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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. pastmorm

    Why are you people still holding on for someone that supposedly died 2000 years ago? Don't you think there have been kinder and REAL people since the fable of Jesus? Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc....even in the last 2000 years we've seen empires fall and rise and yet no news on Jesus. What kind of loving god is that? He's either totally ignoring your ***** or he just doesn't exist! Why don't you ask yourselves what you would do with a health reform? Stop looking for answers where you're only hearing silence.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • migeli

      Right! I think I will get away from this futile conversation.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

      4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

      5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

      6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

      7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
      2 Peter 3

      March 31, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  2. One one

    Jesus could easily take care of the world's sick. But he doesn't. He is setting a bad example. If Jesus doesn't help, why should anyone expect anyone else to?

    March 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • migeli

      JESUS can't help.I 'll give you three guesses why!

      March 31, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • One one

      @ nigeli.

      1. He doesn't exist.
      2. He doesn't exist.
      3. He doesn't exist.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      13And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

      14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?
      Luke 12

      March 31, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  3. ignorance!

    You believe in the Bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each calls the other infidel. But leaving the prejudice of education out of the case, the unprejudiced truth is, that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their creed from the Bible, or from the Koran, from the Old Testament, or from the New.

    "When you have examined the Bible with the attention that I have done (for I do not think you know much about it), and permit yourself to have just ideas of God, you will most probably believe as I do. But I wish you to know that this answer to your letter is not written for the purpose of changing your opinion. It is written to satisfy you, and some other friends whom I esteem, that my disbelief of the Bible is founded on a pure and religious belief in God; for in my opinion the Bible is a gross libel against the justice and goodness of God, in almost every part of it."

    March 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • pastmorm

      emm....not to be rude ignorance, but you're kinda sound'n a little crazy spouting all of this "stuff." If you have such deep beliefs perhaps you should go start another church. Everyone else is doing it...heck, some silly carpenter made a try at it almost 2000 years ago...

      March 31, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • ignorance!

      @pastmorm

      please don't confuse me with a bible thumper! Im not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist, or part any other crazy azz man made religion!
      the god I believe in has laws that can be proven, and his existence is all around you!
      from the tiniest proton particle, to the biggest black hole!
      He doesn't care about your morality. Who you love or who you hate. He's not even concerned in the least! He doesn't want you to do anything but live to the best of the abilities that he gave you!
      My god isn't some bleak, pie in the sky. He doesn't talk to people through burning bushes, he doesn't engrave his rules in a slate of rock! He is what he is, everything. You dont have to believe, but you do have to abide by his laws! ther is no way around it. His laws consist of laws you may have heard of before, like laws of gravity, logic, velocity, and math. I believe god communicates to us through reason, not prayer. For example it is unreasonable for you to think you can fly with an apparatus. But if you seek out gods laws, he will reveal to you ways that you can build, a rocks jet or plane so that you may fly. You find these answers through reasoning. Not prayer. Gods laws are already set, and he will not change them for you, because too much is depended on them. Things more important than we are.
      God has created life in amazing forms, such as nebulas, where stars are born, and begin their life. Stars also die. The have to devour certain elements to live, and avoid other elements that could prematurely destroy them. Just as we do. We have to eat to stay alive, but have to avoid poisons that will destroy us. Its a very easy concept, and it applies to all creatures and life forms, not just humans!
      Let Artificial religions go!
      And find the true god with reasoning, and understanding of life.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  4. ignorance!

    As I have now given you my reasons for believing that the Bible is not the Word of God, that it is a falsehood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible; and as the Turks give the same reason for believing the Koran, it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  5. ignorance!

    In the first place, nobody knows who the author, or writer, of the book of Samuel was, and, therefore, the fact itself has no other proof than anonymous or hearsay evidence, which is no evidence at all. In the second place, this anonymous book says, that this slaughter was done by the express command of God: but all our ideas of the justice and goodness of God give the lie to the book, and as I never will believe any book that ascribes cruelty and injustice to God, I therefore reject the Bible as unworthy of credit.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  6. ignorance!

    What makes this pretended order to destroy the Amalekites appear the worse, is the reason given for it. The Amalekites, four hundred years before, according to the account in Exodus xvii. (but which has the appearance of fable from the magical account it gives of Moses holding up his hands), had opposed the Israelites coming into their country, and this the Amalekites had a right to do, because the Israelites were the invaders, as the Spaniards were the invaders of Mexico. This opposition by the Amalekites, at that time, is given as a reason, that the men, women, infants and sucklings, sheep and oxen, camels and asses, that were born four hundred years afterward, should be put to death; and to complete the horror, Samuel hewed Agag, the chief of the Amalekites, in pieces, as you would hew a stick of wood. I will bestow a few observations on this case.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  7. ignorance!

