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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.

kateslate
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. whos to say?

    SATAN DOES NOT EXIST! IT IS PEOPLE WHO ARE EVIL!
    MOSTLY GREEDY PREJUDICE REPUBLICANS HIDING BEHIND A FABRIC THEY CALL CHRISTIANITY!

    March 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • AtheistAndy

      Agreed, but why won't CNN let me post any other remarks. No profanity , what's up?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • dudley0415

      Well, who's to say?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      AtheistAndy, CNN has a set of about 30 forbidden words that will get your comment whacked. Unfortunately, these 30 words are checked by an idiot nannybot that gets triggered even if the forbidden word is buried inside another, like the female breast hiding in the Const¡tuition or the excrement in your sp00n. A little creative spelling allows you to dodge these.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Karon

      Republicans give God and Real Christians a bad name. I am a Chrisian. I follow Christ. I would not let anyone die. Jesus was a healer NOT an insurance salemen trying to make a profit. All insurance should be non profit otherwise it is wrong. That is the problem. When insurance became a for profit instead of a non profit like the Red Cross. Noone should be without good health assurance... Insurance is wrong to be a for profit companies like AIG that capitolize on people trying to get assurance they will be helped if they get sick. Its that simple.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Atheist Andy,

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-oon
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  2. TheTruth72

    There were times where Jesus had compassion upon people He came across and healed them. But every time someone approached Jesus for healing, He ALWAYS healed them. He never denied someone who asked for healing. He still heals today. Here's a video to prove it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWu3Rc9MbMM

    March 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Boast Busters

      "He never denied someone who asked for healing."
      - Of course not... in your edited comic book superhero story. You have NO IDEA what went on with that guy, or even if he truly existed.

      "He still heals today."
      - BOSH!

      March 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Anon

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q16KpquGsIc&w=640&h=360]

      March 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Sue

      "here's a video to prove it" -ROFL. Yes, sure, video was commonly in use 2000 years ago. And we know how well religious witch doctor cures and praying work: generally, not at all.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  3. yes

    Jesus would support health care being universal. But it really doesn't matter what he would support. It is inhumane to do otherwise.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  4. Sheila

    If everyone would humble themselves, turn from their sins, and Love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and love each other, confessing Jesus as their Lord, God would heal our land and everyone in it. Otherwise, we are living our lives chaotically trying to patch every ill socially, politically, and medically with human band-aids which have poor adhesive qualities and fail to be corruption proof.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Horus

      Wow do you actually believe that? Naivete and self-delusion knows no bounds.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Sue

      Sheila, how does believing in your fairy tale sky-daddy solve anything?

      Answer: it doesn't, and actually often makes things worse. One pair of hands working to solve a problem, or one doctor or nurse at work healing, does more good than 10 million pairs of hands clasped in prayer.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • migeli

      Don't hold your breath waiting for God to heal everything.The only things that have'nt failed me are social security,medicare,and the U.S. Postal Service,which are exactly the same three programs that right wing religious fanatics want to wipe out.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Bhoss

      i dislike you are you serious? you should like a child saying "if you are good then Santa will bring you presents"

      March 31, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      RIIIIIIIIGHT!

      If Christian action matched Christian rhetoric, then we would not even be having this discussion. Most Christians have no clue what Jesus taught, or what he meant. If Christians were going to help the less fortunate, then they would already be doing it rather than trying to interpret Jesus' words.

      Instead, too many Christians, especially those Teabaggers in the GOP, are of the mindset that if you cannot afford insurance, then it is because you are too lazy to get a good paying job so you can provide it for yourself.

      There is a word for the difference between Christian rhetoric and Christian action – HYPOCRISY!

      March 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • joe

      she's right! just take a look at all the most religious countries in the world – they are also the most secure, well cared for, and most educated!

      oh wait, I'm sorry.... Its the opposite of that.

      The most religious countries in the world tend to have the highest unemployment, the worst health care, and the lowest education. Not that things like "facts" have never been known to have much effect on religious people. This is even more true once you exclude countries that have the windfall of immense oil wealth.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  5. Seriously?

    This article was purely meant to be provacative. There is no news here at all.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  6. RogerE

    One of the major issues is that we do not value or respect lower paid / skilled work. Minimum wage is a significant problem and until we have a more equitable financial system where a 40 hour work week is properly valued regardless of whether one is flipping burgers or trading numbers is cyberspace, nothing will change. We can afford to provide healthcare to everyone, it's just that we choose not to. There is personal responsibility to maintain a healthy lifestyle but there is also a community responsibility to care for those unfortunate enough to get a disease through no fault of their own. This can happen to ANYONE. Secondly we have to stop demonizing government. It's not perfect but it's the system we apparently want. Democracy! The government is made up of people, not aliens. Lastly, we are living in the 21st century, not the 1st, or the 18th. The world is different now and needs different solutions rather than those of decades or centuries ago.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Terry

      Define "properly valued", if not defined by the market? If someone can support a family by flipping burgers, you wouldn't be able to afford that burger. And have you noticed most people "flipping burgers" are high school kids?

