In the fight to preserve health care, we have to lay our bodies on the line

WASHINGTON (RNS) —When Capitol police drew my hands behind my back and took me into custody for protesting Sen. Mitch McConnell’s now-failed health care bill on Capitol grounds, I was certain my arrest, and that of the 10 other clergy and activists who stood beside me, was necessary.

In the fight to ensure that more than 20 million Americans don’t lose the lifesaving care they so desperately need, people of faith have to be willing to lay their bodies on the line.

Moral leaders from coast to coast are taking extraordinary means to ensure that Congress does not repeal the Affordable Care Act entirely and delay implementation of a new, yet-to-be-drafted law, the so-called “repeal-and-delay” strategy.

A half-mile-long column of civil rights demonstrators — including many clergy — crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. Religion News Service archive photo

Nonviolent civil disobedience was used during the civil rights movement of the 1960s to usher in a new era of justice for African-Americans who had been too long denied. Nonviolent disruptors such as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Diane Nash, Ella Baker and Ralph Abernathy literally demanded to be heard.

We know that civil disobedience is not just an organizing tactic from a bygone era. It is our prophetic duty.

After last week’s arrest for “crowding, obstructing or incommoding,” according to Capitol Hill Police, I was reminded of four things that I must do as a person of faith:

1. I cannot sit in a pew on Sunday morning only to forget that Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”

As a white woman with health insurance, I could hide behind the law, the pulpit or my desk and do advocacy as usual. But I refuse. It is time to start agitating. Our democracy is failing when it allows a death bill to move forward unwanted by the majority of American people, paid for by corporate lobbyists and rammed through without debate and without dialogue.

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