Would Jesus support health care reform?
Jesus depicted healing a sick child.
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Would Jesus support health care reform?

Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:

David Nelson
It is sad that Jesus has been demoted to being a politician. Jesus plainly said "My Kingdom is not of this world." Movements to use Him to promote their agendas, whether they be on the Left or Right, are extremely suspect in the eyes of this Christian.

Jesus would SO have been a democrat. He taught us to care for the sick...not to profit off illness. I don't know how Republicans can live with themselves and call themselves Christian.

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.

We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.

References to Jesus, of course, didn’t make into the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a moral dimension to this epic legal debate:

How should the nation help its “least of these,” an estimated 50 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as well as those who could go broke or die because they can’t afford medical care?

Christians are as divided about this question as others. Many cite Jesus, but come up with completely different conclusions.

Trust God or government?

Tom Prichard, a Lutheran and president of the Minnesota Family Council, said it’s ultimately about faith.  Who do we trust – God or government?

He opposes “Obamacare” because he has more faith in the market and people, than government.

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“Here Jesus’ words come to mind about not worrying and trusting God to meet our basic needs,” Prichard wrote in an online post warning about the dangers of “government run health care.” “Or if we believe it all depends on us, we’ll look to government.”

When reached at his Minnesota office,Prichard elaborated: He said the nation should empower families and individuals to make health-care decisions. If families can’t afford health insurance, private and public entities like churches and nonprofits should step in, he said.

“We all have the same goal,”Prichard said. “We want all people to have health care, even people who can’t afford it. I would argue that having the government be the primary vehicle for providing it is not going to get us to that goal. It’s going to make the situation worse.”

Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, evoked Jesus’ words about Rome and taxation.

Raschke cited the New Testament passage when Jesus, after being asked if Jews should pay taxes to Rome, said that people should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Jesus was against strictly political or economic solutions because he thought they were too easy when it comes to the real challenges of human life, Raschke said.

“Writing checks won’t solve social problems,” Raschke said. “One has to get involved. If we see someone in need, we just don’t throw a dollar at him or her. You get to know them, you offer yourself, and ask what you can do for them.”

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

There are some Christians, though, who say that charity isn’t enough to solve the nation’s health care problems.

An estimated 32 million Americans could lose health insurance if “Obamacare” is struck down, including children who can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and seniors who get help paying for their drug prescriptions. Most observers say health care costs would continue to rise.

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Some people believe the health care situation in America would be scandalous to Jesus because he was a prophet concerned about social justice.

Steven Kraftchick, a religious scholar, said Jesus comes out of the tradition of Jewish prophets who preached that the health of a society could be measured by how well they took care of “its widows and orphans,” those who had the least power.

Kraftchick said there’s a famous story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus heals such a person. He was the man who called himself Legion. He might have been called homeless and mentally ill. The man roamed a graveyard, so tormented that even chains could not hold him and everyone feared him, Mark wrote.

Jesus healed the man not only physically, but socially as well, according to Mark. The man returned to his community with a sense of dignity, said Kraftchick, a professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

“A move toward universal health care would be fitting with the prophetic traditions,” Kraftchick said. “When you read the New Testament and look at the signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, it’s always connected to being physically healed.”

Yet Marcia Pally, an authority on evangelicals, said many evangelicals are wary of government doing the healing.  Their reasons go back centuries.

Many are the descendants of people who fled Europe because of religious persecution from countries and state churches. They fought a revolution against a government in England.  And they settled a frontier, where the virtue of self-reliance was critical, said Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Suspicion of government is part of their historical and religious experience, said Pally, a professor at Fordham University and New York University.

Those attitudes, though, may be changing. Pally said she spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She discovered that a new generation of evangelists now believes that certain issues are too big and complex to be addressed by charity alone.

“Some note that charity is very good at the moment of emergency relief but it doesn’t change the underlying problem  unless structures that keep people poor, sick or deny their access to health insurance are changed,” she said.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the legal debate will continue. If more Americans go broke or die because they do not have health insurance, more Americans may ask, what would Jesus do?

But don’t expect any easy answers from the Bible, said Raschke, the religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

“People are always looking for support from the Bible for American political positions,” Rashke said. “Would Jesus be against abortion, or would he support a woman’s right to choose? It’s almost become a standard joke in the theological world that you quote Jesus in American politics to support your political views.

“The teachings of Jesus do not fit into the views of any political party."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. Jesus Monster

    Would Houdini believe in health care? He was a better magician than Jesus.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • sean mccoy

      who came up with this story leave jesus out of this every one should have free health care i beleve in jesus healing people but dont bring him in this mess. there should be a limit on how much people can sue doctors.and sue pill makers and im getting tired of all the ads on tv about sue this pill maker if you had a heartatack if you had taking this drug its total BS

      March 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • factChik

      Do atheist live for the chance to be rage against the macine every chance you get? You all are a particularly combative, antagonistic bunch! For people who are sooo happy without religion, you seem a pretty miserable bunch.

      If you're so bothered, don't post!!! How easy is that?

