On Thursday, clergy members from across faiths and communities marched on Capitol Hill to protest the Republican healthcare plan.
Lead by the Rev. William Barber, the faith leaders gathered outside the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, where one after another, they excoriated the GOP for a proposed bill that would see some 22 million people left without insurance in years to come.
But it was Reverend Traci Blackmon, of Florissant, MO, who offered the fiercest condemnation of the Republicans’ plan.
“Health coverage is a righteous issue,” Blackmon declared.
“We are threatened because we worship on the alter of the almighty dollar, more than we care about human lives,” Blackmon continued. “We are threatened because we care about the profit of a few over the care of many.”
But Blackmon, who also serves as the Acting Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries for The United Church of Christ, saved her harshest words for Senator McConnell himself:
You may be okay. Your friends may be okay. But the people who put you in office will suffer because of this bill...It is time to stop calling God by other names when you really want to call God “capitalism.” It is time to stop cloaking your greed in religious language. I’m here to tell you that there ain’t nothing right about the religion that’s happening in these halls. This should be where we come for help. And yet we are coming, crying out on behalf of the people to stop some of the most egregious legislation that we have seen in a long time.
If you can turn your backs on 22 [million] additional people, don’t tell me that you are pro life. If you can turn your backs on people who are suffering from conditions that will no longer be able to be treated, don’t tell me you are pro life.
Vox’s Jeff Stein captured the stirring comments:
Blackmon’s speech came on the same day as a new draft of the GOP’s proposed healthcare bill was unveiled to the press. It showed that, barring several cosmetic changes, the Republicans were still pushing a version of the same, wildly unpopular legislation as several weeks ago.
Thursday’s clergy march ended with police officers arresting and removing many of the assembled religious leaders.
Sen. McConnell has reportedly said he hopes to take up the GOP’s revised bill at some point next week.