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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. GOD'S SPEAKING!

    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "NON-PROFIT CHURCH"!

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • barnbldr

      Apparently you have never examined the way Jehovah's Witnesses are financed. Everybody that works within their organization is a volunteer.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • GOD'S SPEAKING!

      Jehovah's Witness have been band from several countries for embezzling money from followers! Look it up!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • just sayin

      Jw's are a cult and incorrectly labeled Christian, they aren't. They would be banned, not band.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • barnbldr

      Jehovah's witnesses make no collections. Any donations made are voluntary. And those seeking to ban Jehovah's Witnesses have often lied in order to support their position. For example, despite many experts testifying otherwise, including a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, Russia continues to label them as extremist.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Leo

      Spewing lies is all you seem to be good for.

      How many churches have you visited and looked at their book keeping.

      Non Profit means non Profit, yes people can hold jobs within the organization, but they must track everything just as a for profit comany would.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • barnbldr

      Jehovah's Witnesses do not fit the definition of a cult. A cult is a secretive organization. You can find out anything you want about Jehovah's Witnesses, all you have to do is ask. The publicize what they believe in the Watchtower and in their door to door ministry. And if you decide you no longer want to be one, you can leave any time you want. Not a cult. They are an internationally recognized religion active in over 235 countries

      March 31, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • barnbldr

      Jehovah's Witnesses are Christian. If you took the time to check out their website you would find they are in the middle of a worldwide campaign to invite others to the commemoration of the lord's evening meal. The memorialization of Jesus sacrifice.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      Dr. Russel ran his scam out of New York where the headquarters and end of the rainbow is still located. JW's do not accept Jesus as the Son of God,second person of the Trinity, essential doctrine to Christianity. JW's are not Christians.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • barnbldr

      They do accept Jesus as the Son of God just as he said he was. You're finally correct in something in that they do not accept the trinity. Of course you won't find anywhere that Jesus taught he was equal to God either.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  2. barnbldr

    Since Jesus referred to the wicked one, Satan, as "the ruler of the world" or its "prince"(John 12:31) he would have nothing to do with the decisions made in ANY political system. The example used in the article of "Pay back Caesar's things to Caesar" is a classic example of him staying out of a political dispute by elevating worship of God to a primary position above politics.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  3. clearfog

    We wouldn't need health care reform because Jesus could cure everyone with faith healing. I read it in the Bible.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  4. BW

    Jesus is dead, was certainly not a god, and who cares anyway?
    What you think matters more.
    Move on with your lives and vote!

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Anon

      "The notion that faith in Christ is to be rewarded by an eternity of bliss, while a dependence upon reason, observation and experience merits everlasting pain, is too absurd for refutation, and can be relieved only by that unhappy mixture of insanity and ignorance, called 'faith'." Robert Green Ingersoll, The Gods

      March 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  5. Roberto

    Jesus would NOT support healthcare. He wouldn't have to. He'd just heal everyone himself.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  6. Michael Knight

    First of all, we are created in the image of God. Our Heavenly Father expects all of us to be responsible for our health. Since we're made in his image, he commands us to eat right, get plenty of exercise and rest. Jesus would be against the mandated health care, because this government law makes people lazy. It's sickening to watch people look to the White House to help us in everything. Yes,....Jesus is against anything that makes people lazy. What I can't stand is that this generation has developed -the government can wipe my butt mentality. So__my advice to all of the leeches; Stop feeling sorry for yourself and learn how to stay healthy without cryng to Obama. Obama has no right playing Doctor. Jesus Christ would definitely oppose this Adolph Hitler law.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • mikala

      You are a pitiful soul.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • migeli

      JESUS never said any of what you just quoted.He would say though"throw these insurance companies oyt of the healthcare business so that rates will go down."Why is it that professed believers in Jesus are all hipocrites.Jesus was a socialist and would have been for universal healthcare.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  7. Pauli

    Who cares?!? Are we really so dumb that we care what Jesus would think about anything. The World is so far from anything he could possibly imagine that we might as well as if Yoda would support healthcare reform. Would Bambi support healthcare reform?! WOULD SUPERMAN?