      March 31, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • factChik

      Imagine- for that reasoning ability and you can't handle a hypothetical! question? Shame...

      March 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  2. Charles P. Pray

    I get a kick out of those who say Christ was a capitalist.
    Christ didn't ask for "payment of capital" to reward his healing…, he gave freely.
    Obama passed a group of proposal Republicans have advocated for years and all of a sudden its now a bad idea… because it was his. I didn't think it went far enough, and I'm not worried – I have two health insurances through retirement programs and Medicare. No big deal for me, but I do worry about my fellow Americans who I have fought wars for, done public service for, and "care" about – because I am a christian and an American.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • factChik

      Jesus also was not a healthcare professional by trade. There were healers and doctors back then.

      So your analogy is irrelevant.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Hello

      if jesus.. would have gotten rid of disease then no one would need health care.. guess he was not smart enough to do that... dumb god.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • factChik

      If the rabid secularist are a picture of what godlessness is like, I'd take a fairy tale over being obnoxious, arrogant and mean.

      Atheist here suck!

      March 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  3. hopeprescott

    If non-believers are correct, this doesn't matter to them anyway. When they die they will become nothing forever. However, if they're wrong, ouch. They participate in these debates because they are afraid they may be wrong and are trying to find comfort in their non-belief. They mock Christians and Jesus. They'll most likely mock this post as well. Paul was once a non-believer. Please study and think. As Christians, we don't want to put you down, we want to help you study so you will believe. Please, think about it. If you'd like to discuss it, you can email me at jonkevinmck at)gmail dot)com. True Christians really care.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  4. JC

    You're kidding right? Now we are reaching back to a 2,000 year old historic figure whose words have been interpreted, mis-interpreted and re-interpreted and then written down by, essentially, strangers over hundreds of years for direction?

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • factChik

      Do atheist live for the chance to be anti- whatEVER every chance you get? You all are a particularly combative, antagonistic bunch!

      If you're so bothered, don't post!!! How easy is that?

      March 31, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  5. Believer

    jesus would support being bombed and doing nothing about it. after 9/11 jesus would have turned the other cheek. and that would have been an insanely powerful statement to the world. Would jesus support health care reform? i don't know. but i do know that jesus would support you giving all your money to the poor. every last cent. all your property. all your belongings. jesus would say: "yeah, i support that."

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • JC

      Right on my friend. Talk about Simple and not easy....but then that is why He is who He is

      March 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      No he would not. Jesus paid taxes, gave and performed charity. Do you?

      March 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • factChik

      After having run priests out of the temple with a whip and advising his disciples to carry a sword, I'm not sure he might be inclined to do nothing.

      Being godly is not being a doormat.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Hello

      yeah jesus was a communist...

      March 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  6. Robert Ray

    Once stripped of its imaginary friends,demons,angels,devels and spirits,we are taught to help those less fortunate. Health cars ranks at the top. Jesus and all the other figments of ones delusions should not enter onto the picture.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  7. brian

    HOLY F*N CRAP. What's next– Would Michael Jackson, Gary Coleman or Jim Morrison support universal healthcare!?@?

    March 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Lilith

      At least they were real & lived in our modern world.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Hello

      not really universal only the few remaining tax payers will have to pay.. the rich, poor and illegals get it free...

      doesn't that just make you feel so special you have to pay for the losers... and you have to wait in the back of the line behind THEM. .

      The value of American citizenship is going down every year.. soon it will not pay to be a citizen... it will be just too expensive.... better sell your worthless citizenship before it tanks like the rest of the economy.

      I would offer my for 5 bucks.. but I bet would not get any takers.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  8. David

    I know people that do not have health care insurance because they would rather spend that money elsewhere. should the rest of us pay for their health care?

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • rose

      No, those dummies (mostly DEMs) are on their own. We pay for welfare in all the stateswith our tax month. That's as far as it goes.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  9. WDinDallas

    Everytime the Marxist in media take a lost they start with Jesus in order to get sympathy for their causes. The next day they want revolution.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  10. Mohammad A Dar

    A man depicted as Jesus never existed in hiostry but hinduism, innovation of Egyption hindu's pagans by stealing knowledge from Hebrew's to promote hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism, based on hindu pagan Pharoahnic hinduism, racism with

    hindu pagan sign of hinduism racism, cross and swastika.Question by writer has no bases to ask for opinion, because a hindu pagan man god named as Jesus never existed.

    Word hindu is based on Latin, (truth) language word hindered, negative, Hun, for great, as in white huns of central Asia, Han, to be in greatness, as in Han, dynasty of china and hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity and hinduism, way of negativty. Source of hinduism, disunity among humanity a cause of mayhem, Karma whole humanity is suffering for hinduism, denial of truth of hindu's, deniers of truth absolute in life and hinduism, fabrication of pot head, boy loving hindu sanatan's, criminal goons pretending to be god's in hinduism, defiance of truth absolute to make humanity their gentiles, slaves in Magi ism, trickery in line with hindu, criminal Pharaoh's hinduism, racism and their hindu criminal boy abusing, a holy tradition of hindu criminal tradition as hindu sanatans, filthy goons as man god's of humanity in Pharoahnic hinduism, racism.

