A coalition of progressively minded faith-based groups is waging a campaign to support health care reform (which launched in May), and it's put out a series of new ads that will air on Christian radio today through July 4, targeting senators in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Nebraska, and North Carolina--states belonging loosely to the Bible belt whose moderate senators often cast swing votes in the upper chamber--as they return home for Congress's July 4 recess.
The faith-based angle on health care, for this coalition, differs notably from the talking points offered by President Obama and reform opponents in Washington, who have stuck mostly to talking about costs: Obama has sought to hammer in the point that national health care costs are unsustainable, while strategy memos on both the Democratic and Republican sides this month have advised, based on polling data, that talking about costs and government spending resonates most thoroughly with the public.
The Faithful America coalition, however, focuses on access. The ads, each narrated by a pastor from the target state, cite a verse from Isaiah: "No more shall there be an infant who lives but a few days, nor an old person who does not live a full lifetime." It's an ethical argument, not a fiscal one.
For the Christian audience, the coalition says, it's better to talk about individuals than about broad, systemic problems and national sustainability. "Faith communities are really focused on people," spokeswoman Kristin Williams said. "The message about the sustainability of our financial system is not as resonant from a moral perspective...It resonates that people are being barred access because of those costs."