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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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“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. metalbagabon

    Jesus cured people for free, unlike the corporate pigs that heath care have become, they care nothing about affordable health health care, the bonuses they get at the expense of people making barely living wages are really sickening, not saying health care should not be paid for but the profits from not being regulated are just plain greedy

    March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Gus

      Try praying to Jesus to cure cancer and see where that gets you.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And, Gus, for more grins and giggles, google "god hates amputees".

      March 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • metalbagabon

      Jesus isn't on the earth right now to cure people, we are at the mercy of the health care people, and unlike Jesus who could cure anything health care people only do so much no matter how much they get paid

      March 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Truthfully

      Corporate pigs? Well you don't have to be rich to help the poor. How about you give up a few things and help out those around you instead of pointing out the greed of others. You are only accountable for your own actions.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Leo

      Revelation 21

      1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
      5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

      March 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  2. Michael West

    .one thing for sure... the Bible doesn't say that Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead.. AND THEN DEMANDED MONEY..I know?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Michael West

      ..it should read.." .one thing for sure... the Bible doesn't say that Jesus healed the sick and raised the dead.. AND THEN DEMANDED MONEY.."

      March 31, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  3. Cheryl Jefferies

    Jesus would care. I'm a Christian and I care. But, Jesus never said any government had the right to steal, at legal gun-point, from its workers to give to anyone. Jesus told the rich young man: Go home, sell all you own and give to the poor. Then, come and follow Me." The rich young man could not bring himself to do that. And, Jesus was saddened. However, Jesus did not even remotely mention forcing that rich young man to do as He asked. The rich young man had a choice. And, while I cannot speak for Jesus, I seriously doubt He'd condone something like ObamaCare which contains that nasty little "smoking gun" of making me pay for someone else to commit murder (abortion). Somehow, I just don't think He'd be real thrilled with THAT. Especially when it causes me to violate my conscience and, if I do it, will condemn my soul to Hell.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Exhiled

      Jesus also condemned selfishness.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Gus

      Cheryl, try praying to Jesus to cure cancer. Bet he'll do everything he can there, for free, but nothing will be cured.

      Jesus doesn't exist and can't provide healthcare. Try praying to Jesus instead of going to a doctor next time you are seriously ill or hurt, and see what happens.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • migeli

      How does your concience feel about the non-aborted poor who have no food, jobs or healthcare? Just suffer and die?That makes a lot of sense.I 'd rather be aborted and go straight to heaven.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Truthfully

      "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

      If you don't believe the gospel you won't understand anything about what Christ would or would not support.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Truthfully

      Cheryl is correct but, unfortunately, too many people can not understand.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Cheryl Jefferies

      Gus, I've prayed for lots of things in my life and you know what? They've all been given to me. Not always right that instant or even the next day or the next week. But, they've been given. Ask any doctor or nurse (I'm an RN). They'll all tell you that cures have occurred that simply cannot be accounted for in any other way than by prayer and miracles. But, nothing I say will change you. Maybe my prayers will work. Who knows? Guess I'll just have to try. Blessings on you, Gus.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Gus

      Cheryl, your post actually presents evidence that god doesn exist and doesn't answer your prayers.

      Care to try again? Give a specific example of something you prayed for that happened, and explain how you know that god caused it.

      Then ask god to stop all the suffering from all those diseases making kids suffer, and see where that gets you. Nowhere, every time.

      God doesn't exist. Stop pushing your religious delusions on the rest of us.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  4. Lilith

    Would Jesus support CNN's Belief Blog?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Name one!

      Oh, oh, I've got one. It causes the clock to display a number from the future.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Templeton Foundation Prayer Study

      Results: In the two groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred
      in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those
      who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% confidence interval 0.92-1.15). Complications occurred in
      59% (352/601) of patients certain of receiving intercessory prayer compared with the 52%
      (315/604) of those uncertain of receiving intercessory prayer (relative risk 1.14, 95% confidence
      interval 1.02-1.28). Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups.

