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. Bioartchick

    Merely hoping and praying DOESN'T DO ANYTHING. If you're waiting for stuff to "just happen" you're certifiable.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  2. Jesus

    Did anyone think to just ASK me?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • fofo

      I taught you stopped talking after you were killed.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • John Q. Public

      Millions have, but you never answer except to the ones who you tell to kill their families.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  3. palintwit

    Would jesus be one of the People of Walmart ?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • fofo

      the question to your question is was Jesus a white trash?

      March 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  4. BLT

    "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" – Matthew 25:40

    "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." – Mohandas Gandhi

    I'm a Buddhist, but these seem like words to live by.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • just sayin

      At the judgement people will say they were a good Buddhist and God will have to say begone I never knew you. Budda will not bring you into Gods kingdom, only Jesus can do that.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  5. John

    GOP and the Wall Street boys destroyed America and now they want to destroy Jesus.........

    March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  6. cbaty

    Yes, Jesus would help those who are not able to help themselves. Jesus would expect the ones who are able to work to provide for themselves instead of government handouts at the expense of taxpayers. Jesus would NOT support laziness!

    March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • the doc is in! the preacher is out!

      You're failing to include all those that have a 40/HR a week job, and those who work overtime, and are still unable to afford the $400 a month for individual healthcare. Being in need of healthcare doesn't mean you are lazy! Plain short and simple.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • migeli

      What makes imbeciles believe anyone who wants healthcare is looking for a handout?There are no jobs because of the wealthy who sent them all to China.Stop drinking Fox Newsaide.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • cbaty

      No, thats not what I said. I said the ones who are able to work should work. There are jobs out there, you just have to look for them. You may not get the highest paying job but any job is better than no job. I support helping or subsidizing the ones who are working trying to make it and can't quite afford insurance, food or whatever. But there are 45 million getting food stamps. Thats too much of a burden on taxpayers.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  7. Michael

    I can't say whether Jesus would support it or not. I do know that Jesus loves a sacrificial giver. Jesus offers everything he has. He does not force it on us like the government. The governement is not giving anyone a choice, those who are being forced to buy it and those of us who are being forced to pay for it.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  8. Ashrakay

    I live in a secular country that provides healthcare for everyone. We get great professional service and dirt cheap meds. I can assure you that healthcare has nothing to do with religion or jesus. It's just about human decency and caring for your fellow man.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      As it should be.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Tell your foreign ministry to start gearing up for an influx of American immigrants if the Supremes throw health care back to the tender mercies of the corporations in the US.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Anon

      The secularer founding fathers of the United State are rolling in their graves at the speed of light.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Anon

      The secular founding fathers of the United States are rolling in their graves at near the speed of light.
      Especially Thomas Paine since he actually endorsed that Jesus was myth.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @RichardSRussell, Yeah, my mother is actually visiting from America right now and we made her go to a doctor's visit with our daughter so she could see healthcare done right. Both my brother and I immigrated here from America. Healthcare is one of the big reasons we won't return anytime soon. Crime and education are the other big reasons.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  9. palintwit

    Would jesus say "nascar" when he's really trying to say "nice car" ?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  10. tables are turning!



    March 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • John

      The GOP are not followers of Jesus.....

      March 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Whether you're liberal or conservative, God's wrath is the LAST thing you have to fear.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Steve


      March 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  11. blaqb0x

    I can justify anything with a big book of multiple choice, too.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  12. wawa

    This is a good example of a major media outlet trying to see both sides of a question that should have an obvious answer. The answer to the question "Would Jesus support universal health care?" is as obvious as the question "Is the earth round?" It's sad when CNN and other news organizations don't make honest analyses based on evidence because of the fear of losing their market share. The right wing in this country, let by FOX, Hannity and Rush etc are nothing more than propagandists and have created a parallel universe in which the tea party GOP live. Let's stop taking them seriously.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Anon

      I don't wanna live on this planet anymore.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      But the question was NOT UNIVERSAL health care it was "health care reform" .. big difference. Yes, common sense says universal healthcare all the way.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  13. palintwit

    Would jesus put phony diesel truck exhaust stacks on his Ford F-150 along with 20" spring shackles ?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  14. John McLaugh

    give to caesar what is caesar's

    March 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  15. Wes Scott

    Sheila, it will be a cold day in Hades when every knee shall bow to your god and every person confesses that Jesus is Lord.

    I heard that Jack was Lord – Jack Lord, "Book 'em, Danno!"

