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. Avsec Bostjan

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    March 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • IceT

      Did anyone actually read that whole thing? Didn't think so.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • GAW

      IceT I didn't either. Copy and paste posts show very little thought on the part of the poster. What it does show that someone else is doing the thinking for them.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i think one of the koo-koos escaped from his clock...

      March 31, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. loki301

    Jesus would not demand that others be forced to give up their hard earned money. He would want those who are able to help out on their own through a church charity. Not to be forced to act against their free will due to government threats of extortion. If you believe in heaven and want to get in after you die, then you had better have done some acts of charity as well as ask for forgiveness for your sins. Otherwise you shall burn for all eternity in the lake of fire. Gee , now that I think about it , it kind of seems like extortion either way. Man will jail you for not paying taxes, and seize your property. God will see you burn in hell if you do not do what He commands.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • GAW

      Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When most church people read these words they laugh or try not to take them literally.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  3. Marley

    I doesn't matter what "Jesus" thinks: he doesn't exist!

    March 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Buzzer

      How original...put another useless tally on the wall...

      March 31, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  4. Sid AIrfoil

    You've got to be kidding with this article. The Bible is greatest Rorshach test in history. It says whatever the reader WANTS it to say. Trying to figure out what the Bible has to say about U.S. health care reform say more about us (i.e. our desperate need for rationalizing our decisions, and believing the god is on our side) than it does about health care. If you need god or his son with you when you make every important decision, then this nation is truly sunk.


    March 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Buzzer

      The greatest leaders in the history of the U.S. would beg to differ with your opinion....

      March 31, 2012 at 8:00 pm |

    SC is better of leaving this to public instead of them making a decision and last time I check public already made a decision.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  6. floridamom1

    The only healthcare law Jesus would support would be the one He implemented and came up with himself. Until then, saying He would support man's pathetic attempt at destroying the agency of man, is hogwash. Does He want you to help your fellow man? Of course. But, that is not what this is.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Philosopher

      floridamom, do you know what "this" is? How familiar are you with the Affordable Care Act ? Before the Republicans in Congress destroyed or stripped away many of the proposals the Democrats wanted, there was a great plan. Now we have a bare bone platform that is the start of something great. Let's hope that "this thing" stays in place and is improved by bipartisan members of Congress who truly wish to help the poor and struggling middle class (of which almost 99% of Americans are a part of). Here is a link for your reference: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/full/ Take some time and see what the positive parts are before you throw out the baby with the bath water.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  7. thymat

    ......As a Canadian looking south it seems almost ludicrous to watch the childish interaction of USA citizens about the healthcare question..........Most of the developed countries especially Western and European countries have enjoyed top healthcare for its polulations for anywhere from 60 years to over a century........Why the USA refuses for once to look beyond it"s borders is a complete mystery to the outside world................ Examples of a great healthcare system is as close as your Northern neighbour. ..........It is not perfect but every Canadian is covered and it has served the Canadian population exptremely well for over 60 years and NOBODY in Canada has ever had to declare bankruptcy due to illness.............Give it a shot............

    March 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Captain America

      Oh, uh, he said Canada!!!!!! Must . . . rage . . . before . . . too . . . late . . . Canadians are unAmerican!!! Your government is run by rabid communist islam-appeasing nazi-mooses, un meese, uh, meeses, oh damn, what's the plural of moose?!?!

      Canadians are, uh, they, uh, well I am sure they are something really bad!


      March 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • just sayin

      Whydo more Canadians get their healthcare in the USA, than in Canada?

      March 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Philosopher

      thymay, your country's water is cleaner and the environment less polluted (hence , the beer is better). You welcome immigrants and have sane gun laws. If only healthcare was the only matter for us to emulate.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Why? Because Canada is just a suburb of the United States?

      March 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      Not all U.S. citizens are as dopey as this debate would make it seem. Unfortunately for the majority of us, some big money interests (for example: healthcare insurance companies) have purchased most of our politicians and those politicians have prayed upon the religious beliefs of some and have duped them into believing that things like single-payer healthcare infringe their religious freedoms. They have also lied about the success of other healthcare systems in other countries. It's too bad that the insurance companies and their paid-for puppet politicians have the soap box and the money to shout down the voice of the more sane in this country.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • notheism

      If so, can you support your claim somehow? As far as I know, the very idea has been PROVEN to be false.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • just sayin

      You are here.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Philosopher

      I guess I will start praying that all religous fanatics, evangelicals and orthodox whatever will start using their minds instead of relying on blind faith for guidance in our complex world. I truly hope prayer changes this "thing".

