Screengrab from Twitter

I say this as a person of faith myself — it’s no wonder that a lot of highly moral people look skeptically at religion these days. Why wouldn’t they?

We’ve just seen House Speaker Paul Ryan ask Republicans to “pray” for the passage of a bill that will take away health insurance from 24 million Americans (possibly more), remove strong protections for pre-existing conditions, cut Medicaid, take us back to the awful days of expensive state-run, high-risk pools, and put a per capita cap on support for Special Education students.

Oh, and surprise, there’s also a tax cut in there for the wealthiest Americans.

The inhumanity is made worse by the gobsmacking hypocrisy of these folks who wear their faith so prominently on their sleeves, but not in their deeds. Rewind to 2009. Ryan complained on MSNBC: “I don’t think we should pass bills that we haven’t read and don’t know what they cost,” in reference to Democratic efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act. This is the very same Ryan who rushed through this horrific bill without waiting for scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, and in the face of opposition from every major patient advocacy group and medical organization.

Then there’s House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell back in 2010 proudly announced the Republican “Pledge to America.” All evidence of this pledge has conveniently been purged from the Republican Party’s website in a move that would make George Orwell’s MiniTru proud. But of course, the Internet is forever, and so we have evidence from a (sarcasm alert) liberal “fake news” site, The Weekly Standard, founded by notorious liberal Bill Kristol, of the pledges that these “religious conservatives” made to us Americans a mere seven years ago.

Things like:

Read The Bill: We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public. Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.

Advance Legislative Issues One at a Time: We will end the practice of packaging unpopular bills with “must-pass” legislation to circumvent the will of the American people. Instead, we will advance major legislation one issue at a time.

It’s no wonder they wanted this pledge purged from their website, because they’re reneging on so much of it — well, unless you’re well off, that is.

Ensure Access For Patients With Pre-Existing Conditions: Health care should be accessible for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses. We will expand state high-risk pools, reinsurance programs and reduce the cost of coverage. We will make it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition, eliminate annual and lifetime spending caps, and prevent insurers from dropping your coverage just because you get sick. We will incentivize states to develop innovative programs that lower premiums and reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

Republicans can’t even claim that they are doing this for the benefit of patients. It’s purely to give well off Americans a tax cut.

Earlier this week, late night host Jimmy Kimmel gave an incredibly moving monologue following the birth of his son, William, with a congenital heart defect. Here’s an excerpt: “We were brought up to believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, but until a few years ago, millions and millions of us had no access to health insurance at all. Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you’d never be able to get health insurance because you had a pre-existing condition. You were born with a pre-existing condition, and if your parents didn’t have medical insurance, you might not live long enough to even get denied because of a pre-existing condition. If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.”

Speaking on CNN: Dr. David L. Hill, official spokesman for American Association of Pediatrics said: “Before the ACA, a child like Jimmy Kimmel’s child, who was born with a congenital heart disease, could use up the entire lifetime limit for insurance coverage maybe in a week or two. These are the sorts of conditions that are eminently treatable, but it’s expensive to treat them … Even someone with the resources of Jimmy Kimmel could ultimately be bankrupted by a lifetime of care.”

American Medical Association President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., issued the following statement on Wednesday about proposed changes to the American Health Care Act:

“None of the legislative tweaks under consideration changes the serious harm to patients and the health care delivery system if AHCA passes. Proposed changes to the bill tinker at the edges without remedying the fundamental failing of the bill — that millions of Americans will lose their health insurance as a direct result of this proposal.

“High-risk pools are not a new idea. Prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, 35 states operated high-risk pools, and they were not a panacea for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. The history of high-risk pools demonstrates that Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stuck in second-class health care coverage — if they are able to obtain coverage at all.

“America should not go backward to the time when our fellow citizens with pre-existing health conditions faced high costs for limited coverage, if they were able to obtain coverage at all. The AMA urges congressional leaders and the Administration to pursue a bipartisan dialogue on alternative policies that provide patients with access and coverage to high quality care and preserve the safety net for vulnerable populations.”

I asked Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano for comment on how praying for “one of the cruelest pieces of legislation to ever hit the floor” squared with his understanding of the Christian faith — or any of the Abrahamic religions?

He didn’t respond.

Perhaps, that goes some way toward explaining why fundraising is lagging for Republicans in Connecticut. Perhaps decent Republicans realize that certain things aren’t Republican or Democratic issues. They are human issues. For all their loudly professed religiosity, that’s something House Republicans have clearly forgotten.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU (and as such is an AAUP member), and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of

Avatar photo

Sarah Darer Littman

Sarah Darer Littman is a critically-acclaimed author of books for young people. Her latest novel, Some Kind of Hate, comes out Nov. 1 from Scholastic Press.

The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of or any of the author's other employers.