    March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  8. longshot

    jesus would support wars, attacking iran, letting people die because they didn't get health insurance, shooting 17 year old kids with skittles, bombing villages, gitmo...isn't that what the good "Christians" say?

    March 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  9. lesliecgriffith

    For those that choose to post comments mocking our God: "And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber." 2 Peter 2:2-3

    Now for my comment: Jesus created the design of our social order, which includes church and government. I believe that the church should be caring for the poor and not the government.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      Prove that god exists. You cannot but for 2-5000 year old hearsay and story books. You cannot prove anything, therefore he does not exist.

      /win

      March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
      • lesliecgriffith

        I guess George Washington never existed either right?

        March 31, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Kevin

      Then, sir, your church is doing an incredibly ****** job! People die everyday because of lack of basic health care and preventative services. You talk the talk, my friend, but as usual there is no one walking.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
      • lesliecgriffith

        Not a sir, but thanks anyway. Yes, our world is not perfect. I didn't say the church is doing all that is should, I said the church SHOULD be taking care of the poor. Read before you speak.

        March 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Anon

      Act like cultural Shintoists and we atheists would leave Christians alone.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
      • lesliecgriffith

        My brother, Atheists have to believe in something, so not really atheists, and if God didn't scare you so much I don't think you would be so worked up.

        March 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • mikala

      That is your problem and your belief. Governments are designed to help their citizens in matters that affect the whole community. Health care falls within those parameters. Your problem is you want your belief to be what runs our politics and that is why we hafe a separation of church and state. All churches even yours! And if you believed like you profess you would understand Christ would favor health care reform totally in fact he would want a single payer system.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  10. palintwit

    Would jesus live on the bayou, shooting 'gators and riding around in an airboat ?

    March 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Jim Weix

    Of course Jesus would support national health care. It is only the people that will be going to Hell that don't support it. May they die soon. I hope I'm there when they are at the Pearly Gates trying to buy their way in.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      there is no hell. Prove that there is. You cannot therefore there is not.

      /win

      March 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  12. Anon

    Christians aborted their minds in the name of zombie Jeebus.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  13. Michelle

    What a silly question and an equally silly article. Jesus came to save us from our sins. He had the power to heal people, and did, but that was not the main reason he came. The man in the Book of Mark was not mentally ill. He was demon possessed. And Jesus would absolutely NOT support abortion, which is the killing of the very life God put inside the woman! My husband and I don't have health insurance - lost it on election day '08 when hubby lost his job of 23 yrs, which is pretty ironic - but we don't want the government to pay for it or tell us what insurance to use. Besides, health insurance is a great big band aid for what is really wrong - which is skyrocketing health care costs. Those need to be regulated and brought down to a decent level.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • migeli

      AN I to understand you don't want government involved but skyrocketing costs need to be regulated?Who do you think should be doing that?Trust the government as long as we can keep it from being corrupted by insurance companies which is what we have let happen.We are the government.Throw the insurance companies out of the healthcare business.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  14. wcott

    Why support health care when you can heal the sick and cure the blind with a mere touch?

    March 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  15. Larry

    The government didn't have to be directly involved in health care when I was in school (70 years ago). Hospitals were run by non-profit organizations primarily supported by donations and volunteers to cover those who could not pay their own way. I can remember when health related advertising of any kind was discouraged as being non professional and rarely seen.
    As time passed, big business seen a tremendous opportunity to make money on health care and gradually made deals to eventually put most non-profits out of business while using their good names to attract business. Along with that, came media advertising expense and the need to assure huge profits for their share holders and support business management overhead which was not previously a part of health care. Our government has passed legislation to require all people to be responsible for their own family's health care. Now the question should be " can the government require responsible individuals who pay for their own health care, pay for the health care of the freeloaders?" This is now the situation in the U.S. Those legitimately unable to pay for their care without help are not considered freeloaders. I consider those who can and do self-insure to be the worst freeloaders.

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

      The government already forces those of us who pay for our own health care to pay for freeloaders. That's what this (Republican created/Democrat passed) law was about, to force people to take personal responsibility. I swear, it seems every time I find a republican ideal that I actually agree with, they flip-flop. I'm starting to think it's me.....

