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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. kristin

    How DARE YOU BRING JESUS into it. How would Jesus feel? Really? All I can say (STUPID)

    March 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  2. Bob

    Let's see – the health care system is becoming way too expensive for the vast majority of the people.

    Some people who call themselves conservatives like it that way, and don't want it changed. They like paying way too much for their medical care, and like to see their health insurance bills increase 20% every year. They think change is a bad idea.

    Other people who call themselves liberals timidly put forward a lukewarm unispired plan to change it, which they defend very ineffectively despite having control of both houses of Congress and the presidency, and let the timid bill get diluted into wormy nothingness.

    The result is something that helps nobody except the healthcare and insurance industries. Things will continue to deteriorate until it becomes a disaster, though doctors, insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations will still profit handsomely.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Mcdanel

      "...timid...lukewarm and uninspired..." by Jove, I think you've got it, and once the public option was off the table, there was nothing left but a joke. Apparently we are virtually the only First World Nation too incompetent to administer a public health program.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  3. buggs

    Christ believed we should treat the sick, feed the hungry, and minister to the lost. Rich people are so worried about staying rich, that they have forgotten that we are supposed to care for those less fortunate. We now have half the nation convinced that turning our backs on the poor is the right thing to do. Wake up people! Stop letting evil control you.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      Or jesus for that matter, who is nothing more than a shining puppet for the rich inside the various churches across the world. He is dead, the church is entirely human, and entirely a business venture, an extremely profitable and tax free one at that.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  4. Aheadofu

    Here is an answer to this: Health care? Yes. Obamacare? NEVER!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  5. TruthSeeker

    Who cares? The guy lived and died 2000 years ago.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  6. ignorance!

    One scary thought for children would be the fear of becoming a slave for someone. The Bible teaches the Jews that they can own Gentile (christian) slaves. And the Biblical teaching specifically mentions Gentile (christian) children. Leviticus 25:44-46 reads, "Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. " These are sick ideas to teach children weather you're a Jew or a Gentile (Christian).

    DONT SUPPORT THESE SCRIPTURES ANY LONGER! THEY ARE DETRIMENTAL TO ANY SOCIETY!
    AND NEED NOT TO BE TAUGHT TO OUR CHILDREN!
    WAKE UP ZOMBIES! FOR THE LOVE OF YOUR CHILDREN! PLEASE WAKE UP!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Brad

    The people want Jesus out of everything schools,public places but it's okay to ask if he would support healthcare if you have a agenda,after that he won't be wanted again

    March 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      we dont even want him or his ghost involved in healthcare! He is dead afterall...

      March 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Slight of Hand

      How would you get anything done in this country if you didn't spend a lot of time convincing the religious that their religion isn't at odds with a given political initiative?? More than a simple majority of the country identifies with religion.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  8. Theend

    Yes, Jesus would support health care reform - "And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out?" 50 million Americans have fallen into a pit of no health care insurance. "Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other."

    March 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  9. Critical Thinker

    Corrected version – Obamcares was implemented because the private sector and charity had their chance and failed over the years. Uninformed people need to research Obamacares on Wikipedia and not be duped by unethical Republicans in order to get the facts and learn how benficial and cost effective the program actually is. I was skeptical at first, but now I'm a believer in Obamacares now that I know the facts.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  10. ignorance!

    How do you tell children that God favored one group of people "above all people that are upon the face of the earth" as Deuteronomy 7:6 claims about the Hebrews/Jews? If you're Jewish you're doing a great disservice to your children by propagating this shameful lie and giving your children a false sense of superiority. If you're a Gentile (christian) and teaching this nonsense to your child, you're filling them with a terrible inferiority complex!

    PLEASE PROTECT CHILDREN!
    MAKE IT LAW THAT YOU MUST BE 18 TO ENTER ANY CHURCH, MOSQUE OR SYNAGOGUE!

    WE ARE OBLIGATED TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!
    TAKE A STAND!
    WAKE UP THE ZOMBIES!
    LET THEM KNOW THEY ARE BEING FOOLED!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  11. Joe

    Jesus said unto Bill, 'Thou had fevers as a child which is a disqualifying event. Bless you but please get lost, nexteth...'

    March 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  12. Mayflower

    Uh, since Jesus was pretty clear that he distrusted government authority, this is a moot point.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  13. ignorance!

    God, has put a monetary value on them? And an extremely low one at that! And that God thinks girls are worth only about half as much as boys! Also, the Bible god does not even bother putting a value on infants younger than one month let alone on unborn babies.
    PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!
    WAKE UP FROM YOUR ZOMBIE STATE!
    IF NOT FOR MY TEARS, THEN FOR THE TEARS OF YOUR OWN CHILDREN!
    WE MUST PROTECT THEM!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • DisGusTed

      God has not done this, MAN has

      March 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Leo

      It is funny how people scream tolerance and yet the hate from the Atheists and AntiChrists is pretty interesting.

