In case you're counting down the hours to the President's faith call tonight, here's some essential reading in the meantime. From the Los Angeles Times:
President Obama has barnstormed the country to sell his healthcare overhaul directly to sometimes-skeptical Americans. Today he will bring his message to a friendlier audience -- faith leaders who see reform as an ethical and religious imperative.
Obama is scheduled to address more than 1,000 religious figures in two conference calls, allowing him to extend his message to legions of faithful in the pews.
First up is a "High Holy Day" call this morning with rabbis from Judaism's Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements. Organizers hope the call will provide fodder for synagogue sermons when the Jewish holidays arrive next month.
"There is a very important moral dimension to this discussion," said Mark J. Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism which invited Obama to join the morning discussion.
The center is a co-sponsor of the second conference call later in the day -- pegged as "40 Minutes for Health Reform" -- with scores of lay leaders and clergy from evangelical, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish traditions.
"My hope and prayer is that President Obama is going to hold firm to his principle of making sure everyone is covered," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, head of the progressive evangelical group Sojourners and a member of Obama's faith-based advisory council. "Holding presidents to promises they have made is a good vocation for the faith community."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama would deliver the same message he has conveyed in other forums -- the need to relieve healthcare's financial burden on families and small businesses.
"Obviously the president will talk about the importance of providing access to affordable health insurance for millions of those that currently don't have it," Gibbs told reporters Tuesday during a White House media briefing.
Obama's conversations with faith leaders come as major religious groups -- including Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, ramp up a national campaign to influence the fall debate over healthcare.
More here and here.