Health Care, Climate Change, and Christianity in the Omaha World-Herald
by Nathan Empsall, Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 12:12:23 PM EST
I'd like to draw your attention to two recent faith-based op-eds from Ben Nelson's home state, one on climate change and the other on health care. Both articles are from the Omaha World Herald, which according to Wikipedia"has for many years been the newspaper with the highest penetration rate -- the percentage of people who subscribe to the publication within the paper's home circulation area -- in the United States."
Today's World-Herald includes an op-ed by 16 Christian clergypersons from around the state calling for Congress to take action on climate change and pass clean energy legislation. The 16 authors include Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant pastors as well as the state-wide leaders of three different denominations (the Episcopal Church, the Disciples of Christ, and the United Church of Christ). An excerpt:
Environmental scholar and Methodist Bill McKibben writes that God does "not understand dominion to include thoughtless destruction for short-term gain." The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has similarly said, "At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family."...
If we are serious about seeking justice for all God's children, then we must lend our voices in support of those working to address this problem, which is already having a devastating effect upon the sinking Bangladesh Plain and the islands of the Maldives... The impacts of climate change are not limited to developing countries or the American coast. According to a recent study by the Nature Conservancy, the Midwest will warm more than any other region of the country. The resulting droughts will not be kind to Nebraska farmers or those who depend on their products for daily sustenance.
Unfortunately, Nebraska's primary energy source, coal, is the dirtiest form of energy in use today. As much as 30 percent of global warming is a result of burning coal. In addition, our insatiable appetite for coal has devastated mountaintops, increased mercury poisoning and in some areas led to elevated rates of asthma and cancer. Nebraska needs to move away from its dependence on coal and develop its potential for renewable energy sources.
Are you listening, Ben Nelson?
Similarly, on Friday the World-Herald printed an op-ed from three pastors - two Methodists and a Jesuit - urging Senator Nelson to vote for health care reform, something he has since pledged to do. (Two of the three are among the climate article's 16 authors, as is another pastor from the third's church).
As clergy and leaders within our faith traditions, we believe every person is created to live with dignity and wholeness. In today's world, this requires access to health care. Providing universal health care access is a moral and spiritual imperative...
As Nebraska faith leaders, we call for systemic change that is guided by the following principles based on our religious values. We support universal access to good-quality health care that: (1) Provides comprehensive and affordable coverage for all. (2) Eliminates health care disparities. (3) Includes effective cost containment. (4) Simplifies administration. (5) Eliminates pre-existing condition exclusions from coverage.
We turn to U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, knowing he stands with us as a person of faith. As governor, he left a lasting and important legacy of strong public insurance programs such as Kids Connection and CHIP, which provides insurance to thousands of Nebraskans who would otherwise join the uninsured.
Full disclosure: I organized the climate change op-ed myself, but the names and voices of its published authors speak for themselves. However, I had nothing to do with the health care article.