MISSOURI FAITH LEADERS RALLY IN THE CAPITOL, 23 ARRESTED

STATEWIDE FAITH LEADERS RALLY IN THE CAPITOL, 23 ARRESTED

Alarmed and outraged by lawmakers continued refusal to prioritize Medicaid expansion and other issues of human dignity in the legislature, hundreds of clergy and faith leaders from across Missouri joined together to challenge the growing and dangerous chasm between policy priorities and the wellbeing of the people of the state.

 

Peacefully interrupting the morning session of the State Senate with a prayer and a song (“I Need You to Survive”), prominent clergy from across the state called on elected officials to exercise moral leadership and address solutions that would help those most in need. 23 were removed by security and arrested, including 74 year-old Rev. John Bennet and Wallace Hartsfield, Sr.. As they left peaceably, they were arrested onsite and released.

 

Their top goal is to make human dignity as a watchword in Missouri politics, asking legislators to put ideology and partisanship aside and conduct a simple test: "Does this measure threaten or enhance the dignity of everyday Missourians?"

 

Missouri is the only state in the country with no limits on lobbying or campaign contributions. Clergy are alarmed at the culture that has created, as big donors and narrow ideologies get undue attention while the needs of everyday Missourians are casually dismissed.

 

The legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid to provide coverage to as many as 300,000 Missourians is a striking example of its skewed priorities.  Every year, as many as 700 Missourians will die for want of expansion, a loss that clergy contend is too great to bear.  

 

The faith community has seen a significant response from Missouri's elected officials in previous events inside and outside of the Capitol over the past few months, but certain lawmakers are stubbornly refusing to allow a vote.

 

At an earlier rally attended by a crowd of more than 300, faith leaders denounced the behavior of the legislature and called for a renewed emphasis on human dignity. Key topics included Medicaid expansion, addressing poverty wages, ending the abuses of predatory lending, and safeguarding a democracy where everyone has a voice.

 

The clergy coalition will remain united and actively involved in the days ahead, and beyond.

 

QUOTES:

 

"Missouri lawmakers need a wake-up call. This is not about politics -- this is about human life. Until they do their job and pass Medicaid expansion, 700 Missourians will die each year and hundreds of thousands will live with untreated illness and in financial fear. This is a moral issue."
Rev. Dr. John Bennett, Jefferson City, MO

 

"The moment the Missouri legislature passed a bill calling for yet another Kansas-style tax giveaway to millionaires is the moment they forfeited the economic argument. Medicaid expansion is economically smart and morally right. End of story."
Rev. Susan McCann, Liberty, MO

 

CONTEXT:
• This event comes as the latest of a series of events around the state organized by clergy alarmed by the effects of policy choices on the people in their pews.
• This gathering is a continuation of a broader faith movement in Missouri, coming in the wake of 9 major faith events in the past few months,: the founding convention of Faith Voices for Jefferson City attended by over 350 people with a keynote by Bishop John Gaydos, a Northland Faith Voices action for Economic Dignity in Liberty attended by nearly 300 including Gov. Jay Nixon, the 2014 Convocation of Communities Creating Opportunity in Kansas City, last month's gathering of African American clergy in Jefferson City, the 2014 Faith & Families Summit, the founding convention of Faith Voices of Columbia, and the founding convention of Springfield Faith Voices attended by 300 people with a keynote by Bishop Emeritus John Leibrecht and comments by Gov. Nixon.