This is inconvenient, for a lady who claims to be a stalwart Catholic, familiar with Catholic doctrine, who also often finds herself out of step with traditional teachings on life or other cultural issues.
But in this episode, in San Fran Nan’s zeal to attack the Republicans’ alternative plan to Obamacare that passed the house, and her rush to defend Obamacare — Affordable Healthcare Act — she really muddies the water on religion and politics.
Pelosi made her remarks at her press conference shortly after the passing of the latest Obamacare alternative in the House. But it was a repeated lie she had already used against the former Republican bill, which was pulled and did not get passed.
She rattles off a list of organizations opposed to the Republican plan (many of which originally supported Obamacare) She then lists churches or faith-based institutions along with the United Methodist Church.
First let’s start with the previous bill, on 3/09/17, at her press conference, Pelosi said:
So again, on three fronts, of course, the Affordable Care Act and all that it means to families is very important. The United Methodist Church, in their statement, said people will die because of efforts like this to roll back health care. AARP, the American Medical Association, the hospital association, nurses and physicians, patients, insurers, and consumer groups all oppose the GOP bill.
Again, last week on 5/4/17 Pelosi says: (at an open press conference)
“Sister Simone Campbell said, ‘this is not the faithful way forward and must be rejected.’ The Catholic Health Association wrote, ‘we strongly encourage the full house to reject this replacement bill.’ And the United Methodist Church said, ‘opposing Trumpcare, this is what they said, people will die because of efforts like this to roll back health care.’
Lutheran services of America said, ‘Trumpcare will jeopardize the health care and long-term service and support of millions of Americans.’ The Episcopal Church said, ‘Trumpcare falls woefully short of our spiritual calling to care for the least of these, as well as the noble values upon which our great nation was founded.’ End of quote. And all that was said before the Republicans decided to destroy the protections of Americans with pre-existing conditions. — [Pelosi- press conference on 5/4/17]
Below is apparently the UMC statement from the article Pelosi was referring to:
Note the author says she is the General Secretary [excerpt]
The General Secretary’s statement on Congressional Efforts to rollback health care
by Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe on March 07, 2017
“We must not allow our leaders to take away affordable and accessible health care from the communities who need it to live and live abundantly.
This bill has been promoted as a “fix” to the health care system in the United States but will do nothing to improve access and affordability. Instead, it will harm many in the congregations and communities in which we live and serve. People will die because of efforts like this to roll back health care.”
That is basically marked as the General Secretary’s personal statement. How could it be conferred as the statement from the national conference board of the UMC? It s one member’s personal position, though it is posted on the GBCS.org website.
It was one member of the UMC church, as influential as she may be. It does not speak for the entire church itself, as Pelosi suggested. No, she insisted on two separate occasions that it was a statement on behalf of the United Methodist Church.
Dr. Henry-Crowe stated in conclusion: (note the pronoun I)
“I will be calling my members of Congress to urge them to vote no on the bill, and I encourage United Methodists in the United States to join me in advocating for a health care system that leaves no person behind.”
She encourages other members to take that action……on behalf of herself, as the Secretary. But she does not speak for the entire church. Again, she has it posted on the GBCS website. Henry-Crowe, not a medical doctor, also offers no proof for the claim that “people will die”.
Another UM news outlet disected Pelosi’s dilemma: [excerpt]
Good News – Walter Fenton- [*GBCS is General Board & Church Society]
“We were confident no such [“people wiill die”] statement existed. The UM Church, thankfully, does not make a habit of pontificating on every bill that comes before Congress. Only the General Conference, which meets every four years, can pronounce authoritatively for the UM Church. What we suspected was that Rep. Pelosi had read something a UM bishop or the General Secretary of GBCS had said about the bill. And sure enough, Henry-Crowe had recently opined, “People will die because of efforts like this to roll back health care.” Pelosi gladly took Henry-Crowe’s personal prognostication that “people will die,” as the UM Church’s official word on the bill. It is not.
Henry-Crowe, who holds two degrees in theological studies, and for 22 years served as the dean of the chapel and religious life at Emory University before her role at GBCS, offered no evidence to support her hyperbolic claim. Her remark is particularly interesting in light of a recent column by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. To be sure, like Henry-Crowe, Douthat is not a health care expert. But unlike her, he actually references reputable studies that find claims about how many lives this or that insurance plan will save to be overblown. As Douthat notes, since the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, Americans have not become healthier or experienced lower mortality rates (they’re actually higher in some of the states and counties where Medicaid was expanded).
It is hard to understand why, in a church with rank-and-file members from across the political spectrum, GBCS has felt compelled to march almost uniformly to the left on most issues. And it often seems incapable of even acknowledging people of good faith and good will might find alternative prescriptions to be reasonable, responsible, and compassionate. GBCS has a propensity to close off options and stifle conversation before it gets started. So if you don’t stand with Henry-Crowe and GBCS on the recent bill before Congress, you’re evidently comfortable with a plan that will allow “people [to] die. (read full article here) ”
Listen to two more excerpts in the same article which make the point:
“GBCS [General Board] seems to have no dialogue partners in a church that desperately needs them.”
“This is odd and even unhelpful coming from an organization appointed to serve and represent the whole church, not just its left wing.”
“Progressives often style themselves as community organizers for social justice, but you seldom get the impression that GBCS folks are actually out organizing among the grassroots. Instead, they are more often found provoking laity and pastors with progressive pronouncements issued from their Capitol Hill offices in Washington D.C.”
“In the future, we hope Henry-Crowe can find the good in other proposals and refrain from conversation stoppers like, “people will die.”
So, in the end, Pelosi was duped or lied. Though she should have at least looked at the statement — it is not a UMC dicta. Maybe other Methodists were even hoodwinked by Pelosi’s careless public assertion about a specious commentary, coming from one member who happens to be a Secretary.
Though if Pelosi is going to go out and make a proclamation representing an entire organization, or church, she should have confirmed it first.
It’s also interesting in light of President Trump’s executive order over the Johnson Amendment. For years, there have been threats to churches about taking part in politics, yet, as the author above states, some members freely associate the church with left-wing politics on current issues. That political activism is celebrated, just as this was by Pelosi, as a formal church position on progressive, liberal political issues. That is no problem at all.
Funny how whenever it is abortion or other cultural, traditional issues then people claim it is over the line, off bounds for the church. There are plenty of examples.
When churches or clergy sign a petition to Congress to investigate aid to Israel, no problem with that lobbying. But there is never any dialogue, criticism of left wing positions the UMC adopts…. even taking advocacy positions on sanctuary cities or sanctuary status for UM churches — I’ll call them Sanctuary Sanctuaries. No harm or foul in that.