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Would Jesus support health care reform?
Jesus depicted healing a sick child.
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Would Jesus support health care reform?

Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:

David Nelson
It is sad that Jesus has been demoted to being a politician. Jesus plainly said "My Kingdom is not of this world." Movements to use Him to promote their agendas, whether they be on the Left or Right, are extremely suspect in the eyes of this Christian.

kateslate
Jesus would SO have been a democrat. He taught us to care for the sick...not to profit off illness. I don't know how Republicans can live with themselves and call themselves Christian.

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.

We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.

References to Jesus, of course, didn’t make into the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a moral dimension to this epic legal debate:

How should the nation help its “least of these,” an estimated 50 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as well as those who could go broke or die because they can’t afford medical care?

Christians are as divided about this question as others. Many cite Jesus, but come up with completely different conclusions.

Trust God or government?

Tom Prichard, a Lutheran and president of the Minnesota Family Council, said it’s ultimately about faith.  Who do we trust – God or government?

He opposes “Obamacare” because he has more faith in the market and people, than government.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“Here Jesus’ words come to mind about not worrying and trusting God to meet our basic needs,” Prichard wrote in an online post warning about the dangers of “government run health care.” “Or if we believe it all depends on us, we’ll look to government.”

When reached at his Minnesota office,Prichard elaborated: He said the nation should empower families and individuals to make health-care decisions. If families can’t afford health insurance, private and public entities like churches and nonprofits should step in, he said.

“We all have the same goal,”Prichard said. “We want all people to have health care, even people who can’t afford it. I would argue that having the government be the primary vehicle for providing it is not going to get us to that goal. It’s going to make the situation worse.”

Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, evoked Jesus’ words about Rome and taxation.

Raschke cited the New Testament passage when Jesus, after being asked if Jews should pay taxes to Rome, said that people should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Jesus was against strictly political or economic solutions because he thought they were too easy when it comes to the real challenges of human life, Raschke said.

“Writing checks won’t solve social problems,” Raschke said. “One has to get involved. If we see someone in need, we just don’t throw a dollar at him or her. You get to know them, you offer yourself, and ask what you can do for them.”

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

There are some Christians, though, who say that charity isn’t enough to solve the nation’s health care problems.

An estimated 32 million Americans could lose health insurance if “Obamacare” is struck down, including children who can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and seniors who get help paying for their drug prescriptions. Most observers say health care costs would continue to rise.

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Some people believe the health care situation in America would be scandalous to Jesus because he was a prophet concerned about social justice.

Steven Kraftchick, a religious scholar, said Jesus comes out of the tradition of Jewish prophets who preached that the health of a society could be measured by how well they took care of “its widows and orphans,” those who had the least power.

Kraftchick said there’s a famous story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus heals such a person. He was the man who called himself Legion. He might have been called homeless and mentally ill. The man roamed a graveyard, so tormented that even chains could not hold him and everyone feared him, Mark wrote.

Jesus healed the man not only physically, but socially as well, according to Mark. The man returned to his community with a sense of dignity, said Kraftchick, a professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

“A move toward universal health care would be fitting with the prophetic traditions,” Kraftchick said. “When you read the New Testament and look at the signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, it’s always connected to being physically healed.”

Yet Marcia Pally, an authority on evangelicals, said many evangelicals are wary of government doing the healing.  Their reasons go back centuries.

Many are the descendants of people who fled Europe because of religious persecution from countries and state churches. They fought a revolution against a government in England.  And they settled a frontier, where the virtue of self-reliance was critical, said Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Suspicion of government is part of their historical and religious experience, said Pally, a professor at Fordham University and New York University.

Those attitudes, though, may be changing. Pally said she spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She discovered that a new generation of evangelists now believes that certain issues are too big and complex to be addressed by charity alone.

“Some note that charity is very good at the moment of emergency relief but it doesn’t change the underlying problem  unless structures that keep people poor, sick or deny their access to health insurance are changed,” she said.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the legal debate will continue. If more Americans go broke or die because they do not have health insurance, more Americans may ask, what would Jesus do?

