POLITICS
07/27/2017 10:02 am ET

Clergy Carry Coffin To Capitol In Dramatic Protest Of GOP's Health Care Efforts

"We are a moral movement, rising up in resistance to the cruelness of this Congress."
Faith leaders carry a coffin during a protest on Capitol Hill against efforts to repeal Obamacare.
Michelle Nealy
Faith leaders carry a coffin during a protest on Capitol Hill against efforts to repeal Obamacare.

Faith leaders from a number of religious denominations have for weeks been vociferously protesting Republicans’ plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act ― repeatedly getting arrested for acts of civil disobedience at the U.S. Capitol. 

As the Senate narrowly voted to begin debate on repealing the health law on Tuesday, some interfaith clergy turned up the volume on their protests by bringing in a prop they hoped would demonstrate their frustration with the GOP’s efforts ― a coffin.

Four clergy members acting as pallbearers carried the black cardboard casket during a march on Capitol Hill, trailed by fellow protestors who were holding signs and chanting. One protestor carried an oversized death certificate. 

The demonstration was meant to evoke the plight of the more than 20 million people who would eventually lose health coverage if a version of the bill is approved by the Senate.

“We are a moral movement, rising up in resistance to the cruelness of this Congress. We are commanded by a moral imperative to care for the sick,” Rev. Robin Tanner, of Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, NJ, said.  Forget partisan politics, forget left and right, forget Republican and Democrat, we are commanded to take care of the people ― our people.”

 Watch a Facebook video of the rally below.

The faith leaders rallied near Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s office, then proceeded to the Senate Gallery. Thirty-one members of the group were arrested by Capitol Police after they started chanting “kill the bill,” according to Religion News Service. 

For two weeks in a row, people of faith have taken up the call of Jeremiah once again to go to the places where powers sit and demand they stop the political murder of those who may lose health care,” protest leaders said in a statement released by the advocacy group Faith In Public Life. 

On Wednesday, the Senate rejected a proposal that would have repeal parts of the ACA without providing a replacement. But the debate isn’t over yet ― other versions of the effort to repeal the ACA will be debated in the Senate throughout the week. 

According to Faith In Public Life, the clergy plan to continue protesting at the Capitol every Tuesday until Congress recesses in August. A protest is also planned for this Thursday.

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