HARTFORD, Conn. – An interfaith group of clergy and supporters rallied at Sen. Joe Lieberman’s Hartford office Tuesday to present hundreds of personal prayers in support of health care reform with a strong public option. The prayers had been written by participants in a candle light vigil at Lieberman’s home in Stamford on Sunday, Nov. 15. The Condo association refused to allow one of those present who lives in the same building as Lieberman to deliver the prayers.
A statement by the Interfaith Clergy for Universal Healthcare decried the fact that in addition to refusing to meet with faith leaders, “Sen. Lieberman has refused to listen to advocates, doctors, and small business leaders about their support for including a public option in any health care reform bill”
Chaplin Bilal Ansari said, “We will not give up on those who are desperate for affordable health care. We will keep praying for Senator Joe Lieberman because we believe that a man of conscience will see that the public option is essential to achieving a health care system that works for those in need.”
Those present acknowledged that Lieberman did the right thing by voting to allow debate to go forward instead of conducting the filibuster he had threatened. But now as the debate on the content of the bill is underway, the clergy brought a message for a yes vote for health care reform with a strong public option.
Lieberman has stated on national television that his conscience would not allow him to vote for a public option, leading many to question his ties to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Clergy from a spectrum of faith traditions have come forward to challenge Lieberman’s assertion.
On the day before the Senate vote, a delegation from the NAACP visited Lieberman’s office at the Capitol to insist on reform that includes a public option and measures to address the needs of those proportionately most left out of health care coverage.
A barrage of television ads and robo phone calls spreading lies that health care reform will hurt seniors and the middle class have failed to shift public opinion, as the majority continue to support the public option.
At the Nov. 15 vigil of over 500, the rabbis, priests, and imams who attempted to deliver prayer cards written by those present to Lieberman’s condo were turned away on order of building security that had been directed not to accept any offerings. A neighbor residing in Senator Lieberman’s building who attended the vigil tried to deliver the prayer cards, she was turned away as well. So the Interfaith Fellowship went to Sen. Lieberman’s office on Nov. 24 to deliver the prayers.
Photo: PW/Tom Connolly