    That Samuel or some other impostor might say this, is what, at this distance of time, can neither be proved nor disproved, but in my opinion it is blasphemy to say, or to believe, that God said it. All our ideas of the justice and goodness of God revolt at the impious cruelty of the Bible. It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes

    March 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  8. ignorance!

    It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man. That bloodthirsty man, called the prophet Samuel, makes God to say, (I Sam. xv. 3) `Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  9. ignorance!

    The sun and the seasons return at their appointed time, and everything in the creation claims that God is unchangeable. Now, which am I to believe, a book that any impostor might make and call the Word of God, or the creation itself which none but an Almighty Power could make? For the Bible says one thing, and the creation says the contrary. The Bible represents God with all the passions of a mortal, and the creation proclaims him with all the attributes of a God.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  10. ignorance!

    The Bible represents God to be a changeable, passionate, vindictive being; making a world and then drowning it, afterwards repenting of what he had done, and promising not to do so again. Setting one nation to cut the throats of another, and stopping the course of the sun till the butchery should be done. But the works of God in the creation preach to us another doctrine. In that vast volume we see nothing to give us the idea of a changeable, passionate, vindictive God; everything we there behold impresses us with a contrary idea – that of unchangeableness and of eternal order, harmony, and goodness.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  11. Pipe-Dreamer

    Religious mountains whose peaks are seen from afar off brings to bear the lights of religion to believers and not so much. The valleys of religious mountains are of social patterns where the living waters of livelihoods meander ever so onward while ebbing and flowing apart the shorelines of justice.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  12. ignorance!

    "For my own part, I believe that all are impostors who pretend to hold verbal communication with the Deity. It is the way by which the world has been imposed upon; but if you think otherwise you have the same right to your opinion that I have to mine, and must answer for it in the same manner. But all this does not settle the point, whether the Bible be the Word of God, or not. It is therefore necessary to go a step further. The case then is: –

    "You form your opinion of God from the account given of Him in the Bible; and I form my opinion of the Bible from the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in the structure of the universe, and in all works of creation. The result in these two cases will be, that you, by taking the Bible for your standard, will have a bad opinion of God; and I, by taking God for my standard, shall have a bad opinion of the Bible.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • migeli

      I admire your words.Wish I could express mine as well.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • ignorance!

      Thank you migeli.
      I appreciate your thoughtful kindness.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  13. ignorance!

    "It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says, that God spake unto Mahomet, do you believe that too? No.

    "Why not? Because, you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don't is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?

    March 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
  14. maveric43

    test

    March 31, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  15. migeli

    Some of the comments here especially from those against universal healthcare are positive proof that humans came from monkeys!

    March 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  16. ignorance!

    "The Pharisees of the second temple, after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, did the same by the books that now compose the Old Testament, and this is all the authority there is, which to me is no authority at all. I am as capable of judging for myself as they were, and I think more so, because, as they made a living by their religion, they had a self-interest in the vote they gave.

    "You may have an opinion that a man is inspired, but you cannot prove it, nor can you have any proof of it yourself, because you cannot see into his mind in order to know how he comes by his thoughts; and the same is the case with the word revelation. There can be no evidence of such a thing, for you can no more prove revelation than you can prove what another man dreams of, neither can he prove it himself.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  17. ignorance!

    "But by what authority do you call the Bible the Word of God? for this is the first point to be settled. It is not your calling it so that makes it so, any more than the Mahometans calling the Koran the Word of God makes the Koran to be so. The Popish Councils of Nice and Laodicea, about 350 years after the time the person called Jesus Christ is said to have lived, voted the books that now compose what is called the New Testament to be the Word of God. This was done by yeas and nays, as we now vote a law.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  18. ignorance!

    the Bible, which you call the Word of God, to show me that my opinions on religion are wrong, and I could give you as many, from the same book to show that yours are not right; consequently, then, the Bible decides nothing, because it decides any way, and every way, one chooses to make it.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 31, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • One one

      Atheists don't tell children and other living things that god sends them to h e l l to be tortured forever for not believing as they do.

      2 Thessalonians, 8-9:"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

      March 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • migeli

      If you are descended from monkeys how can you believe this jibberish you keep spouting except maybe as a monkey you prayed yourself to be a man and soehow it all worked out. Three cheers and a banana for you!

