Health Care, Climate Change, and Christianity in the Omaha World-Herald

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.

Tags: Ben Nelson, christianity, Climate change, Environment, faith and politics, Health care, Nebraska, Omaha (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

To all the nays:

RedState needs your help:

"
Extraordinary Measures Needed to Kill the Bill

There are some atmospheric conditions that will help this plan work. For example, both sides of the net roots should cease fire on posts against each other. There must be a truce until the bill is dead. The target is the bill, not each other.

"

Go and join your brothers-in-arms.

by vecky 2009-12-20 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

fine, we can just as easily tell you to go join Leiberman and Nelson and the Insurance Industry

But is this really the rhetoric you want to embrace?

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

Well go ahead. On the rhetoric level it'll be pretty tame. I've already noticed commentators on so called "progressive blogs" referring to Barack Obama as Barry, something previously reserved only for the nuttiest tea-baggers.

by vecky 2009-12-20 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

let me get this straight. You are in favor of the bribery of Ben Nelson, in favor of the regressive Cadillac tax instead of one on individuals, and supportive of anti-abortion restrictions on women, and in favor of a privatized mandate?

Wow, you've really got a stand of principle there vecky.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 12:33PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

I hate Ben Nelson, I hate Joe Lieberman, and I hate Stupak. Particularly Stupak...

by vecky 2009-12-20 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

To my understanding, the abortion restrictions aren't much different than current law. (For the record, I am pro-life, but that's something I neither blog about nor consider when supporting candidates, so it really has no effect on my health care views).

As for the rest of all that, we don't get to consider this bill in a vacuum. Rather than considering its downsides on their own, we have to consider them vis-a-vis the downsides of the status quo. As bad as this bill is, I think continuing with 44 million uninsured and a higher deficit is worse than having 14 million uninsured and a slightly lower deficit with a ban on refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions. The difference between those two scenarios is worth an insurance industry sweetner for me. I love Howard Dean, but right now I'm with Bill Clinton and Vicky Kennedy.

One final note - did you see Tom Harkin's remarks on the "bribery of Ben Nelson"? He's hopeful that it will spread to the other 49 states:

The federal government is paying for the entire Medicaid expansion through 2017 for every state.

"In 2017, as you know, when we have to start phasing back from 100 percent, and going down to 98 percent, they are going to say, 'Wait, there is one state that stays at 100?' And every governor in the country is going to say, 'Why doesn't our state stay there?'" Harkin said. "When you look at it, I thought well, god, good, it is going to be the impetus for all the states to stay at 100 percent. So he might have done all of us a favor."

At some point in the next few days, I'm hoping to write a post about the split in the Democratic base over this - not a critical post so much as one just looking at where the divide falls, sort of expanding on your comment the other day about the progressive populists and the progressive pragmatics.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-12-20 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

I know, that point of Harkin's is the irony of the bribe. I blogged about that aspect while mentioning that its gov't run healthcare. Quite the precedent.

Look, I have never said to end HCR. But, I think you have to be honest about the reality that this is a failed first step. Its a foul ball at best.

The best argument in favor of the Senate HCR bill is that it sets up the infrastructure, with the exchange and with the mandate, for ultimately coming back to it (after the electoral carnage and the continued cost explosion b/c of non-adoption of the projected results) with a public necessity.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-12-20 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

"it sets up the infrastructure, with the exchange and with the mandate, for ultimately coming back to it (after the electoral carnage and the continued cost explosion b/c of non-adoption of the projected results) with a public necessity."

And I do think that that's exactly what will happen. I don't know how long it will take - look how long this is happening after Medicare - but I think that's where we're ultimately headed. Progress is the root word of progressive, but progress is a series of steps, not one big bound. I disagree that this is a foul ball - I think it's more like a single - but even if it is a foul ball, perhaps it's a long fly to foul territory in the outfield, caught by the outfielder and allowing either a sacrifice RBI or a stolen base after the catch, and sometimes it's that kind of small ball you need to win the game, especially in the postseason. (Was that too John Robertsy?)

by Nathan Empsall 2009-12-20 01:03PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

Eventually we're going to end up with Single-payer, or some sort of Dutch/Swiss system.

Everyone knows that except the GOP and 5-6 conservative Dem senators.

by vecky 2009-12-20 01:08PM | 0 recs
not a chance

There is absolutely no way the exchange as set up by this bill could ever transition to single-payer, nor is there any way our bought-and paid-for Congress would ever enact single-payer.

by desmoinesdem 2009-12-20 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

The difference between Erick Erickson and myself is that he will never call out the corruption in his own party but I will call out the corruption in mine.

Corporations will shift their dollars that grease the system to the GOP if they sense a Republican ascendancy. Until we break corporate power, we are condemned to suffer a legislative regime that serves their interests, not ours.

We need to break this cycle.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 02:36PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

Hey, while were doing that minor chore we might just as well end world poverty and war. And ponies for everyone!

Real ones!

by QTG 2009-12-20 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

If you don't start down this road today, when will you start it?

When the country is bankrupt? When our living standards fall increasingly behind other industrial societies? When we suddenly find that our legislation is written by corporate lobbyists? When the shuffle between the halls of government and K- Street is but a revolving door?

Correct me if I am wrong but all of the above save the first is already true.

by Charles Lemos 2009-12-20 04:04PM | 0 recs
Re: To all the nays:

 I don't disagree with the goal of a perfect society, and I do what I reasonably can to help. And I try to keep a sense of humor in light of the infinitesimal chance I'll ever live to see much real progress on a large scale, and the absolute reality that I can change very little outside of my immediate circle of family, friends, and neighbors.

by QTG 2009-12-21 05:10AM | 0 recs
wow

There are reports that OFA (Organizing For America, from BarakObama.com)) is now organizing Nebraskans to call Sen. Nelson to THANK him:

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2009/12 /19/22229/047/1121#c1121

if true, that is ridiculous. I would like some more evidence that this is happening though, before I completely believe it.

by jeopardy 2009-12-20 02:10PM | 0 recs

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