Leaders: God wants uninsured kids covered

March 6, 2007 at 6:40 PM

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. religious leaders from the world's largest faith traditions Tuesday sounded a clarion call to cover uninsured children.

Making sure the 9 million children in the United States without health insurance have access to healthcare is a moral obligation, according to a meeting of hundreds of religious leaders gathered in Washington this week by the PICO National Network, a non-partisan network of faith-based community organizations.

"Surely in a nation as rich as ours, we can find ways to make certain that all our nation's children receive the healthcare they need," said the Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

Coverage for children has been a topic of extensive congressional debate this year because of the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a joint federal and state program that covers low-income children who do not qualify for Medicaid.

At the conference, religious leaders called on policymakers to make children's healthcare a priority.

"Our children are the most precious trust from God Almighty," said Sayyid M. Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America. "It is our collective religious obligation to make sure that they are provided appropriate healthcare, and possibilities of spiritual and intellectual growth. If we fail in taking care of some of them it is like failing to take care of all of them."

"When G-d declared in Genesis, that we are all made in G-d's image, G-d would never have imagined that we would live in a wealthy society in which 47 million people did not have basic health insurance. That is just not the way we should treat people who are made in the image of G-d," said Rabbi Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

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