Throughout the course of human history, there are times when a nation and its people must speak to moral imperatives — to speak clearly to what is faithful to our American ideals, what is compassionate toward our people and what is right for our country.
As spiritual leaders of diverse religious background and with one voice, we the undersigned appeal to our elected representatives, our President, and elected officials of the State of Indiana to provide affordable and accessible health care for all Americans.
In our nation’s infancy we identified the struggle for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as core ideals for this country. The founding fathers and mothers of our young nation couldn’t imagine accessible health care as a right in the way we may perceive health care as a right today, but they did advocate for life as a right of all Americans.
The struggle for life requires access to the systems and services designed to provide for and promote healthy living.
In addition to our struggle for life, our founding mothers and fathers recognized that the citizens of this new nation should have the freedom to pursue some level of happiness. In part, we have associated the pursuit of happiness with healthy children. In order for our children to be healthy and happy, we have a moral responsibility to provide affordable and accessible health care for all.
Therefore, we believe that affordable and accessible health care is faithful to our American ideals.
In addition, we are called by our various traditions to be people of compassion. Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy, sacrifice and sorrow for another accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering of the other.
Although our various traditions differ in our rules, our doctrines or our forms of spiritual discipline, we remain united in compassion for all people. In some form or another each of our traditions honor the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Therefore, we believe that health care for all is a matter of compassion; it is a matter of social conscience, and it is consistent with the Golden Rule that defines our various expressions of faith.
As such, we believe that accessible and affordable health care for all Americans embodies our best religious intentions.
In his book, “The Healing of America,” T.R. Reid observes that the average life expectancy in the developed world is 82 years, but the average life expectancy within the United States is more than four years less, ranking this country 47th in life expectancy in the world.
In a Satisfaction Survey done in 2001 with 15 European countries, the U.S. and Canada by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States ranked 14 out of 17 in citizens’ satisfaction with their health care.
Reid cites that the USA ranks 22nd in infant mortality in the world. However, the United States leads all other nations in one area: The cost of health care for its citizens. Japan, whose population is considerably older than the U.S., spent $3,000 per person on health care while in the U.S., we spend $7,000 per person on health care. In addition, 46 million Americans are currently uninsured with many more underinsured.
Such statistics betray our fundamental human values and offend our religious sensibilities. They dishonor the American people and the ideals of our founding fathers and mothers who believed in an undying loyalty and sacrifice to our right for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Therefore, we believe that accessible and affordable health care for all Americans is right for our country.
It is faithful to the American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is compassionate and faithful to our religious practices.
It is in this context that we affirm our unity and request that our elected officials and public leaders of our nation and in the State of Indiana urgently address health care reform for all Americans.
Contributors: Rev. Dr. Deane Olive, Unitarian Universalist Church of Evansville; Rev. Dr. Shane O’Neill, Presbyterian (Retired); Mary MacGregor, Mindful Heart Buddhist Sangha; Rev. Joseph N. Easley; Rev. Charles R. Gipson, director, Willow Pond Retreat; Sara Anne Corrigan, writer; Rabbi Helen Bar-Yaacov, Temple Adath B’nai Israel; Rev. Dr. David M. Brookman, Presbyterian (Retired); Rev. Daniel R. Sather, United Church of Christ; Maqbool Ahmed; Michael Erwin Jr.; Rev. Robert Walker.