    March 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  16. monique

    Jesus wants you to rely on him when it comes to healing not man he's more powerful

    March 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Did Jesus tell you that?
      Every year the news has stories of parents letting thier children die waiting for prayer rather than go to a doctor!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • the doc is in! the preacher is out!

      Great Monique!
      However im sure the first sign of you getting sick you will abandon your prayer and head to the nearest scientific medicine prescribing doctor you can find!
      You're a hypocrite! Get treated for your mental illness already!

      March 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  17. Karon

    There are literally millions of things any American can capitolise on and make a profit. I totally believe in capitolism but I donot believe in capitolising on Insurance and allowing Insurance companies to be capitolist is wrong JUST like it would be wrong to let something that is suppose to be NOT FOR PROFIT like Red Cross to be a capitolist enterprize. Would it ok for the Red Cross to pay shareholders for profits? It is wrong to capitolism on people's health. All Insurance should be non-profit like non-profit and everyone can join in like Girl Scouts AT any time! Its the FOR PROFITS capitolist that have taken over this non profit Assurance and they don't care about helping people who are sick! They are about turning a profit! We need to stop them from being profit companies and insist Insurance be non-profit is the only morally right thing to do. Congress should pass a law that all Insurance Companies MUST BE non-profit because there are plenty of for profit companies we shouldn't be a moral country that doesn't allow profitting from peoples health in any way form or fashion. There shouldn't be any "commerce clause" to hear about it before the Supreme Court! Congress whines ... we can't fix it so 50 million Americans can get health care ... whines and whines. YES you can! Oh yes you can be moral and capitolist too. Make Insurance non profit only we are a moral county! Yes you can fix you lame sorry excuse morons who whine! Give us the assurance that Insurance wont be used to line the pockets of Wall Street! Make Insurance be non profit only- not hold that assuance over our heads that we might get it or we might not!

    March 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • migeli

      You are so right. You said what I would have liked to say.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Karon

      It is Congress that allowed Insurance Companies to be for profit when they are suppose to be non profit like the Red Cross.. Would the Red Cross pay dividends to shareholders. Well, neither should Insurance Companies. It is wrong. They don't have the backbone to fix it? So they put it all in the lap of the Supreme Court and said sorry we don't have the backbone to tell the truth about Insurance being for profit now. So we are going to have to talk about the commerce clause to you and how it is coersion and stuff like that to make you figure out what we Failed to do which is to be moral and not let Insurance Companies be for profit .. we can't fix it cause we don't have the backbone to admit it is wrong to capitolise on people health. Sorry Supreme Court we need you to fix it for us so people will be forced to pay profits to what is suppose to be Non Profit.. (We have the dumbest Congress of all time!) Congress to the Supreme Court ... oh please let it be a real win-win for the Profitable Insurance Companies and Force everyone to give them money to maybe or maybe not fix their health concerns! And please never ask us the hard question which is "Why are insurance companies for profit instead of non profits like the Red Cross?" If they are about health care or are they about profits? Isn't that a conflict of interest with everyones health care in the middle of that conflict? So make Insurance non profit like it suppose to be and there wont be any conflict! Or should we just let the Red Cross start paying dividends to shareholders too and be profitable? Lets just not be a moral society at all!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  18. Ghodsma

    I think Jesus would send Pelosi and her boss to hell.
    He could cure anyone and set up a franchise.

    March 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So what's stopping him, you who know so much of his inner thot processes?

      March 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Are you absolutely certain that you were thinking when you made that statement? It sounds like not much thought went into it at all! Would not god be more likely to send to hell people who fostered two wars against people who had not even threatened us just so they could control more of the world's oil and killed tens of thousands of people in the process?

      Christians have the most perverted, warped senses of right and wrong I have ever witnessed.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      To repeat the same challenge I ask every time you post this content-free pablum: Name one!
      I'm not really expecting an answer this time, either, but I wanted to point out that you have utterly fallen flat on your face in the "put up or shut up" department.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • just sayin

      Once again you are here. One change brought through prayer as requested but to which you have never responded.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:50 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

      March 31, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  20. Appalled

    This has to be one of the dumbest questions of all times. But, leave it to politics! When there never was a Jesus why would anyone ask that question?? Who cares anyway?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Anon

      The religious right have long since highjacked the government.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      In politics, I often ask "What would Jefferson do?".

      In science, I usually go with "What would Carl Sagan do?".

      In football, I ask "What would Vince Lombardi do?".

      I can't think of ANY area of life where I'd give a fig what Jesus would do.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      I still vote the dumbest article to be "5 reasons Christians should love 'Twilight'"


      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.