Here is a message from John Edgerton, the associate minister at Old South Church.
This is where I was baptized. This is where Dominick and I said our wedding vows. This will always be my spiritual home, and I couldn’t be more proud of the people, like John, who create this community of faith.
Hello beloved Old South,
I’m writing to let you know that earlier today I was arrested in Washington D.C. as a part of an act of civil disobedience resisting a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Clergy from many faiths, health care professionals, and people who have their insurance through the Affordable Care Act came together for a peaceful, disciplined, non-violent act of resistance.
I want to give an account of why I did this, because I am indeed accountable to you as one of your ministers. I do a great deal of work to reform the law without resorting to civil disobedience. So why engage in civil disobedience now?
First, because members of Old South stand to be hurt. Members of our church may lose their health insurance, or have pre-existing conditions once again serve as a basis for denying them health coverage. To simply roll back the Affordable Care Act, without a careful plan for how to replace its life-saving protections, is staggeringly irresponsible. Members of our church will be hurt. Our families will be hurt. Our children will be hurt. When I joined Old South church I promised to resist oppression and evil, today’s action is in keeping with that promise.
Second, I took this action because I was invited to do so. We are living in extraordinary and dangerous and uncertain and frightening days. People who I care about asked me to stand with them in fighting to protect their health care, so I said yes. I do not believe this is the time to worry over whether I can take on all the possible fights facing us. There will be many times in the coming months when people of faith are called to stand with the vulnerable. And when the vulnerable call us to stand with them, theirs is the voice of Jesus Christ bidding us to follow Him.
Finally, I took this action because I have hope that it will make a difference. As a Christian, I believe that people who have made a mistake can change. I believe that the past does not dictate the future. I believe disciplined and loving non-violent action can change people’s hearts. I believe that Congress may still choose to do the right thing and find political compromise that will allow the critical life-saving protections of the ACA to remain in place. This was an act of hope, grounded in love.
I would like to ask a few things of you.
First, I ask for your prayers. I am not sure at what time I will be released from jail, and I covet your prayers.
Second, if you would like to be supportive of what I’ve done, please come to the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization meeting on Thursday at Bethel AME at 6:30pm. RSVP to me if you can make it. We are organizing on a state level to protect health care and your presence will help ensure our state officials do everything in their power to protect our health care. We have a strategy to help protect health care. Today’s civil disobedience is part of it. Thursday’s GBIO action is a part of it. Scripture calls us to be wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. Thursday’s action will help us shine up our scales on issues of health care, criminal justice reform, and affordable housing.
Lastly, if you disagree with what I have done, please write to me and tell me why. I promise I will read it carefully, and write you a thoughtful and considered and personal reply. Our congregational polity does not demand that we agree on everything, but it does call for us to remain in relationship across all our differences. Our political environment is so toxic right now that political disagreement can seem certain to break relationship. I commit to doing what I can to behave differently, to try to live up to the scriptural admonition that “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all people.”
I honestly do believe that we are living in remarkable times, times when the moral voice of the church is needed more than ever. If in this action I have erred, I hope that I have erred on the side of foolhardy love.
It is my honor and privilege to be yours,
The Old South Church in Boston