But don’t expect any easy answers from the Bible, said Raschke, the religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

“People are always looking for support from the Bible for American political positions,” Rashke said. “Would Jesus be against abortion, or would he support a woman’s right to choose? It’s almost become a standard joke in the theological world that you quote Jesus in American politics to support your political views.

“The teachings of Jesus do not fit into the views of any political party."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. ElmerGantry

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things stated once again and again and again Ad Nauseum,
    "Prayer changes things"

    Earlier I challenged you to do something positive for humanity by praying to stop the international forced sëx trafficking of an estimatated 800,000 people.

    To wit,

    I see your prayers to stop the estimated 800,000 people who are forced into sëx traficking across international borders have not worked.
    Wait since prayer changes things that means you have not been praying to stop this scourge on humanity.

    Why won't you pray to stop this repulsive human abuse?

    Matthew 21:21:
    I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
    _______________________________________________________________________
    [A true believer can ask a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will be done. LOL!]
    _______________________________________________________________________

    Mark 9:23
    All things are possible to him who believes.

    Luke 1:37:
    For with God nothing will be impossible.

    John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    John 14:14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

    Nothing could be simpler or clearer than Jesus' promises about prayer in the Bible.

    So there you have it, straight from Jesus in the New Testament in clear, simple, and unequivocal terms.

    You are a sincere believer are you not?

    Time to put up or shut up.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Answer

      They won't ever put up. It's in their nature to just keep up with the drivel because it is all they have left.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • ONE TRUTH

      Isaiah 55:8-9
      8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
      neither are your ways my ways,”
      declares the Lord.
      9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
      so are my ways higher than your ways
      and my thoughts than your thoughts.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @ONE TRUTH,

      Since "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" is not following Jesus's own words to end that scourge on humanity, why don't you.

      I take it you are a sincere believer so why dont you follow words of Jesus himself and pray to end the sëx trafficking of human beings.

      Perhaps you are more up to the challenge than "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" is.

      Give a try and make the world a better place. You are not afraid of failure are you?

      I will be watching the news for your success.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @ONE TRUTH,

      no success yet?

      Perhaps tomorrowI will wake up to the amazing news that sëx trafficking has stopped the world over.

      I won't hold my breath!

      June 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I prayed again today and, so far, I have not participated in any acts of human trafficking.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Bill, if prayer is the only thing that keeps you from being a sèx trafficer, you are one sick puppy. The rest of us know that it is wrong to do this.

      Elmer's point is that your god states that if you have faith and ask him to do something in prayer, he will do it. So how come, if you folks are praying for sèx trafficing to stop, why does it keep going on? Why is your god not doing what he said he would do?

      June 29, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  2. Sagebrush Shorty

    Jesus wept.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  3. Tarley

    Jesus would be too busy turning over tables at all of the Souvenir shops in all the European cathedrals to worry about health care reform.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Jesus turned over the table at the Temple because he was going to be the sacrifice and people would no longer need to sacrifice animals.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      He also turned over the tables of the money changers... that wasn't about making sacrafices, that was about making profits.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Mass – it was about clensing the Temple of numerous things and prophecies being fufilled and made. There is a lot going on in this Chapter. The Temple authorities franchised merchants to sell animals for Temple worship and moneychangers in the courtyard. The money changers would exchange Roman coins (with the images of the emperor) with Jewish coins (without an image), so worshipers could remain ritually clean.

      2:16 "Do not make the house of MY Father a house of business!" Jesus used a wordplay to make his point. Here, the word "house" referred to the extended family ("the house of my Father") and to a building ("house of commerce"). Jesus objected to reducing the relationship people had with God (symbolized by worship) to making money. They key here is, by setting up the businesses in the courtyard, the Temple authorities denied the place of the non-Jew in the family of God. Temple leadership gave merchants an area for trade that should have been off-limits. While Jesus drove out animals and overturned tables, his real message was to the leadership. Give all nations a place in the Kingdom. More important, he revealed to his followers what kind of Messiah they followed. He was not a Messiah for Jews alone. He was a Messiah that would lead everyone to God.
      God Bless

      June 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  4. abbydelabbey

    Jesus gave us the parable of the good Samaritan. He gave us many instances where He healed people, even on the Sabbath.... So, what would Jesus say? What does the Bible teach us?

    When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:1-2

    Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatian 6:2

    Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. Prov. 31:8

    The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern. Prov. 29:7

    I could go on and on....

    Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Answer

      Oh look a bible quote. That must mean it settles everything.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  5. related

    Abortion for everybody that needs it, that wants it – she shall have it. Jesus

    June 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  6. Mike

    Jesus would have said that it is the responsibility of his followers to take care of the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the poor. I doubt he would have said it is the responsibility of his followers to put in place a law to require other people to take care of the sick, feed the hungry and clothe the poor. Then again, most of the people claiming to be followers of the Christ today really don't follow what he said, do they?

    June 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • related

      Jesus was no genius. Just another dumb hippie that cared more about his drugs than followers.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Isn't this painting in really broad strokes? I mean go to a homless shelter or a food panty they are all most all run by Christians with donations from Chirstians. We are really wealthy in this country so you don't see the poor like you do in developing countries. I mean in the developing world you see religious people on the streets with the poor. The Catholics alone have the Missionaries of Charities as just one of its many charities which is in 123 countries world wide. They are also the ones that sit under bridges in the developing world and fish out newborn baby girls that people didn't want who is more poor and more vulnerable than a newborn left to die?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  7. YES

    YES, OF COURSE.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  8. joe

    Jesus would not support health care reform. He would just heal everyone and make it unnecessary.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • the fox

      Then, why did he make them sick to begin with ????

      June 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      fox please tell me you're not really that dumb

      June 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Apparently 'fox' doesn't believe in fairy tales Bill, thus dumb would be you!

      June 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  9. Nas

    You CANNOT be a Christian and disagree that EVERYONE should be covered, regardless of their financial status.

    Christians are hypocrites.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • LT

      regardless of their financial situation??? You DO realize that if they don't pay, they'll be slapped with a federal tax lien against their property and their property possibly foreclosed on and sold a U.S. Treasury Auction. The "coverage" is NOT what you think it is. Do research.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Nas

      I think the pay-for-healthcare system of the US is fundamentally flawed to begin with. All of the incentives are towards less medical care. Canada's system is MUCH better and if you think Americans have a better system tell me why Canadians on average live longer?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Billy

      But you can also not be Christian by forcing everyone to do what you view as the right thing.
      In many way Christ held views that would be considered socialist, but with Christ you opt-in instead of being forced.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Yes you can. If it violates divine laws that were intended for the good of man. No one has lobbied harder for universal health care than Christians, they weren't expecting when it finally came that the same law would require them to violate God's laws on human dignity which they wont.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  10. Christine O'Boyle

    Jesus, as portrayed in the New Testament, never aligns Himself with men as we think He should or will. I think He cares more about how WE listen to each other, love each other, care about each other, talk about each other and even think about others. We make it very complicated and He made it very simple, He said, "Love me above all else and then love others". These thoughts (His Words) should govern a Christian's conversation about ALL things no matter where they stand on an issue.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • cnnmembuh

      Yep. So simple, yet so difficult for us to get through our thick skulls sometimes.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Christine.

      Agreed. Perhaps it is unfair to ask someone who has defined the meaning of Christianity so succinctly, but why all the bilious hate from people who profess Christianity?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  11. Samuel

    If Jesus were alive right now, he'd be cold and out of breath. How high did he float anyways?

    June 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  12. LT

    Would Jesus support health care reform? I'll answer that question with an even better one. Were in the Biblical account of his life can you find that he would have need of health care reform? Everyone and I mean EVERYONE who came to him was healed of ALL of their sicknesses and diseases. Health care reform??? none needed.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • pcon

      Paul was not healed of his "thorn in his flesh" (2 corin. 12). Christ physically healed some, but spiritually heals all who believe in him and gives us everlasting life in heaven.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  13. dowdotica

    politics+religion=death of society. so if we are now beholden to theological politics I'd say its time to eliminate tax exempt status from the tax code. no more freebies!!! i'm sick of watching an listening to the hippo-crits that brainwash and preach one thing and turn around and do another...

