Pastors Speak on the Immorality of the ACA Lawsuit Ahead of Oral Arguments in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

 

On a press call earlier today, members of the Southern Christian Coalition (SCC) called on Governor Bill Lee to urge Attorney General Herbert Slatery to withdraw Tennessee from the lawsuit that could repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The health law faces a significant challenge tomorrow when the U.S Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hears arguments in the ACA lawsuit, Texas vs. United States.

For the last year, the SCC appealed to the attorney general by delivering roughly 1,000 signatures to AG Slatery, meeting with his staff, and holding several press conferences outside his office in Legislative Plaza. A timeline of actions is below.

Joseph Sheeran, a recent graduate with his Master’s in Divinity from Vanderbilt, facilitated the call and recounted the SCC’s tireless work to protect the ACA: “For the past year, the SCC has repeatedly spoken against the immorality of this lawsuit and how it is counter to Christian values. We are now appealing to new Gov. Bill Lee, a fellow man of faith, to urge his attorney general to withdraw Tennessee from this harmful lawsuit which, if successful, will repeal the ACA.”

If the lawsuit prevails and the ACA is struck down, Tennesseans will suffer: protections for pre-existing conditions and any chance for Tennessee to expand Medicaid will vanish. After the 5th Circuit rules, the lawsuit will reach the Supreme Court, the last chance to save the ACA.

“Gov. Lee has publicly acknowledged that he is guided by the principles of his Lord and Savior. As a pastor of the church, I cannot believe that our elected officials—most of whom claim to be Christians—are not only turning a blind eye to the plight of people with health issues without insurance but taking active measures to undo and take away health insurance from Tennesseans,” said Rev. Matt Steinhauer of Faith Lutheran Church in Lebanon and father to a son with special needs. “If Gov. Lee does not ask AG Slatery to withdraw from the lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act, he will be responsible for the loss of pre-existing conditions protections for millions of Americans.”

Minister Kelli X of the Village Church in Madison discussed her meeting with AG Slatery’s staff in September of 2018: “It was discouraging. There was less of a concern about people and more concern around political ideology. Now, I appeal to Gov. Lee to live up to his Christian values, have the heart of Christ, and demand AG Slatery withdraws from this lawsuit. I call on our governor to be a man who is willing to do what Christ did.”

The two speakers on the call, Rev. Matt Steinhauer of Faith Lutheran Church in Lebanon and Minister Kelli X of the Village Church in Madison, have requested to meet with Gov. Lee, a fellow man of faith, on or before August 9, 2019. They are waiting to hear if and when Gov. Lee’s office will meet with them.

Timeline of SCC’s actions to protect the ACA:

  • July 18, 2018: Letter Signing Ceremony at Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville. Pastors and members of the congregation signed an open letter to Slatery asking that he withdrew Tenn. from the lawsuit.
  • July 27, 2018: Open Letter Delivery to AG Slatery’s Office: Presented almost 1,000 signatures
  • Sept. 5, 2018: Office Visit and Press Conference 
  • Dec. 18, 2018: After Texas ruling to strike down the ACA, SCC requests an office visit with Slatery. His staff refused a meeting and deflected: “The appropriate body to address concerns is the US Congress.”
  • Dec. 20, 2018: Press Conference in response to the Texas ruling and Slatery’s refusal to meet with faith leaders
  • March 23, 2019: Press Conference to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the ACA and call for Slatery to withdraw Tenn. from the lawsuit