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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. Qubee

    Jesus, if he existed, wouldn't know a camel's azhole from a molehole.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  2. pottermaine

    Jesus is dead and unavailable for comment. Think for yourselves.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • mike

      And you will dead soon too. And nobody will care about you.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Weekend Update

      This breaking news just in: Generalissimo Francisco Franco and Jesus are still dead!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • just sayin

      Produce the body

      March 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  3. mike

    Why we, americans, believes in a system where education and health should be paid?
    Everybody around the world have free medical insurance... Even cuba.. but we thinks that some people deserves that benefits... Poor people doesnt have the right of education or insurance???? Why not???

    March 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • matt

      nothing is free...notice if you will the financial collapse of alot of those countries due to a Gov trying to pay for everything...it cant be done...only way Gov can help with health reform is to force Drs aand hospitals to reduce their ridiculous prices for minor treatments

      March 31, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  4. aizen

    this is such an idiotic question though, it doesnt apply to jesus as he was not from our time...anyways if we have to put it in context then yeah he would, his father the all mighty God has given everyone health for free didnt he???? therefore, jesus will support healthcare or obamacare how you americans call it....

    March 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  5. cgs

    Charity is giving from ones heart. It is not government forcefully taking ones goods and giving them to another.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  6. Qubee

    Jesus, if he existed, wouldn't know a camel's chithole from a mole hole.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  7. headless horse man

    What do we care what an urban legend thinks! It's high time america stood for something other than greed and paying off all the washington politicians. We have the finest politician money can buy!

    March 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  8. migeli

    Jesus would support universal healthcare and tell the insurance companies to leave that business to the government"of the people"and to stop corruptng our politicians,the ones who would deny us single payer universal healthcare

    March 31, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  9. squawks

    Who cares? The millionaires who are trying to pinch us out of everything? They don't care.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  10. Qubee

    Google "The Real Face Of Jesus. If he actually existed, he'd be an ugly SOB! He looks like he couldn't count to 5.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • squawks

      I think you need a bit more education in the looks department and the intelligence area.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      Since you cannot see him/her and have no access to their iq score we can reach 2 conclusions.

      1) you are a liar
      2) you are a christian who does not follow their teachings

      March 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Qubee

      From the forensic reconstruction of a man that lived 2000 years ago, he looks clueless.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Maani

      Here is the description of Jesus from Isaiah 53:

      "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."

      Qubee is correct from a Biblical standpoint: the Jesus we see depicted in film and television (and in much artwork) – good-looking actors, etc. – is NOT scripturally correct.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Dale

      There is more manuscript evidence to support the existence of Jesus than that of Napoleon Bonaparte. Are you sure you exist?

      March 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Anon

      I think, therefore I exist.
      You're just another moronic apologist.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  11. Darryl S

    I would imagine Jesus would support a resourced based economy where everyone benefits, and not a system where someone gets rich off someone else's misery.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Qubee

      Jesus, if he existed, wouldn't know a camel's azhole from a mole hole.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Anon

      I'm very interested in an RBE based society.
      And no, it's not an utopia. Utopia is an impossibility.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8ypnsSO6Ng&w=640&h=360]

      March 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  12. Wile E. Coyote

    I doubt there can be any greater example of stupidity than trying to base political policy on the opinion of a guy who has been dead for thousands of years (if he even existed at all), who never talked about anything remotely related to the subject.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • squawks

      He only healed the sick and dying.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Wile E. Coyote

      Why did he stop? Why does the all-powerful all-knowing Jesus limit his EMT work to a tiny number, then retire? If he is as people say, he easily has the power to not let sickness and dying happen in the first place, not to mention healing it when it occurs, and he could do that with EVERYONE, not just one or two.

      Jesus really was not very thorough, was he?

      March 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things..

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

      yes we know, it causes those who are very ill and prayed for to be more likely to die. It has been proven. You are correct.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Qubee

      Abuse reported.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:35 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 5:40 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      You cannot prove that it is harmful.

      I have a six figure salary, beautiful wife, wonderful son. I am patriotic, charitable, and extremely dedicated to my family and job. I am this person without any supernatural forces, just hard work and determination.

      This is anecdotal, but still evidence.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Templeton Foundation Prayer Study

      for Burden of proof ...

      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 5:50 pm |
  14. squawks

    Who cares WWJD or support when we are a nation of power, greed and money. When the highest echelon are millionaires (Christians?) does it really matter?