      It is a hate swarm....

      Matthew 5

      1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
      3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

      5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

      6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

      7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

      8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

      9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

      10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • ignorance!

      Im not hating!

      These are actual scriptures from your bible!I've even given you references so you can find them, and read them for yourselves!

      March 31, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  14. Lizzy10

    Yes, He would.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  15. Critical Thinker

    Obamcares was implemented because the private sector and charity had their chance and failed. Uninformed people need to research Obamacares and not by duped as they have by unethical Republicans to find out out beneficial and cost effective the program actually is.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  16. NorthropP61

    "Then they will also answer, 'Lord when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison.... Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. And they will go away into everlasting punishment." Clear as a bell.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Mcdanel

      Thank you for your comment.
      I imagine asking Christ, "We have the ability to help the sick...should we?" Well I try to imagine asking that, but it doesn't work.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • James

      For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." Yup, clear as a bell

      March 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • jetskreemr

      @ James: I would hope that you would know that a large portion of people that don't have health insurance have either been: laid off from their jobs and cannot find a new one (that offers health insurance) in this market and thus cannot afford the outrageous health insurance premiums; or have a pre-existing condition and are rejected from being covered by health insurance companies. Not every person that is disadvantaged is simply lazy!! These are the problems that "Obamacares" is trying to solve.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Oskar

      The above quote is out of context. First, it's not the words of Jesus himself, and second: "We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” " I repeat: "We did this not because we do not have the right to such help".

      March 31, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things, .

    March 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Joe

      Yes, you become a little older, thats about it.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • DisGusTed

      But on the other hand religion is not healthy for children and other living things du to how religions distort lives teachings and are the cause of most wars and deaths of millions of people, the solution is spirituality because god is concerned for all not just those who believe twords specific teachings.Religions can be and usually are evil.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  18. stupid

    Through my short period of life or 30 years, one thing I learned in business that where jewish man involved there is a lot of lies, conspiracies and business. I never knew that jesus was jewish because I don't believe too much in god, but when I found out I was able to understand how he woke up alive at the third day. Wake up people wake up

    March 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Bob

      Your name fits you

      March 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      You take the name stupid and you were not lying. Your posting hit stupid like a bulls eye with a smattering of anti semitism thrown in.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      seconded, you are a bigot, and not the kind of person atheists want representing them.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  19. ignorance!

    And if it be from five years old even unto twenty years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels. And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver. And if it be from sixty years old and above; if it be a male, then thy estimation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels." How do you explain to innocent impressionable children that their Creator, God, has put a monetary value on them such as this?

    PLEASE HELP PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM THIS CRAZINESS!

    ZOMBIES PLEASE WAKE UP!
    CLIMB OUT OF YOUR FAIRYTALES AND PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Don

      I understand what you're trying to say, but you're basing your entire argument against Yahweh and Jesus on verses pulled out of context. There is so much more written about the value of human life and how we are to treat each other. Besides, Jesus' blood is of infinite worth, and He shed it for each and every single person alive as if they were the only one He was dying for...quite a bit more than these verses deal with. I know my argument alone won't convince you, but kindly look at the whole book to see the offer made to you.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • GodPot

      "There is so much more written about the value of human life and how we are to treat each other."

      Right, so if NAMBLA just donates to helpful charities or preaches a message of treating each other well we should accept their other "odd" little behavior of r a p i n g children?

      The bible put's sale prices on children, fact.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  20. Bob

    The Author of this article, John Blake, knows absolutely nothing of theology. In fact, it's a grave offense that he uses Jesus to support his point. The Son of God will not take lightly, his being used for a sinful human being's political purposes. The Pharasees were such people. To them Jesus said, "woe to you hyppocrites..." And that is what Jesus would do with John Blake's articles. Woe to you John Blake, HYPPOCRITE!

    March 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Burden of proof

      except for how John Blake will most certainly not be stricken down by god in any provable way. Theologians will interpret his death as an act of god, because such things cannot be made clear by a perfect all powerful being, we need humans to interpret it.

      There in lies the elephant in the room. What you cannot prove is non-existent. I.e fairies, unicorns, and most certainly god with a lower case g.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Philosopher

      Bob, are you implying that politicians, via politics, may never attempt to do good things? In other words, an attempt by the Democrats controlling the House, Senate and Executive branch, should never have attempted to "do God's work" by trying to help the unisurable, uninsured and underinsured people in America. Mr. Blake's article is not forcing Jesus's politics onto anyone. He is trying to invoke the position that we must all try to do something to help those in need. Even politicians.

      March 31, 2012 at 8:08 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.