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. usatruth

    GOP's using Jesus to punk evangelicals and the un-educated for Giant Health Care Insurance.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Anon

    Nope since Jesus is myth and tell that to the kids that suffered agonizing deaths due to insane parents seeking faith healing treatment.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • DoNotWorry

      I don't know where you live, but it is not the United States. This problem is minute and you just want to make a scandal out of nothing. We have worse problems, including a health care/insurance system that is the most expensive on this planet and covering the fewest people.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Anon

      This happened in the United States.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Gus

      DoNotWorry just got PWNED big time. Big time, baby, big time. Good job, Anon.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  3. Jim Skolnik

    It is funny the Press loves to quote Jesus when they think Jesus teachings may agree with their agenda. I could list many things that Jesus taught about and I am sure the Press would not give a hoot about what the Lord taught.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Jackie

      No kidding. Obama has actually made fun of religious people - when he thought no one was listening, of course.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  4. Actraiser

    The question alone is blasphemous. Who are we to to use this question to justify a human enterprise? Use any argument you want to justify, defend, or denounce those things man-made, but never bring the name of our Lord and saviour into the argument as a means to an end. If you want to know what Jesus thinks, I suggest you ask Him.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Christlink

      Amen! Jesus is the Healer. he does need man's help; The Wisdom of Men is FOOLISHESS

      March 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      The question alone may be stupid, but it's not blasphemous. Blasphemy is a victimless crime.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Gus

      Actraiser, problem is, he has never answered when anyone has asked.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  5. Founders1791

    We always see the manipulation and propaganda from the Lame Stream Media promoting STRAW ARGUMENTS in order to promote Socialism through Government, and pathetically 'use the reputations of others' to associate their despotic selfish designs. ABSURD, DISGUSTING, and TRANSPARENT proposition from CNN.


    Slaves on the Plantation of The Democrat Party is hardly moral or ethical. Actual 'American' thinking and culture is based on CHARITY and PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT.

    The ESSENCE of Christian Faith and the Teachings of Jesus IS FREE WILL.......blasphemous what CNN is doing here!

    March 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Jackie


      March 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • usatruth

      hey Founders1791, why don't you blame on Christian Church corruptor allows GOPocrisy enter the church entrance.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Founders1791


      Lay off the booze this early.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • usatruth

      Founders1791, you must be a blind religious person. How about GOP support the BUSH TAX CUT to eliminate human right in American by bringing jobs to Socialist China and exploit sweat shop and abuse human right.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • kormallain

      The solution for this problem is a balance between social programs and free market. The key word is balance here. Right now, the scales are way off. Through out history, goverments which did not achieve this balance failed. As soon as you figure out, that you need both, Left wing and Right wing, you fill stop flying around in a circle.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'Founders1791' contains a variety of common fallacies, including instances of the ad hominem fallacy and the the circ-umstantial ad hominem fallacy, as well as Straw Man arguments and non sequiturs.


      March 31, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  6. noyourgod

    Who cares what a mythical space ghost cares about a political matter?

    March 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • kormallain

      It is sad, when you have to call " Going to a doctor", a political issue.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  7. Martin


    If you knew who Jesus was you would stop dragging him in to such issues. . . Go back to some more Trayvon stories.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  8. Reality


    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by many contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

    March 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Christlink

      It is the the fool who says there is no God:)

      March 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Reality

      The illiteracy of the simple preacher man aka Jesus, as per some contemporary experts:

      From Professor Bruce Chilton's commentary in his book, Rabbi Jesus, An Intimate Biography, p. 99,
      "What Luke misses is that Jesus stood in the synagogue as an illiterate m–amzer (pp. 98-102) in his claim to be the Lord's anointed".

      Note: Luke 4: 16 is a single attestation. No where else in the NT does it say Jesus could read thereby making said passage historically unreliable. (Luke 4:16-24) has been compared to a number of other passage and found to be equivalent with the exception of Luke 4: 16 which is the only passage in the list of equivalents that mentions reading:

      http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?t-itle=022_Prophets_Own_Country (leave out the hyphen in "t-itle" if you access the reference)

      1) GThom. 31 & P. Oxy. 1.31
      (2) Mark 6:1-6a = Matt 13:53-58
      (3) Luke 4:16-24
      (4) John 4:44

      Professor JD Crossan notes that Jesus was illiterate coming from a landless peasant background, initially a follower of John the Baptist. e.g. The Excavation of Jesus (with Professor Reed), pp 30-31..

      The question of Jesus's literacy has also been much discussed by the Jesus Seminar and others and they note that references in the Gospels to Jesus reading and writing may well be fictions.

      The only Gospel reference to Jesus writing is John 8:6 in the Pericope Adulterae, widely considered a later addition, where it is not even clear he is forming letters in the dust, and the Greek "εγραφεν" could equally mean he was drawing.
      Luke 2: 41-52, the twelve year old Jesus in the temple- As per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 275, " the episode is unhistorical" (again, a single attestaion). See also http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php?ti-tle=433_Jesus_at_Twelve

      It is very unfortunate that Jesus was illiterate for it resulted in many gospels and epistles being written years after his death by non-witnesses. This resulted in significant differences in said gospels and epistles and with many embellishments to raise Jesus to the level of a deity to compete with the Roman gods and emperors. See Raymond Brown's book, An Introduction to the New Testament, (Luke 4:16 note on p. 237) for an exhaustive review of the true writers of the gospels and epistles.

