Christians Sponsor "Cover the Uninsured Week"

( [email protected] ) Apr 30, 2004 04:25 PM EDT

WASHINGTON – Christian community is bringing in interfaith efforts to provide health insurance to the needy families across the U.S. Leaders from the National Council of Churches, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Islamic Society of North America, and other religious organizations including the Catholics and Jews, have come together to sponsor “Cover the Uninsured Week 2004” May 10-16.

About 1,251 events will be taking place across the nation to raise awareness about the plight of the uninsured. On top of hundreds of national and local community organizations, several different religious and charitable groups organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the members of National Interfaith Advisory Board will sponsor the event.

According to National Interfaith Advisory Board, about 44 million Americans, 8.5 million of them children, don’t have health insurance. 44 million comprises 15 percent of the population of the U.S. It has been also reported that more than 80 percent of the uninsured are from the working families.

Eileen Lindner, the advisory board's chairperson and NCC deputy secretary, explained that the group’s primary role in the event is “"to help encourage and enliven our religious communities."

"I think the very ability to put together such an extensive religious and interfaith coalition is a testament to the high moral stakes of this issue," she said.

Lindner further emphasized that although many of the religious groups share different values in extending health insurance, it is crucial to encourage religious groups to improve health care at the local level.

"Our task… is to call the churches, mosques, temples back to the vocation of raising up this issue," Lindner said. "We are diminished as a society when we have such a large population lacking in health care. They are denied their liberties not only as children of God, but their liberties as Americans."

Elaine Arkin, a consultant with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said this is the second time to launch such campaign with the help of faith groups. "We have asked the faith community to join us in this Cover the Uninsured venture…because in addition to physical and financial consequences, [being uninsured] has moral and ethical dimensions," she said.

In order to gain more attention on the issue of health insurance crisis, the sponsors of the event are offering resources through sermon notes and church newsletters, giving reasons to why it is important to concern about the uninsured. Church members are encouraged to join in prayer for the uninsured, reach out to the uninsured, or to volunteer at the event.

For more information about the event, go to: