Hundreds Turn Out for Georgia’s Moral Mondays

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Georgia First Moral Monday

(Photo courtesy of Moral Monday Georgia)

This post first appeared in The Nation.

Hundreds of Moral Mondays demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Capitol this week to protest Governor Nathan Deal’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 400,000 people in Georgia will be denied Medicaid coverage by state leaders.

“Healthcare and access to healthcare — preventative services as well as treatment — is a civil right, a human right, and a moral right,” Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and a physician at Grady Hospital, said to WABE 90.1 FM.

While Deal argues the state can’t afford Medicaid expansion, protesters counter that the federal government would pick up the vast majority of expansion costs. Twenty-two other states have also rejected the expansion.

A coalition of religious and progressive activists staged the first Moral Mondays Georgia protest.

“Make them hear you,” North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber told the crowd. “Don’t make a deal with injustice. Do what is right.”

Related: Activists to Watch: Rev. Dr. William Barber II

In South Carolina, progressive groups held a “Truthful Tuesday” protest at the State House to also protest that Legislature’s failure to enact the expansion in addition to the failure to provide high quality education to all children, and a failure to protect voting rights.

“Whatever North Carolina has done in terms of advocating for moral and ethical laws, our state needs to do the same thing,” said the Reverend Brenda Kneece, executive minister of the South Carolina Christian Action Council, a group that represents 16 denominations and 4,000 congregations. “This rally on Tuesday … is the opening day of the (legislative session), and we want on that day to speak truth to power.”

The “Truthful Tuesday Coalition” consists of the South Carolina Christian Action Council, the South Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, the South Carolina Education Association, the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP and the South Carolina Progressive Network.

Kneece encouraged protesters to “wear black as a sign of mourning for the hundreds of lives which will be lost as a result of our state’s failure to expand Medicaid this year,” The State reports.

Watch: State of Conflict: North Carolina
“It’s to really put lawmakers on notice regarding the need to expand Medicaid and protect voting rights and to fully fund public education,” says George Hopkins, a College of Charleston history professor and Charleston chapter president of the S.C. Progressive Network. “Hopefully on Wednesday the 15th the headlines across the state will read ‘Citizens Descend on Columbia’ to demand legislators take action on these issues.”

The Republican-controlled Legislature last year rejected billions of dollars in federal money that would have expanded the state’s health insurance program for the poor, arguing that expansion would cost the state close to $1 billion in the long term.

This year, Republican leaders are pushing a bill that would make it more difficult for people to sign up for federally subsidized health insurance policies. That bill, H.3101, is before the state Senate.

The Island Packet:

Addressing the anti-Obamacare protesters, state Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg, praised H.3101 as a “nullification” bill, saying it would render Obamacare “null and void” in South Carolina. But state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, the author of an amendment the Senate will debate in the coming weeks, said South Carolina cannot nullify federal law that has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Allison Kilkenny is the co-host of the progressive political podcast Citizen Radio and independent journalist who blogs at Her work has appeared in The American Prospect, the LA Times, In These Times, Truthout and the award-winning grassroots NYC newspaper the Indypendent.
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  • Anonymous

    I wonder why their religious leaders don’t just come out and tell them that their actions on part of the government are not in line with what Jesus Christ taught or what the god of Abraham taught. In the old days, churches used to excommunicate government leaders who did acts contrary to what the church viewed as God’s will. I doubt we’ll see any such boldness today.

    Today, church leaders seem to just want to play it safe for fear of driving off their source of income.

  • Jim

    A paragraph in the above article says: “While Deal argues the state can’t afford Medicaid expansion, protesters
    counter that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT would pick up the vast majority of
    expansion costs.” (And this kind of thinking is WHY this country has a
    -What is it now?- $15,000,000,000,000 debt.), that has to be passed on
    to our children. ‘Man does not know how to direct His own step’ – Jeremaih 10:23