From AAPD (11.18.2011):
When we honor and treat all people with dignity and respect across faith lines, we are a powerful force. –David Feinman, Senior Legislative Associate, the Jewish Federations of North America
As advocates and activists, we often frame our civil rights agenda as a set of policy goals to achieve or specific bills to pass. People often tell me that they don’t get involved in promoting civil rights laws because they feel like the conversation involves topics that they don’t have time to learn about during their busy, full lives. That’s especially true for large, complex programs like Medicaid, a program that serves millions of people with disabilities.
While Medicaid and programs like it might be complicated, the justification for them is not. We promote this vital program because it is consistent with our values. Opportunity. Fairness. Justice. Treating our neighbors as we treat ourselves. Our leaders need to be reminded that if our core values are not driving their decision making, they aren’t really representing us.
Many Americans’ values are rooted in their faith practices and traditions. It’s essential for faith voices to influence the conversation about Medicaid and other civil rights matters. That’s why we held a web chat on November 10 along with United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), and the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC). The web chat featured representatives from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths along with AAPD and UCP staff members.
The web chat created an intimate conversation that reached across the country. We received questions from Montana, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and California, to name a few. You can see the transcript at:
Participants from interfaith coalition wrote eloquently about the connection between values and policy. Maggie Siddiqui of the Islamic Society of North America observed: “we all have a religious or moral responsibility to serve those in our communities who need our help the most, and our country should reflect those values.”
Participants brought their own strong voices to the conversation. Linda Starnes of Florida sent this powerful statement:
"We ask that the President, Congress, and our state governments look to other means of creating a fiscally sound country, and to not cut funding from Medicaid. Medicaid provides a lifeline to so many of our most vulnerable citizens. For as we are reminded within the parable of Matthew 25, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.'"
The deadline for a deficit reduction plan is next week. We need to follow Linda’s eloquent example and speak our minds—and our values—to the elected leaders who will make decisions about Medicaid’s future.