      March 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  7. whos to say?

    Being an atheist is not for the faint of heart!
    Religion is for weaklings in need of a crutch!

    March 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Sue

      I agree.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Truer words were never spoken or written!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  8. paul cos

    most people think that jesus was the greatest american that ever lived..and he was born in texas,that about sums it up when talking about americans and jesus.Lets face it,if jesus stood behind you in line waiting to get on a plane to new york,you would probably ask the TSA to see if he was on the no fly list...Wake up idiots jesus wasnt a blonde haired blue eyed man,he was a jew living in the country you religious republicans would love to bomb into the stone age....YOU have no idea what jesus was,what he thought or what he liked..you live in a fantasy land created to justify you guns,you hatred and stupidity.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  9. Horus

    "To pay for my screen, I be needin' mo green."

    – Jesus "The Big T" Christ

    March 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Message to Jesus: Michael Corleone had Mo Green assassinated as he was getting a massage.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  10. Bhoss

    anyone who actually read is a d-bag. does it matter what one persons thought of of what another person may have thought matter? whomever's idea it was to write this babble is an idiot, and you are all idiots for bothering to read it.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  11. GOD'S SPEAKING!

    anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Bhoss

      stupid....

      March 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • GOD'S SPEAKING!

      Thats what the bible says! Stupid or not!

      March 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bob

      What the bible also says (since you've picked and chosen, I will too) is that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes your sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Please, stop referencing that Christian book of nasty, AKA the bible, as a guide to, well, anything.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other supersti-tions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      March 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Oh there you are Bob!

      You are resplendent with the fragrance of burnt offerings and the ghosts of amputated limbs. What do you say to a drowning amputee? Bob! Bob!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  12. Grampa

    Jesus was the ultimate liberal. He would have supported health care reform and probably pointed out where it did not go far enough. The picture above raises a better question, however. How is it that a man born in Africa is depicted as a brown-haired Caucasian?

    March 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  13. You_Assume_Jesus_Exists

    Jesus and Gods (all 50+ of them) are as mythical as MDs that arent in it for the $$. If taxes pay for the military, fire and police, why shouldn't they pay for healthcare? I would argue that protection should begin within a citizen's body and not at their borders.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      50? There are tens of thousands. Man created god in his own image and never knew when to quit.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  14. Jae, Owings Mills, MD.

    I usually hate bringing religion into the public sphere, but since we are talking about Jesus, all I can think about when considering Universal Health care is the following passage from Matthew, Chapter 25, Verse 40 (KJV):

    "And the King shall answer and say unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' "

    For or against health care, let each of us take responsibility for our vote and be judge by them when we meet our maker.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  15. Anon

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28PjVaW4kKI&w=640&h=360]

    March 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • Karon

      Christians are not delusional simply for the fact that they believe in something tangible. That tagible is Holy Bible which claims to be "Word of God" on things. Now that book has been around for 1000s of years and there are even some stored in museums. So to suggest they are delusional is wrong because they have that book that has stood the test of time to show they have something they are basing their thoughts on. Therefore: They cannot be thought of as being "delusional" when something like that exists. Furthermore some of the things told in that book has been proven to have happen. Lastly others historians in both distant past and the more recent past have told that the things spoken of in that book has happen.
      Therefore if Christians are to be considered "delusional" then historians would have to be included with the "delusional' as well.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Anon

      Three words: Forced childhood indoctrination,
      It's either believe or suffer.
      Thank goodness I abandoned this fcked up desert blood cult.

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

      The Iliad and the Odyssey have been around even longer than the Bible, and they tell me to believe in Zeus. Are YOU convinced?

      March 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  16. DoNotWorry

    Faux Christians watch Faux News.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  17. Horus

    I be needin' mo coverage for me homies and me to make my crib the dope.

    – Jesus

    March 31, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  18. GOD'S SPEAKING!

    It is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle, than it will be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god!

    March 31, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • john

      God wants you to be rich, so you have to stop whining.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  19. dudley0415

    Interesting that CNN links the legislation of a single nation with the universal faith in an eternal god.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  20. bk

    What a ridiculous question for a secular news organization to ask. It's just this sort of religeous clap trap that keeps us cobbled in this country. If you think it's about Jesus, just travel through the bible belt and look at the poverty. Look at the young people strung out on meth and tell me about Jesus. Condoleezza Rice said to the people of New Orleans, "Jesus is always on time." the ruling class always says that. Maybe we could just learn spirituals and make the day go by faster. Vote Obama or Mitt happens!

    March 31, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Sheila

      Oh you so do no understand that people on earth rejected God as their authority and so the ruler on earth currently is Satan himself. And until every person bows their knee to God and confesses Jesus is Lord, the chaos on this planet is going to continue and grow worse. As God tells in prophecy, evil will be allowed to fully mature on this earth. The people rejected God, chose what was wrong and they are going to get just what they live by.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • child

      Sheila, when I was a child I believed as a child. And it appears you are still ... a child.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:42 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.