      March 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • migeli

      I'd be willing to bet that as you keep chanting your little verse you're probably puffing away on a cigarette polluting the air for "children and other living things"! I 'm praying that you quit.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  20. ignorance!

    The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is not the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      I've got to give to ya!
      You did chose your name wisely! LOL!

      March 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • ignorance!

      Is that all you have in your defense!
      You can't prove anything you believe in so you have to result to name calling!

      With intelligence. Such as yours you must be one of the wise men resurrected! Eh?

      March 31, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Hey, ignorance!
      My intelligence is not in spotlight here, it's your lack of knowledge you presumptuously claim to have! You deny the spiritual part of your being, without which you can never be complete, nor can you understand life and reality of it.

      If you didn't claim your begarly knowledge, making demeaning remarks about things you know nothing about, adn of which I am certain, and needed to poinat out the paradox of name you chose, my post which tic'ked you off wouldn't be posted. You see, that's how it works. Do you think you can you understand that?!

      March 31, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • ignorance!

      I never said I wasn't spiritual!
      Again your ignorance is your own personal shining spotlight that you deny you are in!

      Now point to one "demeaning" remark that I have made! You can't!

      And clearly you can't read my comments then claim I know not what im talking about, without you yourself giving any evidential claim to support your rant!

      And my post have nothing to do with you! They are a mere expression of my faith in god, and my disbelief of any man written bible!
      You can't contribute an intelligent counter point of view, and that leaves you bitter, with nothing at your defense but snide remarks.

      WAKE UP ZOMBIE! FIND YOUR WAY WITH GOD!
      STOP LETTING MAN CONTROL YOU WITH ITS MAN MADE DEITY! OK?

      March 31, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      ignorance, if you can say that Jesus Christ in a man made deity, then you reveal about yourself that you are immersed in your own blindness, not seeing where you're going. Your spirit is dead, your conscience silenced by your own self-will, and putting trust in your own understanding you err. And being lead by your fallen human nature, which is always running away from its Maker, you dabble into realm of darkness where alluring spirits prey on curious, naive, and gullible souls, who in relying on their own "wisdom' fall prey to them, damning their own souls.

      You say that I am controlled by man, but you don't have any clue that you are controlled by the enemy of your soul, who has you captive, having you doing his will , while promising you freedom.
      The other day i saw a person proudly wearing a shirt with satan's angel pictured on it. Underneath it said " free at last".
      It represented the picture of the lost and dying world, people like you and those who are drawn to those faith blogs, so they could spew insults on God and those who testify of Him to them, who, being sedated by his lies, are humming to his drumming, and being lead straight into the abyss of outer darkness , that place of the damned , prepared only for him and his angels, where human soul was never meant to enter!
      So when you rant your big, swelling words, anything else you say, or try to prove is futile and amiss! You make your bed , you sleep in it, because Christ Jesus came to save, but he also gave you free will. Your choice determines your eternal destiny! No further words needed to say on my part.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • twentytwenty

      @prizm
      . First off you've never seen me! And certainly not in any shirt with what you describe!

      Secondly!
      You form your opinion of God from the account given of Him in the Bible; and I form my opinion of the Bible from the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in the structure of the universe, and in all works of creation. The result in these two cases will be, that you, by taking the Bible for your standard, will have a bad opinion of God; and I, by taking God for my standard, shall have a bad opinion of the Bible.

      Thirdly!
      How can we get a fairly accurate understanding of whom Jesus Christ really was? We can rely heavily on the writing which is generally considered by modern scholars to be the oldest, still-existing biography of Jesus, that is the Gospel of Mark, and use a lot of skepticism. After all, Jesus is not the only human being in history to be mythologized into a superhuman miracle-worker. Saint Nicholas of Myra in Lycia (c. 270-343) was a real person who is now mythologized into Santa Claus, an obese old man who miraculously keeps track of the moral character of children, travels around the Earth on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, visits millions of houses in one night without opening any door or window, and leaves presents for millions of children. A similar process happened to Jesus. He was a real person (Jesus of Nazareth) who was mythologized into a make-believe person (Jesus Christ), an even greater miracle worker than Santa Claus!

      And finally!
      . You are the disciple of Satan himself! You speak of killing, rapine, and slavery. Supporting the evils that have been molesting, killing, and enslaving children, adults, and all of mankind!
      You should be Ashamed of yourself devil!

      April 1, 2012 at 11:51 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.