US churches continue push for children's economic rights

By staff writers
July 4, 2007

The Rev Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has joined leaders of 20 other national religious organizations in a letter to leaders of the US Congress this month (June 2007), urging expanded funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

The religious leaders joined the People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) National Network, and the National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA) in their call for action. They asked US Senator Max Baucus, Finance Committee chair, and US Senator Harry Reid, majority leader, to help produce $50 billion in legislation to expand SCHIP.

PICO and NCCUSA have generated nearly 10,000 letters from faith communities to the Senate on SCHIP, according to a recent PICO news release.

"We speak from a broad range of religious traditions representing many millions of families in urging you to craft SCHIP legislation that will help our nation see a day when no child goes without treatment or relies on an emergency room for his or her primary health care," the church leader wrote.

"We ask that you fulfill the commitment Congress made to include $50 billion over five years in additional funding for children's health. The faith community worked extraordinarily hard to see that the Senate and House included $50 billion in new funding in the budget resolution. We want to see these funds used to support a strong SCHIP reauthorization."

PICO is a national network of faith-based community organizations working to create solutions for problems faced by communities. PICO works to increase access to health care, improve public schools, make neighborhoods safer, provide affordable housing, redevelop communities and revitalize democracy.

More than 50 religious denominations and faith traditions, including the ELCA, representing more than 1 million families, are part of PICO, according to its mission statement.

"With your continued leadership we see a day when all children in our nation receive the health care they need to grow into healthy and productive members of society," the faith leaders concluded in their letter.

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