      Conclusions: Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from
      CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of
      complications.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • One one

      Atheists don't tell children and other living things that god sends them to h e l l to be tortured forever for not believing as they do.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Gus

      RSR and One One, great responses.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • just sayin

      @Russel
      You are here. One thing as requested

      March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      @one one = you just did.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      @gus guess that make you an ass hole

      March 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  6. Exhiled

    Under these conditions, Jesus would have been crucified again but by the conservatives in this country. Instead of "INRI" posted as a sign, they would have the word "Liberal".

    March 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  7. downinfront

    I come here to witness the mental gymnastics of the funny fundies.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Anon

      The cognitive dissonance of the fundies make my brain hurt.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  8. David R. Scott

    AMERICAN CHRISTIANS ARE NOT CHRISTIAN AT ALL. THEY ARE GREEDY, LYIN, RACISTS BIGOTS. NOT VERY CHRISTIAN.
    ROMNY DOES'T NOT CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO THE POOR. HE IS PUT TO HELP THE FROGGIN RICH GET EVEN RICHER ON THE BACKS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR OF AMERICA... VOTE ALL REPUBLICANS AND TEA PARTY MORONS OUT IN 2012. THEY ARE OUT TO DESTROY AMERICA SO THE KOCK SUCKER BROTHERS CAN HAVE MORE1

    March 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Leo

      Welcome America to the Atheist Hate Fest!!

      9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  9. Mike STL USA

    Really CNN? Jesus? REALLY!?! Who cares about the fifty million that can't afford health insurance. They still get taken care of. You get hurt and don't have insurance....bite the bullet and get stuck with hospital bills your whole life. That's what you get for not having insurance and taking care of yourself like a responsible citizen. Same thing with Katrina...."Oh, you didn't have flood insurance? Good Luck!!!"

    March 31, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Mike STL USA

      The same people that can't afford health insurance are the same ones that CAN afford diamond studded money clips and $100 Nike Shoes....as an inner-city high school teacher, I've seen it a hundred times.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Try selling those shoes to pay for your liver transplant, and you'll see why we doubt that you're a MATH teacher.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • metalbagabon

      I would have to cut into my grocery money to have health insurance, and if I had another financial emergency too bad

      March 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Mike STL USA

      Oops...can't buy a new liver.....maybe I should have been more responsible....too late.....goodbye world. Done and Done.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Ezo

      One of the dumbest comments I've ever seen...Congrats!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • BLT

      That's your answer to 50 million of your fellow citizens and human beings? "Sorry you're down and out. I'm not going to bother with understanding the reasons why. But if you get sick, you deserve to die." Nice. That's about the most heartless and disgraceful thing I've read in a long time.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  10. krivka

    Why should his opinion matter? Check his birth certificate. 1. He is dead, (if he ever lived). 2. If he did live, he was't born here.
    Get real.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  11. CCCDaughter

    This is a Christian Organization that helps Americans; Christian Appalachian Project is a Kentucky-based, interdenominational, non-profit Christian organization “committed to serving people in need in Appalachia by providing physical, spiritual and emotional support through a wide variety of programs and services.”

    As the 15th largest human services charity in the nation, Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) has been committed to improving the lives of Appalachian residents since 1964.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Denise

      CCCD is spam.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • migeli

      Do they provide any healthcare or is that up to God?Just asking.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  12. carroll poovey

    Jesus said "love thy neighbor as thyself"; I'd also like to point out that IF the US is exceptional in any way, it is because the government is "we the people". Those who say they don't trust government, but who trust the "market", are people who trust greed and self interest over the greater good. The government may be dysfunctional in some ways, but the marketplace is sociopathic, interested only in profit at all costs.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Gus

      Actually, I'd say your god is sociopathic, and that's a mild description of him. Good thing he doesn't exist.

