Reverend William Barber Leads Multifaith Clergy in Protest Against Health Care Bill

The Reverend William Barber was among the clergy members arrested at the U.S. Capitol Thursday morning at a protest against the latest version of the GOP health care bill held outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office.

The version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act released Thursday morning has additional funding for fighting the opioid crisis, but lacks a CBO score, and still stands to leave 22 million Americans without health insurance. 

Barber, who was released at 2pm, according to the Charlotte Observer, led a group of approximately 50 faith leaders who met a few blocks away for a brief march, followed by a demonstration in front of McConnell's office. They carried signs saying "Love Thy Neighbor (No exceptions)," and spoke about their moral and religious objections to the health care bill.

“The senators are preying on the sickest and the poorest in this country," Barber said. "That kind of prayer is hypocritical. Their kind of prayer is the prayer that makes God weep,” Barber said.

He added, “We come here today to talk about sin. Sin. This bill, an attempt to use power to take health care, is sin. It’s immoral.”

Others spoke of members of their congregation who would die without the protections of the Affordable Care Act. Covering the protest on Twitter, Vox reporter Jeff Stein recorded Rev. Jennifer Butler reading from a Bible she planned to give to McConnell in the hopes that he'd actually read it. 

According to the Observer, "After several warnings from police telling the protesters to disperse, officers arrested seven women and four men and charged them with 'crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.'" 

Stein captured a number of striking moments, including Rev. Traci Blackmon, the executive director of justice and witness ministries at the United Church of Christ, who called out the greed of senators giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans: "It is time to stop calling god by other names when you really want to call god ‘capitalism.’ It is time to stop cloaking your greed in religious language. I’m here to tell you there ain’t nothing right about the religion that’s happening in these halls. This should be where we come for help."

Watch video of Rev. Blackmon's speech below: 

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