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Crosscurrents

Harnessing the political power of "Nuns on a Bus"

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As head of the Catholic Social Justice group network, Sister Simone Campbell, who is a nun, worked for immigration reform, healthcare, and economic justice. In 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was being debated in Congress, she wrote a letter in support of the bill, and was able to get 60 signatures from religious orders in the US on it.

But, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops didn’t sign on because of their stance on abortion and contraception. Since then, Sister Simone has been ostracized by the Conference, and labeled a ‘radical nun’.

She recruited a number of fellow nuns and started going on bus tours around America to bring awareness to issues of health, immigration, and social justice – it’s what Jesus would do, she says. Oakland filmmaker Melissa Regan followed Sister Simone for a year for her new documentary called “Nuns on the Bus.” Regan came by our studios to tell us about the phenomenon that is Sister Simone.

MELISSA REGAN: She kind of has a superhero superpower in being a nun. She walks into a Congressional hearing that is filled with vitriol and ridiculousness, and all of the sudden it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s a nun in the room.’ Even the people who politically disagree with her are a little more on their good behavior.

Click the audio player to listen to the interview.

Find more information about “Nuns on the Bus” here

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.