      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 4:28 pm |
    • Mark Johnson

      Absolutely spot on, Carroll! You make a succinct and well reasoned statement that should expanded on & distributed nationwide.

      Cheers,

      Mark

      March 31, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Dolly

      I am sure there were some folk remedies in Biblical times, but Jesus relied on miracles to cure people. He used his miracles on the poor and preached a rich man could no more get into heaven than a camel can get through a needle's eye. He over turned the money changer's tables in the temple which is why he was crucified. Thus Jesus would not be in favor of for profit healthcare but instead would treat the poor and expect the rich to help pay for it so they could show they were deserving of getting into heaven. In other words he would be in favor of a single payer system based on the Jesus Biblical stories.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  13. palintwit

    Would jesus drive a dually to the nascar track on Sunday ?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  14. migeli

    Down with health insurance companies. They are just middlemen making outrageous profits and are against universal single payer healthcare.Why do we need them involved.The government can be trusted far better than them.I have never had a problem with my social security,medicare or the U.S. Postal Service.Obamacare doesn't go far enough but it's a start.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  15. palintwit

    Would jesus still have 'rabbit ears' on his TV ? With pieces of aluminum foil ?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  16. JCMars

    It's nice to see all the anti-Christian bigots out in full force and away from the video games for a few hours.

    I agree with those who think this is a stupid article. CNN needs to find better people to make stuff up. If I wanted made up stuff I could just go over to FoxNews.com and find out the latest star without makeup or see the latest Romney promotion.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • migeli

      Do it and leave important "stuff"up to us.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Not everyone who disagrees with you is a bigot. People are so quick to label others as bigots in these discussions. I don't believe in god because there is no proof he exists. I don't believe he doesn't because there is no proof that he doesn't. How does that make me a bigot?

      March 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • QC

      So funny to describe atheist as 'bigots'... LOL

      March 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  17. Doug

    Are you people kidding??

    IS NEWS REALLY THAT SLOW????

    March 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • James D. Rhodes, LPC

      Of course he would!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  18. CCCDaughter

    For God's sake, doesn't CNN have more to report than whether a fictional character, would or would not support Obamacare. How about reporting on how many children in Appalachia go to bed hungry every night. What are Americans going to do about the Appalachian children? Wake up to reality!

    March 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Scott

      I'm not even religious but are you denying Jesus existed, calling him a "fictional character"? You ma'am are clearly dumb.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Anon

      Welcome to 'MERICA the land of the zombie Jeebus freaks.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Scott, it is readily possible to argue that Jesus didn't exist but is, in fact, an amalgam of folk legends and myths assembled long after the fact and after all the eyewitnesses were dead, much like the legend of King Arthur or the American myth of Paul Bunyan. There are ample historical precedents for this, and virtually everything claimed for Jesus was also previously claimed for half a dozen "son of god" crucified saviors from earlier Middle Eastern cultures. So, no, it's not far-fetched at all.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Anon

      Here are two non-apologetic biblical scholars that agree with Jesus as myth.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOj51_tY4_E&w=640&h=360]

      March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  19. Stevo

    I would think God would prefer kind a atheist to hateful christian.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Leo

      Look at all the Atheist Posts and tell me how many seem kind to you.... be honest..

      March 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      atheism is not healthy for children and other living things,

      March 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  20. Scott

    Of course Jesus would support universal healthcare. What's funny is that most right-wingers are Christian and believe in Jesus Christ, and yet don't support it. The liberals, many of whom aren't even religious, think it's the right thing to do. Funny how that works, isn't it!?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Higs

      Well yeah, why do you think CNN ran this silly article?

      March 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Cheryl Jefferies

      Jesus would not support slavery in any form. And ObamaCare is just one more form of slavery, tying all of us more and more firmly to government control. It also contains a nasty little smoking gun that forces all of us to pay for abortion (murder). And, while I cannot speak for Jesus, I have serious doubts He'd be in favor of THAT!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:44 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.