The Nuns on the Bus, a touring group of activist Catholic nuns, arrived at the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, to demonstrate alongside more than 400 others who support the expansion of Medicaid in that state to help the poor. According to the Associated Press, the purpose of the rally was to urge lawmakers to pass a state law that would add more than 1 million working poor people to the Medicaid rolls.
Raw Story spoke to Sister Susan Mika, a San Antonio-based Benedictine sister who works with the Nuns on the Bus and is a member of the Socially Responsible Investment Coalition (SRIC), a Texas group dedicated to balancing "economic and policy practices" with "faith and social concerns."
"We've had a good day here today," said Mika. "We came from all over the state of Texas to talk about Medicaid expansion and to advocate for it."
The protest today, she said, was made up of "the nuns and our allies from all over the state, different community groups, different unions, just concerned citizens who we work with and who know of our work on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised."
After a morning rally on the steps of the capitol, the nuns and their supporters went inside to lobby Texas lawmakers in favor if following through on the Medicaid expansion. One group met with Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and his staff.
"It was just amazing," Mika said, to see the amassed group on the capitol steps and in the halls of the legislature. "We all wore green as a sign of hope. We all had signs that said 'Nuns on the Bus' and then we had the bus for our logo as our name tags."
Sister Ceil Roeger informed the AP that 24 percent of Texans do not have health insurance, the highest percentage of any state in the country. Reportedly, the group took some time to process through security because their rosaries were setting off metal detectors.
The media-savvy group kicked off its national tour in June and has been criss-crossing the country since, advocating for women and the poor. The group began its tour in response to a reprimand from the Vatican, who accused them of "radical feminism" and not doing enough to fight same sex marriage.
Sister Simone Campbell told Agence France Presse, "Our bus is about a policy conversation … to say we the people of the United States, we can be a better union."
[photo by Tanya Tarr]