    March 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Bob

    Jesus came from a heavenly kingdom where things are done completely
    differently than here an earth. You can't mix apples and oranges. He knew that
    this world's system was evil, ie "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and render
    unto God the things that are God's." Quite frankly, I don't think money exists in heaven.
    I believe Jesus would be all for helping the sick and downtrodden regardless whether he did
    it , some ordinary person did it, or a government representing the people's will did it.

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

      bob prove heaven exists.

      You cannot, it does not.

      Cliche but, been there done that.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Jill-IN

      Like!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jill-IN

      I "like" Bob's comment – not burden of proofs!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  16. Qubee

    Jesus never existed. It's a creation. The evidence for the existence of Jesus all comes from after his lifetime. Since most information about Jesus comes from Christian sources, some critics argued that the biblical scholars who disbelieve that Jesus was the same as the Christ of faith have created the historical Jesus in their own image.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Anon

      Even one of the founding fathers advocated that Jesus was myth.

      "The christian religion is a parody on the worship of the Sun, in which they put a man whom they call Christ, in the place of the Sun, and pay him the same adoration which was originally paid to the Sun." ~Thomas Paine~

      March 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • just sayin

      Please name current ancient historical scholars that dispute the existence of Jesus.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Anon

      Here are three: Hector Avalos, Rober M. Price and D.M. Murdock.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Anon

      *Robert M. Price

      March 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      Considering the founding fathers represented all major Christian denominations and several were devout Christians, your fact checks seem a little weak anon

      March 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • John Lydon

      @ just sayin – That evidence has already been posted, and as you have repeatedly told us, that means it does not have to be posted again and must be accepted as proven truth.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • just sayin

      Not atheists , scholars.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • squawks

      I am appalled by the lack of education and intelligence in this discussion. Everyone sure has opinions just as everyone has b*** holes.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      I'm an Atheist who has no reason to doubt that the person we refer to as Jesus existed in some capacity. I also have no reason to believe he was anyone special or wielded any powers or was the son of a God I have no reason to believe existed/exists.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • just sayin

      There are no serious scholars of ancient Palestine that dispute the existence of Jesus. Dawkins had to back off that false published claim recently when confronted by someone who actually knew scholars in that field. Dawkins high priest of stupidity ended up accepting and acknowledging the fact that Jesus did exist.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Anon

      just sayin: Hector Avalos (atheist), Robert M. Price (possibly agnostic) and D.M. Murdock. (non-theist or pantheist).
      An honest study of religion always brings about the intrinsic dishonesty of religion.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • just sayin

      Not an honest scholar in the bunch.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Ay Caramba

      No you fool. The Jesus of the Bible is a construct of several people. There was one guy who was nailed to the cross and came back. It was all done by Constantine when he changed it all and the result is the Modern Bible. It does not take away from the Christ and all that means. See the Church is really scared of that Christ.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
      • oo oo

        idiot. liar

        December 10, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Anon

      just sayin: Prof. Dawkins (not high priest of atheism since it's a lack of belief, hence no dogmas, creed, etc) would probably accept that Jesus was myth if presented the case from those biblical authors.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  17. Ronald

    If you know what Jesus stood and died for then you know that he would support health care of course.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Anon

      Would would he stood and die since Jesus didn't exist in the first place at all.

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

      *How would he stood and die since Jesus didn't exist in the first place at all?

      March 31, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • just sayin

      No serious scholar of ancient Palestine doubts the existence of Jesus.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Jon

      Christ died on the cross, many saw and lived to tell the tale. Even a few witnessed Christ healing the sick, blind, deaf, lame, and etc. Even the Resurrection of Christ could not be denied by a few who witnessed it and lived to tell it. The cross is there, the blood was already stained.

      Now, where's Christ's corpse? Surely, a nordsmen corpse would show out of the ground, but not Christ. The evidence is quite there.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      just sayin .. mere existence does not make any of the stories true or give Jesus any supernatural connections.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  18. Mohammad A Dar

    No one by the name of Jesus ever existed, it is hinduism fabrication of hindu's, pagans, by corruption of the Hebrew name of son of blessed Mary, Easu, anointed, from Hebrew word Anyat, a blessing from higher authority. Letter J is aded to make him a Jew, but he was a Hebrew, letter A is deleted to conform to hindu, pagan trinity and letter S is added for respect. having no meanings at all. Way of hindu's, deniers of truth in their hinduism, paganism

    A man depicted as Jesus never existed in hiostry but hinduism, innovation of Egyption hindu's pagans by stealing knowledge from Hebrew's to promote hindu pagan Mithra ism, savior ism, based on hindu pagan Pharoahnic hinduism, racism with

    hindu pagan sign of hinduism racism, cross and swastika.Question by writer has no bases to ask for opinion, because a hindu pagan man god named as Jesus never existed.