    June 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  14. ionymous

    Would Santa Claus?

    June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Saint Nicholas would probably look to Jesus if that is your question. Or are you just being ridiculous?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  15. 4LIFE

    Jesus would in NO WAY have been for any measure that provides funding for the killing of unborn children. It's that simple.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • dad23

      I could not agree more!

      June 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • JW

      Jesus' dad LOVED killing children. He was genocidal.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • ionymous

      As a Christian I believe when a baby is born alive it's a miracle... God's gift. Logically I must believe when a baby is stillborn it's God's doing. So God kills even the unborn. It's not as simple as you suggest.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Yeah... "God" wants to do it hisself...

      Here's one Christian genius's take on it:

      "God ordered the killing of entire populations, presumably including the killing of babies and children. Isn't God unrighteous in killing these innocent little ones? First of all, the Bible indicates that all people are sinners, including babies, and worthy of judgment. However, the Bible also indicates that children are incapable of making moral choices, so that they are automatically rewarded with heaven. So, in having babies killed, God is actually doing them a favor, since, if they had grown up opposed to God, they would have gone to hell."

      http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/killergod.html

      June 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

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

      Into other things?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Nas

      You remind me of the idiot parents that decided to let spiritual healing cure their child of a serious illness. The child later died. Christians are retards.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • JW

      When I see prayer grow a war veteran's leg back, then I will believe. Until then, I disbelieve.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • john the guy not the baptist

      Alcohol is not healthy for children or other living things.
      Booze changes things.
      Proven.

      Hey A
      Your religious beliefs and faith have become a serious addiction as seen by your obsession of posting the same drivel over and over again, trolling, with never a new thought. Of course you could be one of those evangelical jesus freaks that make a good living out of selling the religious BS and doing a little faith healing on the side, the power of jesus flows through you, no doubt. There seems to be enough su*ckers in the bible belt to keep your lot going, after all, sheep were made to be sheared. Peace and love to you and yours. Hug an atheist, we are not as bad as you think, your hatred is hurtful.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      What you have not succeed in ending the international sëx trafficking of humans yet.

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things stated once again and again and again Ad Nauseum,
      "Prayer changes things"

      Earlier I challenged you to do something positive for humanity by praying to stop the international forced sëx trafficking of an estimatated 800,000 people.

      To wit,

      I see your prayers to stop the estimated 800,000 people who are forced into sëx traficking across international borders have not worked.
      Wait since prayer changes things that means you have not been praying to stop this scourge on humanity.

      Why won't you pray to stop this repulsive human abuse?

      Matthew 21:21:
      I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done." If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
      _______________________________________________________________________
      [A true believer can ask a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it will be done. LOL!]
      _______________________________________________________________________

      Mark 9:23
      All things are possible to him who believes.

      Luke 1:37:
      For with God nothing will be impossible.

      John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

      John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

      John 14:14 If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.

      Nothing could be simpler or clearer than Jesus' promises about prayer! in the Bible.

      So there you have it, straight from Jesus in the New Testament in clear, simple, and unequivocal terms.

      You are a sincere believer are you not?

      Time for the troll to put up or shut up.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven conclusively

      June 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~You are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!.!.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  17. Joe

    Do you even have to ASK that question???

    June 28, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  18. Greg

    Yes, no-brtainer. Next.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  19. cnnmembuh

    Jesus would like to see everyone cared for, housed, comforted, welcomed, clothed, fed, etc. But would He be in favor of a government mandate with a Robin Hood approach to all such issues? At some point, it becomes unsustainable and the misery index shoots through the roof for everyone. Yes, we have a moral obligation to take care of those who can't take care of themselves. It's a question of how best to accomplish that imperitive.

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

      Rich Camel Needle

      June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • abbydelabbey

      Try Act 4:32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.

      Notice the last phase - they shared everything they had......

      June 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  20. maxine howard

    Not without reading it first.

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

      The omniscient don't have to read a thing.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:27 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.