Homily At the Funeral Procession for Tennessee Healthcare


We gather here today remembering in pain, despair and sorrow of between 200,000 and 280,000 uninsured Tennessee residents. As you may have guessed the corpse of healthcare for Tennesseans was too ugly, too putrid for us to have an open casket and viewing. Some will die because of the irresponsibility of very few individuals with power. These deaths are not mere statistics, but represent relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Today we remember a mother who cannot receive chemo, a brother who decides between transportation to work and medical care, a niece who starves because a family medication is too much of a financial burden, a sister in psychological despair that has no place to turn, an aunt who silently withers away while others line their pockets.

The human toll of this sin is staggering. It costs us in lives, money and it damns greedy souls. Now, I am sure that there are plenty of politicians and religious folk that will tell the poor, the suffering, the outcast in our society that if they just wait on Jesus or the market to fulfill their needs. If they don’t get justice in this world, there is always the next.

Woe to those rich and powerful who tell the poor and suffering they should wait on justice. It is funny that we don’t hear too often in church who Jesus says ends up in hell. It is the rich, powerful who do not help the poor here on earth. They end up begging for a drop of water on their tongues to sate their punishment.

Let me catch you up on the state of healthcare in Tennessee and why people might die because of the actions of our own State Senator Todd Gardenhire. There was a billionaire Governor named Bill Haslam that introduced an amendment to the Insure Tennessee plan. This was introduced to avoid having to participate fully in the Affordable Care Act, an act to insure many people falling through our healthcare cracks. This national act was approved by congress and signed into law by our President. Yet, even though our billionaire governor is part of the Republican party and and claims to listen to God’s voice in legislation his fellow God loving Republicans were unhappy with this billionaires amendment to extend medicaid to our most vulnerable.

So, enter Morgan Stanley Wealth Manager, state Senator and Chattanooga’s own Todd Gardenhire. In a committee of 11 people he helped kill the billionaire’s amendment to Insure Tennessee and completely thwarted the Government expanding Medicaid coverage to 200,000 to 280,000 of Tennessee’s most desperate citizens or from even being voted on by our all elected representatives. 7 people decided for 6 1/2 million people to kill this bill before it could be voted on by our elected representatives.

Now why would a God fearing, millionaire, wealth managing, Republican oppose the legislation of another God fearing, Billionaire, Truck stop owning, Republican Governor? Because there is one thing that our own State Senator fears more than the Lord God. He fears another couple billionaires. These billionaires are peppering our state’s senators with their own wise libertarian religious zeal. They oppose this expansion of healthcare. They want their power shown, and known that they are jealous gods. These two are named Koch and they have fashioned a new religion of money’s influence on politics.

So, we saw the death of healthcare expansion for our most vulnerable friends and family. Many will suffer unnecessary delays in treatment, pain and possibly death because of the uncharitable actions of our own God loving Senator.

Yet, even though from different branches of the Presbyterian Church Sen. Gardenshire and I probably share the same hope in resurrection. Presbyterians have historically called the funeral service a “Witness to the Resurrection.”

This resurrection means that we will not accept death as the final answer. Death does not have the final say here. We are committed to the transformative good news that will resurrect all from the apathy and nihilism that our cynical politicians and power monger oligarchs have lulled us into. It is not too late for someone like Todd Gardenhire to repent or for our legislator to do the right thing for those they consider least.

As Sen. Gardenhire said to Sen. Yarbro in a heated debate before Gardenhire helped kill expansions to healthcare I would say to him, “You need to learn how to respect us!” Death where is your sting? We will rise again and the people will have life. No matter the politician, billionaire, corporate lobbyist or wealth manager the resurrection of the people is unstoppable.


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