      Of course, Muslims believe that Mohammed was also illiterate. This way, they can claim that the only way he could have received the "angelic", koranic passages of death to all infidels and Islamic domination of the globe by any means, was orally since he could not read and write.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Astounded

      One day, perhaps many years from now, perhaps sooner than you might think, your time on earth is going to come to an end. At that time, whether you now believe it or not, you will appear before the throne of the ONE you so carelessly dismiss today. What will you say then?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Steve

      My friend, you hit it right on the money!!! Couldn't be said any better.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Astounded' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager.


      March 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Horus

    CNN: Because when I want opinions on problems of national importance, I consult a 2000 year old iron age Palestinian. Seriously CNN no wonder you've lost so many viewers this last month.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  10. mfx3

    Don't you know, Jesus doesn't have a mind of his own. He just blindly endorses whatever conservative evangelicals need him to endorse. His name gets rubber-stamped on everything they do.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  11. Jackie

    I don't know for sure, and I don't want to speak for Jesus, but I wouldn't guess Jesus would think highly of abortion. But I could be wrong.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • mfx3

      You shouldn't speak for Jesus. He certainly doesn't speak through you.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jackie

      Ummm, I think I made it pretty clear that I was not speaking for Jesus. Can you read? Or did they fail to teach you that at liberal school?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • BABOOOOM!!!

      Oh Jackie!
      You were certainly guessing what he would think!
      You're such an idiot you dont even understand your own comments!
      I guess being as dumb as you are makes it easy to be a devout Christian!

      March 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  12. Jackie

    Different views of what Jesus would do when Jesus was the Son of God and things were different back then. Just touching Jesus healed a woman as we see people today like Saint Rick Santorm as people touch him, Prophet Rick Perry who steals and then Governor George W. Bush was told by God to be President. Get the picture of the nuts. Churches have become businesses and those in charge are looking to be wealthy and this has not one thing to do with religion. Dick Cheney pushed his way up on the list for a heart transplant and all medical expenses paid in full by taxpayers. Cheney has had the taxpayer foot his medical cost for the 33 years he's been having heart attacks and not one religious leader said a word about Jesus. Many law makers learn they have prostate cancer and getting the best health care paid by taxpayers and not one has said a word about what would Jesus do.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Jackie

      So much for leaving politics out of it, huh?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  13. rousch15

    How much did Christ charge for a healing?

    Thank you and good night.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  14. John

    Would the easter bunny support healthcare? How about Norse or Buddah?
    What a dumb article.
    When I see this kind of thing in the banner position on the CNN website, I am relieved beause that means nothing important happened today.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  15. palintwit

    Would jesus own an autographed copy of Sarah Palin's crosshairs poster ?

    March 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • usatruth

      LIPSTICK ON THE PIG would be an important subject in the bible.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  16. Eddie Hurley

    he didn't like give away programs he said if you don't work you should not eat

    March 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Interested48

      I'm curious. Where is that exactly in the bible???????

      March 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • rousch15

      Read 1 Thessalonians 3:10 and you will realize that those are Paul's words, not Christ's. You also forget that the landowner paid the same wage to the men who worked only worked an hour as opposed to those who worked the entire day because they were not given the o p p o r t u n i t y to work.

      Does a liberal have to teach you everything about your own religion, sir?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • migeli

      There was no such thing as "jobs"in those days.Jobs are a thing of the past two centuries.Read your history!

      March 31, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Susie

      And if you understood the Bible, you would realize that first, you referenced the wrong verse (2 Thessalonians 3:10 is the correct verse), secend you would realize that the landowner decided how much he would pay the workers,and how he would use his own money. The power was not given to some govt authority. Third, you would realize the other verse (Matthew 20) you reference has nothing to do with landowners or workers, but is a parable to describe how man recieves the same salvation whether he toiled for a long time under the old covenant or was saved when Jesus came. Lastly if you want to take away a verse from this parable in Matthew 20, maybe this one would be more telling: "Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?"

      March 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Gus

      Love me some buy-bull quotes on the weekends:

      Numbers 31:17-18

      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  17. Horus

    Singlepayer. Government. Option. Anything else is just p*ssing in the wind or a handout to the insurance companies.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  18. Of course he wouldn't

    Everyone knows Jesus hated communism. Everyone should be able to keep their money for them to use! He said it himself, "For the government should not redistribute wealth and all the poor people shall forever go to hell." Seriously guys, everyone knows Jesus was a small government man. I don't know when this country went the wrong direction with this whole liberal everyone should buy healthcare bullcrap. We should go back to Jesus' teachings of small government and no universal healthcare.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Interested48

      I also remember him saying "Be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate."

      March 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • DoNotWorry

      I suspect you are the only one who knows Jesus was a "small government man." He was the Son of God and gave out free help and healthcare to everyone without asking whether they "deserved" it. He also said "give to Caesar what is Caesar's." You have never read the Bible beyond a verse or two.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • migeli

      He never said any such thing and he was a socialist.Anyway "would I trust God or the Government?"GOD does not deliver the mail or issue my social security checks so I'll take this government anyday.All I get from God is hurricanes,tornadoes,and earthquakes.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • derandlu

      I am curious to know the basis of your belief that He hated communists. In my Bible Jesus hates sin, period.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  19. palintwit

    Would jesus take better care of his teeth than the average birther ?

    March 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  20. migeli

    It's the insurance companies stupid! Do we really need them? They are behind all this talk against universal healthcare.I'll be lucky if this gets printed.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Rafi

      Hey! It got printed!

      March 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
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About this blog

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.