Last month I was invited by the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Healthcare to submit a reflection for a new publication they are preparing. I was asked how faith leaders can access and wield the power of their faith in this urgent fight for healthcare. Here is what I submitted to them:
The issue of healthcare in our state, and in our country, is a crucial one for people of faith. This statement underlies why I am involved in the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Healthcare. As a Unitarian Universalist, I can not stand by and let healthcare inequalities and disparities continue. We have a human right (and I would also say a divine right) to maintain healthy bodies. So I draw upon my faith and use it in this fight for universal healthcare.
It is important to be grounded in my faith for this work. That means that I study what faith says about healthcare, pray and meditate about the issues, and build a faith platfrom from which I work. It is great that I believe in universal healthcare, but as a faith leader, if I cannot speak from a faith perspective, I am speaking as a person, not as a faith leader.
As I look through religious scriptures, I find several references to the body as a temple or holy. So it is faith work to maintain the temples of our bodies, and healthcare is a large part of that maintenance. And healthcare is a large part of how we do that maintenance work. So when people have limited or no access to healthcare, for me, it is a faith issue. People should be allowed to live into the fullness of their holiness. Not allowing them to do so infringes on their divine rights.
I also look at healthcare as a human right. Two of the guiding principles of Unitarian Universalism are “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and “justice, equity, and compasion in human relations.” These principles guide me on how I live my faith in the world. Universal healthcare eliminates the injustice and inequities that are found in the current healthcare system. Working with the Interfaith Felowship has been a way for me to live into this Unitarian Universalist principle.
I enter this work grounded in a belief in the holiness of the body, and in a spiritual calling for justice and equity. I identify the tools and gifts with which I can use in the universal healthcare campaign. As a minister, I have the access to a pulpit and a committed congregation. I also have the ability to be present and to witness. This is what I bring to bear to the fight for healthcare.
I have preached on the issue of healthcare and its disparities. I have hosted discussions and conversations about the issues. I have helped congregation members get involved. I have participated in conversations with elected officials and witness events. And in all of these things, I allowed my faith to inform my thoughts and actions.
Interacting with the other faith leaders has exposed me to other ideals and ways of action, which have informed and strengthened my own. It is this diversity that will bring change to the state of Connecticut on the issue of healthcare.