      March 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      and Just Sayin' here you are again? Are you by any chance the one spamming us with these? Your relentless defense of this seems a bit suspect. Just askin'

      March 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • GAW

      If it does then you haven't been parayin enough kiddo. Get off your duff and do something.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  9. Schmoogalicious

    No, not at all. Jesus would have agreed with Republicans that it's far more important for us to spend our money on fancy cars, large houses, and big-screen TVs than to pay for some silly child's cancer treatment. Who do you think Jesus was, some kind of pie-in-the-sky liberal? Don't be ridiculous - Jesus was all about making as much money and acquiring as many material possessions as possible. Just ask the fundamentalists.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  10. carl

    If you really knew who he is, you wouldn't ask such things, but because this nation has built groves and built alters to Baal and gonea whoring to worship things that have eyes but can't see and things that have ears but can't hear.... and the end result ?

    March 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  11. Thinks2010

    We should move to single-payer healthcare with an opt-out option. If someone chooses to opt out, s/he would receive a tax deduction and would be not be eligible for treatment under the single-payer plan. Should s/he choose to opt back in at a future date, s/he should be required to pay 5 years worth of single-payer taxes before s/he is eligible for care. S/he could pay that as a lump sum based on her/his previous 5 income earning years or choose to pay taxes without care for the next five years.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

      ITZ NOT IN THA BIBLE SO YOU CANNT DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

      March 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      @Jethro Bodine, Christian–lol.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  12. Philosopher

    I have handled hundreds of bankruptcies for clients who have been treated at Baptist and Catholic hospitals. These religious facilities showed no charitable traits in their collection efforts – demand letters, dunning phone calls and finally law suits. The higher power of God and his mercy seemed to be missing from their "business plan". Meanwhile these hospitals continue to expand facilities and throw money around as if they have a bottomless pit of funds. Oh wait, they pretty much do since they are non-profit organizations and must spend all revenue by each year's end. Buying other hospitals, clinics and physician groups has become a necessity lest they lose their tax exempt status. I hope the religous men who spoke of wanting government out of medicine do not convince too many of their church brethern of the merciless preachings of Paul Ryan and his ilk. Medicare is a life saving program for millions of Americans, religous or not. It was created because of the private sector's failure to care for the elder members of society. It never ceases to amaze me when I see religion and capitalism blend. For some of these so called religous leaders it appears that the almighty dollar rises above the true teachings of most religions.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      Wonderful post!

      March 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • johnberk

      Wonderful post!!!!
      More Regulation in the Mortgage Market

      March 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • GAW

      I thoroughly agree religion and capitalism are a bad mix. Not to say on the church level it can be just as bad esp with megachurches which require millions of dollars to exist.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  13. Charlie from the North

    Are you kidding me? Look at how many time Jesus mentions the poor in the New Testament. Do any of you out there remember what made the Almighty mad? Was it the crowd wanting to free the murderer instead of him? That his best friend denied even knowing him? That one of his team sold him out to the right wing religious nuts of his day? Nope none of these made him mad. It was the money changers at the temple. Clearly the Lord God and Savior was part of the 99% while he was on earth and he would have what the hell took us so long to address this important need. "Whatsoever you do to the least of these you do unto me" does that sound like he would have been against healthcare?

    March 31, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Wicked Witch of the West

      Actually, the Almighty is mad at just about everything and everyone in the Bible. He mass-murders the entire human race but for a few on a couple different occasions, sends in his hit-men angels to level a couple towns, and is going to eternally torture everyone who does not kiss his behind exactly how he wants it done.

      God is in serious need of anger management therapy.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Truthfully

      One thing many of you are conveniently forgetting which we so often hear in regard to so many issues: separation of church and state. Hmmm... can't have it both ways.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Buzzer

      Just because people are against the law that president Obama and the Democrats put in-place doesn't mean they're not for reform...they may just be against the particular mandate in the law and for the majority of the rest of the bill...the statement "if they're against the law in place, then they're against health care reform or against health care for those that don't have it" is a truly ignorant statement...

