, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
PICO National Network
Presbyterian Church USA, Washington Office
Progressive National Baptist Convention
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference
Sisters of Mercy of The Americas
The Episcopal Church
The Latino Leadership Circle
The New Evangelicals
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ
United Methodist Church General Board of Church And Society
United Methodist Church, Washington Office of Women’s Division, General Board of Global Ministries

RSVP to receive your call-in information and to submit a question.

Fear, Facts and Faith

August 17, 2009

~ Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Faithful Reform in Health Care

Fear works. The opposition knows it.  And they are using it to their advantage.  Just a few short weeks ago our fear was the cost of doing nothing – in terms of both human suffering and economic peril. We were moving along a path toward health care reform legislation that wasn’t perfect but would improve health care for all of us.  Sure, there were some hurdles to be overcome, but an overwhelming majority of the American public was still on board.  The powerful and wealthy industry stakeholders who have the most to lose in terms of profits and control have responded to that level of support by promoting lies, distortions and disruptions to elicit fear about what is really in the proposed legislation.  Let us be clear — our greatest fear must remain over the cost of doing nothing, and now of those who seek to destroy legitimate civil discourse and the democratic process.

Facts work – for some. Thankfully, the folks who know the legislation inside and out are producing the fact sheets to help us understand the proposals. They are making available to us the truth and the intent behind the provisions that are being twisted for diabolical purposes. But we must remember that facts don’t matter to many of those who are easily swayed by fear-mongering tactics.  Very simply, we can’t argue our way out of this with the facts.  But… for those who WILL listen, we can use the facts to develop a better understanding of the proposals, to answer our legitimate questions and to bolster our efforts in pushing our elected leaders to do the right thing.  Go to PolitiFact.com for help with sorting out the truth!  To read how one clergy colleague responds to all of this with faith values read:

Talk-Show Falsehoods: Hysteria masks value of Page 425

Health-care rationing vs. abundance – The truth shall set us free

Faith works — when we try! For people of faith who care about this issue, we need to understand that our voices are needed more than ever to create a health care future that includes everyone and works well for all of us.  The members of Congress on Wednesday’s conference call told us quite frankly that the voices of faith are not being heard over the fray of the powerful and wealthy self-interests and their high paid lobbyists. The voices of moral persuasion and compassion are NOT what our elected leaders are hearing.  We can change that… one by one until millions of us pick up our phones and pens, raise our voices in town hall meetings, and hold our candles high in vigils to demand comprehensive health care reform this year.

There are more of us than “them,” but that won’t be obvious until everyone one of us makes a commitment to take at least one action (or more!) EVERY week until health care reform is passed — and urge others in our communities of faith to join us!  Cultural transformation is up to us! And we are at our best when that is at the heart of our work.

Make phone calls TODAY to your Senators and Representative using our toll free number: 1-888-797-8717. Urge them to ignore the lies and to make their decisions based on the truth. View talking points and print a flier to invite others to make calls, too.  Put this number on your speed-dial and use it often!

Send hand-written letters to the home offices of your Senators and Representatives while they are home on their August recess.  Better yet, set up a table at a gathering of your faith community this weekend and ask others to join you in writing letters! Find the addresses of the district offices. View a sample letter.

Plan a Let Our Light Shine event with others in your community during August.

Sign A Faith-Inspired Vision for Health Care” if you have not already done so, and urge others in your faith community join you.  It will be delivered to all members of Congress soon after they return to Washington in September.

Let Our Light Shine and Let Our Voices Be Heard!