A group of Episcopal bishops plan to travel to Washington, D.C., the week of September 14 to lobby on Capitol Hill in support of health-care reform.
The group, "Bishops Working for a Just World," seeks universal heath-care coverage and solutions to domestic and global poverty and the environmental crisis. Bishops make annual trips to the nation's capital to advocate for specific legislation or changes to legislation.
"The issues that we lobby are the issues voted on by General Convention," said Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith.
The Office of Government Relations (OGR), based in Washington, D.C., organized the trip and prepared the bishops for meetings with elected officials and administrators. Created by Executive Council in 1979, OGR's mandate is to lobby Congress and the president in response to legislation passed at General Convention.
July's General Convention passed several health-care-related resolutions (C071, D048 and D088) in support of universal access to quality and affordable health care in the United States and called on Congress to pass comprehensive health-care reform this year. Resolution D048 urged passage of federal legislation establishing a "single payer" universal health care program.
Both the House and Senate broke for summer recess without voting on a bill. Legislators were scheduled to return to Washington after Labor Day.
The passionate, often angry and vitriolic, protests that have characterized the health care debate nationwide have also played out online, including on the Episcopal Church's Facebook page and in Episcopal Life Online's Reader Response section, with largely negative comments outnumbering those supporting the church's stance favoring reform.
Some Episcopalians have expressed indignation at the church for meddling in government affairs, evoking the First Amendment's separation of church and state.