    Word hindu is based on Latin, (truth) language word hindered, negative, Hun, for great, as in white huns of central Asia, Han, to be in greatness, as in Han, dynasty of china and hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity and hinduism, way of negativty. Source of hinduism, disunity among humanity a cause of mayhem, Karma whole humanity is suffering for hinduism, denial of truth of hindu's, deniers of truth absolute in life and hinduism, fabrication of pot head, boy loving hindu sanatan's, criminal goons pretending to be god's in hinduism, defiance of truth absolute to make humanity their gentiles, slaves in Magi ism, trickery in line with hindu, criminal Pharaoh's hinduism, racism and their hindu criminal boy abusing, a holy tradition of hindu criminal tradition as hindu sanatans, filthy goons as man god's of humanity in Pharoahnic hinduism, racism.

    Word Jew is hinduism fabrication of Pharoahnic hindu's, based on Hebrew word Yahood, self centered, secular, hindu, denier of truth, a pig, self centered in defiance of truth absolute in Pharoahnis hinduism, racism, and source of hindu filthy hinduism racism and hindu filthy Judaism, self center ism. Cause of hinduism, disunity among humanity. such as in word Ro Ben hood,l

    Ro means enshrined in or established , Ben, blessing as in Arabic or Hebrew language, hood, habitat, universe according to hindu absurd hinduism absurdity, universe to be creator of human as her gentiles, slaves and human Kings and priest to be their hindu filthy man god's to rule over them.

    hindu Jew's, self centered, secular are not what they claim to be, "ISRAELITE" but hindu pagan of Egypt and Persia, pretending to be Israelite to hind, fool humanity, as has been the case of generations to rob and steal from humanity.
    .eir hinduism, criminality.
    Human can never have peace, Islam, without removal of hindu's, deniers of truth and their hinduism, criminality.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Jill-IN

      Goofy – why waste your time.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Ay Caramba

      I'm gonna burst your muslim bubble. You seem to relish in the falseness of the Bible Jesus. The god of the Jews (yaweh) is not a real god at all. It was some one posing as a god. Mohamed tied himself to that god and by default made you guys follow a false god also. The God that the Christ spoke of is not the same as the Jewish god and he called him Father. I believe that to be the real God. These is also evidence that the koran was just as manipulated. So it is wise not to spit up or against the wind.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  19. Bible just a theory

    Jesus would tell you that you shouldn't worry about your personal health, but instead concentrate on going to heaven. So don't waste your money on doctors, CT scans, antibiotics, or chemotherapy. Just die quickly so you can go to heaven!

    March 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Qubee

      Way to go!

      March 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • squawks

      What planet are you on?

      March 31, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Ay Caramba

      That is just what the GOP/T conservatives would say. No health care just Die.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Damie

      Good (tongue in cheek) point. Squawks apparently never read his/her Bible. Luke 12:27Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

      28If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

      29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.

      30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.

      31But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  20. squawks

    Who cares what Jesus thinks? Our President and all of Congress and celebrities call themselves "Christian" as they hoard their millions of dollars. They sicken me when money means more than people and their basic needs. It doesn't matter what is being debated as long as this continues.

    I would be satisfied if these people called themselves 'Satanists, Atheists, etc.' but Christians? No way.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      unfortunately you choose to insult atheists who by nature are humanists and value the well being and continuance of the human species above all other things.

      These people are christians, as all it takes to be one is to call yourself one. Your view on personal values needs updating.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • squawks

      Burden, SOME atheists are humanists. I think you missed the point of what I stated. Call yourself anything you want but not Christian if you hoard money, greed and power.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • squawks

      Burden, I was cut off. Sure anyone can call themselves anything; but they aren't what they proclaim. I could say I was an atheist, but not true. I am saying the same about so-called Christians, who are nowhere near what a Christian is.

      March 31, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Damie

      It sounds as though you have a chip on your shoulder with respect to people who make and save money. Maybe you could change your own negativity and make the world a better place. Each of us is responsible for ourselves and our families. Some of us work and save to provide not just for today but for rainy days in the future. That is called 'wisdom.' It is call "thrift." What is wrong with that? Why do you begrudge others who are wise, thrifty and successful? Why do you see "saving" as "hoarding?" Are you jealous? Have you not developed the self-discipline and skills necessary to get what you want? The only person you can change is you, so good luck dropping the resentment, judgment, jealousy, anger, etc. and freeing up your energy for positive pursuits.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:33 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.