    Word Jew is hinduism fabrication of Pharoahnic hindu's, based on Hebrew word Yahood, self centered, secular, hindu, denier of truth, a pig, self centered in defiance of truth absolute in Pharoahnis hinduism, racism, and source of hindu filthy hinduism racism and hindu filthy Judaism, self center ism. Cause of hinduism, disunity among humanity. such as in word Ro Ben hood,l

    Ro means enshrined in or established , Ben, blessing as in Arabic or Hebrew language, hood, habitat, universe according to hindu absurd hinduism absurdity, universe to be creator of human as her gentiles, slaves and human Kings and priest to be their hindu filthy man god's to rule over them.

    hindu Jew's, self centered, secular are not what they claim to be, "ISRAELITE" but hindu pagan of Egypt and Persia, pretending to be Israelite to hind, fool humanity, as has been the case of generations to rob and steal from humanity.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Eternal

      Is hatred, abuse and disrespect integral part of islam or your own trait?

      April 2, 2012 at 1:55 am |
  11. lol

    You mean, if Jesus ever existed, and wasn't so stupid. Right?

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  12. No Gods, No Masters

    Matthew 21:2

    "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me."

    This is theft plain and simple.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  13. rose

    Obama does not believe in Jesus - he is Muslim. Pleaseeeeeeee!!. All States of a Health Department with free clinics for those who cannot afford medical ins. So, why do we have this dumb plan? NOT sure. Someone out there, "other than a bleeding DEM" explain why this cannot be fixed with a beef up of the state health departments. Those who can afford health care and choose not to take it, are on their own. Stupid is as Stupid does (Forest Gump).

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  14. Thanuat

    How could anyone be stupid enough to even ask such a question?

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  15. Tr1Xen

    Jesus has been dead for around 2,000 years. I don't really care what he would have thought.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  16. factChik

    I'm confident Jesus would have nothing against reform that was done the right way, the right reasons according to law. As long as it was done consistently with the rule of law and did not include or invoke acts that violate his beliefs, I think he'd be fine with it- whatever that legal "it" needed to be.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • sean mccoy

      who came up with this story leave jesus out of this every one should have free health care i beleve in jesus healing people but dont bring him in this mess. there should be a limit on how much people can sue doctors.and sue pill makers and im getting tired of all the ads on tv about sue this pill maker if you had a heartatack if you had taking this drug its total BS...

      March 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  17. Ridiculous

    Liberals bring Jesus into the argument when it is convenient for them, disregard their support for abortion.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • jerry9997

      With liberals, everything is a racist plot aginst minorities so I am surprised that Obama or CNN has not used that argument yet.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • AllThatsLeft

      Like Conservatives don't bring up Jesus and religion when it suits their needs. They talk about an attack on religious teachings while speaking at an NRA event about how abortion is murdering unborn children while at the same time wanting to go to war and bomb thousands of innocent men, women, children, as well as innocent pregnant women with unborn babies. here in America they want to protect the unborn baby but if that child is born with a pre existing condition or illness then it's on its on because they're not going to pay for that childs possible lifetime medical care. They would rather pray for it and say it was God's will. Get over your hypocritical high horse and open your eyes to reality. Health care is not a choice. it is something everyone will need at some point in their lives. I just had rotator cuff surgery, twice, due to a 20ft fall as a firefighter. I went through an 18mos. recovery period and lost 40% use of my right arm. Luckily workmans comp paid for the medical expenses which was over $150,000.00. Not to mention going from nearly $70,000 a year as an Asst. Chief to less than a thousand a month in workmans comp which was the maximum amount. With the lost wages and medical bills that would have cost more than $200,000.00. Any of you could be involved in an accident. I did not plan on falling 20ft. either. How many of you hurt in an accident where workmans comp didn't apply could afford a $200,000 medical bill tomorrow?

      March 31, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Ridiculous

      I'm sorry for your hardship. In case you didn't notice, I'm not arguing against healthcare reform. It clearly is necessary however if Obama was intelligent, he would have more carefully crafted the law with bipartisan support and considered its cost which as a country we cannot afford. Even if the Bush tax cuts expire, that's only $50 billion extra a year and the deficit was nearly a trillion dollars for this year alone.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  18. Michael

    Of course not. Under the GOP's version of health care, Jesus would say "Die suckers, die."

    March 31, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Ridiculous

      Dumb comment

      March 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  19. Robin G. Hoode

    The best summary of Jesus' teaching on poor vs. rich is found in the book, "A Monkey Could Do It: How Wall Street Robs Main Street." It's on Amazon.

    March 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Johnson blackman

    Dinosaurs isn't in the bible . Why?

    March 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Lilith

      They apparently didn't have good healthcare!

      March 31, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Hello

      because the Roman's did not know about them.... and other things like the world is round, the sun is the center of our solar system. that diseases is not about demons... etc. and human sacrifice is stupid.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.