      March 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  14. anonymous

    No he won't. In God's perfect world nobody gets sick. What a dumb question.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  15. Bootyfunk

    hard to say. since there is no such thing as god, think of this as discussing greek or norse mythology. the fictional character of jesus heals a lot of people by laying hands on them - leppers, blind, diseased, sick, etc. he also "exorcises" demons from people with his magic touch. but there are times when he's not so kind to people in need. for instance:

    A Canaanite woman wants Jesus to heal her sick daughter. Jesus tells his disciples he only heals Jews. He tells her Canaanites are dogs and won’t heal her daughter until she agrees.
    Mathew 15:21-28
    21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
    22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
    23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
    24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
    25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
    26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
    27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
    28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

    on the other hand, jesus was a complete commie when it came to economics, so maybe he would support gov't sponsored health care.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Smootyfunk

      Oh Bootyfunk, you completely missed the point son. Jesus was testing this woman's intent and faith, which coincidently she passed.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:38 pm |

    I personally dont believe that there is a man like figure sitting up in the sky watching your every move. He isn’t there making sure your sports team wins. He isn’t there talking to the pope, the rabbi’s, or any other religious leader. And he certainly isn’t there talking to any of you. sorry to say we’re just not that important. He does have laws though, that must be abided by. For instance there are things you must do to live, and procreate (even though his laws have allowed us to do that outside of our own bodies), we must stay clear of certain elements while devouring other elements. His laws are made of laws you may have heard before. Like laws of gravity, laws of physics, and velocity, and logic. For god in completely undeniable! for he is the universe and more. We are not the most important things alive in the universe.
    Things you can’t even imagine are alive, reproduce, enjoy some elements while rejecting others. Our very own planet is alive (its not a rock, and it certainly isn’t flat!) our solar system is alive the universe is alive, stars die and reproduce every minute. and its a great and beautiful display of gods power. gods plan is for the universe and beyond not just us. we’re just a minuscule particle in a minuscule time period, no more important than a kitten, or a kangaroo. however we have evolved intelligence that other species have yet to achieve. Our destinations will be laid out in time with science and true understanding of these (gods) laws. Be patient we’ll get there in time! until then we need to love, respect, protect, and feed one another so that we survive long enough to achieve the goal of god. One more thing. Our gods laws, are proven everytime scientist have a new break through, or discovery another one of gods fascinating laws are revealed. Its important that we understand it, question it, and finally correct what we can, and accept what we can’t. His laws are unforgivable. He’s not an angry god. Just one that has given us life, in a place where his laws can’t by any means be broken you have no choice in them, for they are already set. You can’t break them if you wanted to. For god has made sure of this! Love god, your fellow man, the planet, the universe. And constantly remind yourself how small you are in gods creation. For this is your one true god! For your bible was hand written by man not god. And these laws are 2000(plus) years old now. Its time to believe in what we know, and what is real! and let go of what isn’t real!

    March 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  17. Matt

    The funny thing is that there are probably thousands of comments, but that no one is going to read what you have to say.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Philosopher

      Matt, why don't YOU take the time to read some of the posts and make a thoughful contribution.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • tj

      Matt, I've read what you had to say.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  18. Holy Man

    My favorite part of the Bible with where Jesus tells us to give money to the rich, ignore the poor, and tell the sick they're out of luck. That's what our so-called "Christian" politicians believe, too!

    March 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Charlie from the North

      Absolutely right. I took more words to say the same thing.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      Well said.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • GAW

      Benni Hinn would like this idea

      March 31, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  19. Toad

    To one day achieve such importance to so many people that I would have not only hundreds of millions of followers but also detractors so desperate as to call me a myth. Forget being a rock star.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • IceT

      Too bad he's not here to enjoy it .. but that would make him (and you) prideful which is a deadly sin.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Wouldn't finding out Jesus was nothing more than myth or folklore or just an extreme case of the telephone game be quite embarrasing .. so let's not tell anyone & just keep it going.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  20. Acebravo

    As a Muslim, I say Jesus peace be upon him would whole heatedly want care for all, this is the stance of all prophets and messengers of God. The notion of trust God/Government is incorrect. We are to trust God at all times and in every way, but at the same time, God has put laws and teachings and ways for healing for us here on earth so we may run our own lives.

    March 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

    • Nice post, Acebravo, but inevitably someone will bring up the topic of theocracy, where it is at least attempted to make the laws of God and man coincide. Not a popular idea.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Anon


      March 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      you can't prove Mohammad existed either. The blind lending a hand to the blind.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
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About this blog

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.