Contact: Jeff Walton 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org
“In its enthusiastic lobbying for ‘Obamacare,’ including abortion coverage, the United Methodist lobby apparently failed to notice serious threats to our own pastors’ health care.”
-UMAction Director John Lomperis
Washington, DC—Pension boards of some oldline Protestant denominations are now seeking protection from the very health care law their own denominational lobby offices worked to pass. The move comes following revelations that some church employees may lose health care coverage due to provisions in Obamacare passed amidst “confusion and political drama.”
The United Methodist General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (GBPHB) has released a statement calling for Congressional action and noting an impending loss of coverage for both clergy and church lay employees. Church health care plans cover over one million ministers and church employees.
The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, the Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations, and other oldine Protestant offices lobbied Congress to pass the original Obamacare legislation.
IRD’s United Methodist Action Director John Lomperis commented:
“Christians of all political stripes agree on the importance of addressing gaps in our nation’s health care system, but disagree about the best means for doing so.
“Individual Christian citizens should be involved in the political process. But a church, as an institution, strays beyond its proper area of focus when it gets into the weeds of mimicking secular, partisan lobby groups in endorsing and opposing specific bills on complex prudential judgments over the best precise way to achieve certain ends.
“Those church groups who lobbied for ‘Obamacare’ should have at least heeded that basic principle of Methodist and medical ethics: First, do no harm.
“This new development casts serious doubts on whether the staff of partisan, Religious Left groups like Sojourners or the oldline denominational lobby offices can be trusted as having the basic competence to understand the consequences of the bills they lobby for and against. It is not even clear that they even took the time to carefully read the health-care bill before so energetically endorsing it and lobbying for its passage.
“In a season of dwindling denominational finances, United Methodists would do well to ask whether our best stewardship includes funding a multi-million-dollar partisan political lobby office. In its enthusiastic lobbying for ‘Obamacare,’ including abortion coverage, the United Methodist lobby apparently failed to notice serious threats to our own pastors’ health care.”