      March 31, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  16. 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 5:01 pm |
    • Gus

      *doesn't*

      March 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • just sayin

      God is, and guess what, He gets the spelling right the first time.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Puzzled in Peoria

      Sorry, Gus. You just don't get it and never will.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Michelle

      Gus, I'll share an example in case Cheryl doesn't get back to you. HISTORY: Hubby lost his job of 23 yrs. in '08, now makes 1/2 his salary, both our sons in college, TONS of debt, don't have two pennies to rub together at the end of the month. LAST WEEKEND: our refrigerator died early Sunday morning. We went to church as usual but didn't mention it to anyone; just decided to let God handle it, 'cuz we sure didn't have the money to spend on a new one. THAT AFTERNOON our friend/neighbor (also a Christian) walked over to visit. After a few minutes she handed me a card. I opened it and a check for $800 dollars fell out. She said God told her that morning to give it to us. NO ONE knew about the dead refrig. except God and us. Needless to say, I firmly believe in God and His provision for me and my family! We aren't getting rich, but we're making it day by day. Someday I believe we will be in a financial position to be a blessing to someone else. Blessings to you, Gus! I hope you will seek and find the Truth.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • edwardo

      shuv it!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Gus

      Let's keep reporting the spammer as abuse to CNN. They will act eventually if enough of us do it.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Templeton Foundation Prayer Study

      Three groups of people were asked to pray for patients they did not know personally. The congregations came from:
      - St. Paul's Monastery, St. Paul
      - The Community of Teresian Carmelites, Worcester, Massachussetts
      - Silent Unity, which is a Missouri prayer ministry near Kansas City

      Patients were divided into three groups:
      1. Patients who were told people would pray for them
      2. Patients who were not told people would pray for them, but people did pray for them
      3. Patients who were not told anything, and nobody prayed for them.

      Among two groups of patients, one having people praying for them but not knowing, and the other receiving no prayers, there was no difference in their health and recoveries.
      However, the group that was being prayed for and knew about it had more complications after surgery than the other two groups.

      Percentage of Patients Having Complications After Surgery
      52% – Patients who were receiving prayers and did not know this.
      52% – Patients receiving no prayers and not being told anything about prayers taking place anywhere for anyone.
      59% – Patients knowing they were receiving prayers

      According to this study, we may conclude the following:
      - Praying does not help the patient at all.
      - Telling patients that people are going to pray for them does have an effect, but not a good one.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things .

      March 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      In a negative way. Do some research, studies have proven very ill patients who are prayed for are more likely to die.

      /win

      March 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      Truth is not spam

      March 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      You're actually quite a heretic with your "prayer changes things" statement. God knows who's sick & who needs help .. it's quite presumptuous of you to question God omnipotence by telling him to do what you want.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      You have no concept of what prayer is about mr. horses ass.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Leo

      Templeton. The Bible is clear as to this test.

      7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”

      You speak of things you do not understand.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Kevin

      Nice bumper sticker. I learned in my Baptist Church that mankind is doomed, that we will all perish in fire, that nothing we do can make a difference, that only Jesus can save us and that we are only biding our time until the afterlife. I grew up in a nation whose Christian leaders were and are willing to destroy the planet with nuclear weapons and who seemingly go to war at the drop of a hat. My atheist friends are among the kindest, gentlest, most giving people I have ever known. Generally speaking, if forced to make a choice as to what would be healthiest for children and other living things, I'll take my chances with the atheists.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  18. palintwit

    Would jesus be a on an episode of American Pickers ?

    March 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  19. William Bay

    Who cares what Jesus would think. He is dead and no longer on this earth.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Anon

      More likely he didn't even exist in the first place at all.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  20. the doc is in! the preacher is out!

    Jesus farted! And the fart inhaled by his believers was that of a healing fart!
    The fart inhaled by those who didnt believe, smelled of sulfate, and Was a killer fart!

    Anyone in need of an antacid?

    March 31, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Need proof ? Read above

      March 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • GOD'S SPEAKING!

      @prayer changes things!

      Not being a believer in Jesus does not make you an atheist. There are so many different gods to believe in. Believing in any of them makes you religious!

      youre ignorance is obviously stated by your thoughtless comments!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:16 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.