August 11, 2009
By Ed Stoddard
DALLAS, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Liberal religious groups announced on Monday they are teaming up with President Barack Obama in a national campaign to counter the surprisingly vehement conservative opposition to his plan for overhaul of the U.S. healthcare industry this year.
Organized by liberal-leaning evangelicals, some mainline Protestant clergy, and some Catholic groups, it will include Obama participating in a call-in program with religious leaders streamed on the Internet on Aug. 19, prayer meetings and nationwide television ads.
"As a pastor I believe access to healthcare is a profoundly moral issue," Rev. Stevie Wakes of Olivet Institutional Baptist in Kansas City, said in a news teleconference announcing the "40 days for Health Reform" campaign.
Protestors have confronted members of Congress across the country in town hall meetings held to take the public pulse on the various healthcare overhaul plans being written in Congress.
What lawmakers found was anger fueled in part by Christian and conservative radio that healthcare would lead to taxpayer funded abortion and even euthanasia for the old, have incited much of the loudest and most dramatic reaction. . .
Analysts say it remains to be seen if it will pay off with some political dividends at this crucial juncture for the healthcare plan. Lawmakers have said they are working to pass the legislation this year to avoid embroiling healthcare reform in next year's congressional election politics.
"I think that the Democrats were surprised by the strength of the religious right and the insurance companies and those opposed to healthcare reform when they got their grass roots efforts going," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"So it took awhile for the Religious Left to get their national campaign going and we'll see whether or not it has the same emotion and intensity," he said.
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