On September 8, the United Church of Christ began a campaign to collect 100,000 signatures over the INterbet for the purpose of telling Congress how important it believes health care reform to be. The Web page where the sign-up was taking place proclaims:
Before Sept. 18—in just 10 days—our hope is to send 100,000 messages to Congress and deliver a huge book of 100,000 names to the Democratic and Republican leadership in Congress, starting with the in-district office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during [UCC President] Rev. Geoffrey Black’s upcoming trip to visit churches in the San Francisco area. Together, speaking as people of faith, we have the power to change the conversation and envision a society where each person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity.
Well, the 10 days was up on Friday, and I went to check out how they did this morning. As of 11:30 AM, three days after the end of their 10-day campaign, they had collected all of 16,500 signatures. This despite the fact that the form was open to anyone–they don’t ask on it whether the signer is a Christian, much less a UCC member. This also despite the fact that when they’ve run campaigns such as this before–for instance, in opposition to the Iraq war–they were able to garner most if not all of the signatures they sought. I’m not sure what their inability to get even 20% of the names they were looking for says. Maybe that UCC members aren’t interested in the subject, maybe that they oppose the denomination’s stand, maybe that the petition was too vague (like so much of the advocacy on health care reform, it talks about goals but not means), maybe nothing at all. In any case, I’d be willing that this is one petition that won’t be delivered to anyone any time soon, or if it is, it will be without an explanation of why their list of names is so short.
UPDATE: According to UCC News, Rev. Black presented Nancy Pelosi with what he termed a “down payment” on Friday:
While visiting local churches this weekend in the San Francisco area, the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, incoming UCC General Minister and President, brought with him the names, addresses and phone numbers of 16,177 fellow UCC members and supporters which he delivered Friday to the in-district offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“This is a down payment on the 100,000 messages that we expect to gather and deliver in the coming weeks in support of health care reform,” Black told Mark Herbert, deputy director of Pelosi’s office. “We come out of the tradition of Jesus, the healer, and we believe that gift of healing should be available to all.”
That was Friday. As pf today, they are up to 16,593. At that rate, Pelosi will get her 100,000 around the time of the next New Hampshire presidential primary.