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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    June 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Robert

      Religion is trap...

      June 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • The Hot Hands of an Oslo Dentist

      Prayer is Jesus' health care system. Use it, and nothing else, next time you have a major medical problem.

      You wouldn't want to let Jesus see your true colors by not having enough faith and getting a doctor, would you?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      It does, you becomes stupid when you forgoe thinking and rely on the magic book.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  2. Sky

    I WANNA SEE PICTURE OF MUHAMMAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Samuel

      Row the boat, Ben Hur.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Sure. Here you go.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANciqN3lydI&w=640&h=360]

      June 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  3. Bayousara

    Jesus has more important things to worry about. Like how to convince so many of us that he even existed and whether all the things that happened to him really happened. Like his virgin birth, walking on water, getting a party drunk with more wine than they started with, rising from the dead, etc. etc. That is enough to keep him busy wherever he is. If he is. Whatever......

    June 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Brampt

    If Jesus said: my kingdom is not part of this world, and he ask us to pray for his kingdom to come to earth and do Gods will, why these people that call them "Christians" want mix politics with Christianity?

    June 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Scott

      Jesus would never ask us to "mix" Politics with "Christianity". He would (and still does) ask us to live a life transformed flowing from a loving relationship with the Father that flows into all that we do. You see it's not mixing Christianity with anything. It's being a Christian who is involved with politics or woodworking, or childbearing or playing golf. Being a Christian in politics (in life really) should be about seeking the best for everyone, Jew, Christian, Muslim, straight, gay, rich or poor. A Christian (should) believe in life and that abundantly for everyone, and love EVERYONE. That's my 2 cents worth, and that may not be much, but if read the word, he praised a little old widow who gave the equivalent. Good day all.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  5. Scott

    No, Jesus would not support the healthcare plan. He would simply heal the sick, and show the rest of us how to pray and heal every disease.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Too funny!! Even had he of existed he would not have been anything more than a regular man. Get back to your sandbox, this is an adult conversation.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Daniel

      please......Jesus would want us to take care of our poor and sick.........in whatever form that is...end of discussion.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Samuel

      He'd split out to the desert for 40 days. Cruise to Greece, more likely.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • the fox

      If he were going to heal the sick, why would he make them sick to begin with?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Ed

    Jesus was said to have raised Lazarus from the dead. That's the bar – Obamacare ain't gonna cut it.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  7. Ooopsey Daisy

    Why would the guy who invented cancer and bubonic plague and birth defects and heart attacks and diabetes and antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis even WANT you to have healthcare? The sole purpose of doctors and medicine and hospitals is to counteract what he intentionally created and gave you.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  8. Dan Scott

    There is no 'Jesus.'

    June 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Mom

      There's no 'Dan Scott'

      Now go F yourself

      June 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Answer

      So funny.

      Little mom got her feelings hurt.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Samuel

      Turning the other cheek reveals f bombs

      June 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  9. ISLAM

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDbpbiJE3mI&w=640&h=360]

    June 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  10. Q Kim

    Please stop depicting Yeshua as a white man. In fact, unless someone has actually seen or somehow knows otherwise what Yeshua looks like, creating an image of Yeshua in any manner (other than in a purely symbolic or representative manner) is speculative at best and could be outright false. Most of all, God may not approve of men creating images of the Messiah.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • JWT

      God can approve or not – it's all the same difference.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • !

      Go f-u-c-k yourself your Anti-Christian bi.got cow

      June 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Mom

      Are you Jew? Go F you

      June 28, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Korean Jesus

      Jesus was Korean.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  11. T-Bone

    Spiderman also approves, so does the Hulk and a few other fictional characters.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Strong Man

      Hulk does NOT approve. Hulk SMASH.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  12. Ok

    Why can't CNN put a picture of Muhammed? I want to see how handsome he looked

    June 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Korean Jesus

      Only the cool kids post pictures of mohammed

      June 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  13. Ricky LW

    I am NOW officially sick to my stomach!

    June 28, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  14. Go Obama!

    Next: Convert to the metric system

    June 28, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  15. Jeff--Tacoma

    I'm with Gandi. Christ is awesome. Christians not so much.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Jeff–Tacoma: "I'm with Gandi. Christ is awesome. Christians not so much."

      I'm a Christian and I know Christ. Indeed, he's my Lord and saviour – I converse with him in prayer.
      You Jeff, on the other hand apparently don't know him.

      "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." (1 John 3:14).

      Perhaps it's your pre-conceived view of Christ that you think is awesome.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  16. skegeeace

    II don't think Jesus cares what the government does for people as much as He cares what His FOLLOWERS do for people. He wasn't really into politics if I read correctly...

    June 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Exactly, skegeeace. Too bad more people don't realize this.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  17. Robert

    Who cares honestly? I mean, I don't think Heath Care should be made. Health Care should mostly be for the retired or people unable to work and get health insurance. Don't force lazy people to get health insurance if they aren't even worried about it.

    This effects the economy even more, doesn't it?

    Obama needs to think this through more...

    June 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You need to think it through. I don't think you quite grasp the issue.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Daniel

      Young people need affordable health coverage. The leading cause for bankruptcy for 28-35 year old's is paying for health care. We need healthy people for a healthy coverage and it's Health Care, not Wealth Care as Romney would prefer.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Robert

      My point is, why do this while America is in debt. We need to focus on one thing and thats getting our money back on track. If we don't have the money, we can't buy medicine. I know his aim is HOPE and CHANGE. But sometimes you need things to have some other things changed.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  18. Yeah

    Thank God America is becoming more socialised like Europe 😀

    June 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  19. Spidey-Man

    OH C'MON!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!

    June 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • julie

      AMEN! What a bizarre and utterly meaningless question

      June 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  20. Mus

    Muhammed r.aped a 9 year old girl and killed women while breastfeeding her baby 😮

    June 28, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • muon

      Sure, but what has he done for us lately...

      June 28, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Picking myself up off the floor – Muon, that has GOT to be the reply of the day!

      June 28, 2012 at 5:24 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.