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

Would Jesus support health care reform?

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

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

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

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

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

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

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

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

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

Trust God or government?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. jimbo

    He's DEAD, people!!! Who gives a rat's @$$ what he would have thought?!?

    June 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Q Kim

      Resurrected. You've got to read the rest of the Bible.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Throb Hungwell

      Yes, the Romans definitely forgot Zombie Rule #2 – Double Tap

      June 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  2. Chris

    It's articles like this that make me tune out CNN more and more. For every good story, they have about 20 stupid ones, maybe more.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • jimbo

      You found a good one?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • peridot2

      This is the Belief Blog, lackwit, it's not a story.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
  3. Chris

    Jess asks that we do the Father's will through true charity.


    June 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  4. Dean

    Amazing - Liberals have tried to remove God from every aspect of our lives and now they ask "what would Jesus do?" to promote their agenda.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Erik Jensen

      Only to try and talk some sense into conservatives. Apparently, Ayn Rand or Jesus are the only things they understand.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • snoozie

      Erik is absolutely correct on that note. We are trying to communicate on your level.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • shwmin

      a liberal atheist cannot talk on any level with out looking foolish

      June 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • peridot2

      God loves Liberal Christians, Dean. He loves us all equally.

      Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  5. ElmerGantry

    Quoting bronze/stone age tribal culture writings makes it right. LOL

    June 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Sorry meant for ONE TRUTH.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • shwmin

      you said...Quoting bronze/stone age tribal culture writings ..

      And those writings are???? Which tribal cultures? And you are an expert on this how?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Get a clue

      There is no health care or coverage issue. Get over it. This is a scam by the insurance companies, doctors and pharmaceutical companies. No one can afford healthcare because they are ripping us off. With all the commercialization of drugs, promoting made up diseases and disorders, these companies are already brainwashing this country that everyone is sick and if you take there littel pill you can ' sleep better, get rid of skin disorders, etc.' The side effects are worse than the dsupposed disorder to begin with. The goverment is now a drug dealer and America is full of drug addicts that will be conned into thinking they are sick. And the best part of it is, now we have MANDATORY healthcoverage. Everyone can get free meds and float on a cloud of Lunesta....... The benefit is, we get to pay +50% of our check in taxes to cover it. THANKS FOR THAT!

      June 28, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • ElmerGantry


      Those quotes given by ONE TRUTH are right out of the bible.
      So genius, when and by whom do you think the bible was written? If it was not written during the bronze/iron age by tribal Jewish people who did?

      You are the bible expert so you tell me.

      Trying to discredit the message by redirecting hte conversation and discrediting the messenger is so intelligent, logical, well reasoned. NOT

      Using disinformation techniques like Ad Hominem attacks, name calling, misdirection of attention, etc, are the techniques of those who have no viable, logical, or well reasoned comment.

      Nice try.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • shwmin

      Atheism is WORTHY to be attacked at every possible moment.....You made the statement, All I did was call you out on it....

      June 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • peridot2

      The Old Testament was written by Hebrews. The New Testament was written by Greeks, Aramaics, and other ethnic peoples, so it depends which one you're referring to, Mr Gantry.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  6. Bob

    Why don't we ask Santa and the Easter Bunny too.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Hello!

      Santa and Easter are heavily bogged down in a religious war against the insurgency of Bing-Bing The Magic Tap-Dancing Chicken and his dark minions, but if you leave a message, they will get back to you as soon as they can.


      June 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Mari H

    The Jesus I am familiar with has no need whatsoever for any kind of health reform. He is the ultimate healer. He will do away with all sickness. hallelujah!

    June 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • snoozie

      How has that been working for you so far?

      June 28, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  8. Joel

    I don't know. Let's ask Zeus, Allah, Krishna, Mars, Yahweh, or any of the other myths, what they think. I think that once the people in our society start thinking for themselves, we will be just fine.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Dean

      Can you provide one instance of proof that anyone has ever seen Zeus?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Josephus


      Hercules saw Zeus.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • jimbo

      @Dean Can you provide proof that anyone ever saw Jesus? Mind you, I said proof, not the Jesus Fables or other writings of Christian mythology

      June 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Q Kim

      Actually, the problem with society is that people do think for themselves but based on each person's own/personal interests or perpsective. This has gone on for time immemorial. Therefore, wouldn't it be more rational and logical (your god) to conclude that having people think for themselves would result in the same old problems that have always existed. Aren't you really just saying that only if everyone in the world was just like me (smart, rational, logical, analytical, etc...) everything would be better?

      June 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • shwmin

      JIMBO...here is your proof outside the bible.

      Thallus (52AD) , Pliny the Younger (61-113AD), Suetonius (69-140AD), Tacitus (56-120AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD), Phlegon (80-140AD) , Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.), Celsus (175AD) , ........These all were non biblical accounts......Escape from atheism while you can before it wipes your common sense out the window...I did....

      June 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • UncleM

      Um Scwimm – look at the dates you're quoting. I hope you are not a policeman.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • shwmin

      Apparenly UNCLE M ..you havent read these, Have you.......Take the time you might be enlightened.....

      June 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      Your listed historians simply reported what the new Christian cult claimed about their hero - hearsay. They all lived and wrote long after the alleged life of Jesus.

      Josephus and Tacitus had more references to Hercules than they did about Jesus.

      Read more extensively here: (if you dare)


      June 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  9. Shockobynium

    Who gives a flyin F#*k

    June 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      People who take the time to respond with something other than expletives

      June 28, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Shockobynium

      Oh F#*k, thanks for f#*cking clarif#*kingfying that for me!!!

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

      I wish I was shocked

      June 29, 2012 at 10:03 am |
  10. ionymous

    Ever think that CNN is just creating flamebait?

    June 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, every day here. Now at 3,500 posts, most of them off topic.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • peridot2

      No, but others frequently do so.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  11. Oluwaseun FASUGBE

    Jesus would have done better than the Affordable Health Care. He would have made healthcare a free for all enterprise! I did not remember anywhere in the bible where Jesus charges anyone for his healing. Compassion-meeting-needs was his modus operandi!

    June 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • USMC Captain

      Coming to die for all mankind's sins was his "mission"....Teaching His word through love and compassion was his way. Has nothing to do with ObamaCare....

      June 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  12. dupper


    June 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  13. Richard Cranium, Christian

    Jesus invented health problems in the first place. Healthcare is nothing but a rejection of his will.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Chuckles


      I could create a better argument by eating a can of alphabet soup and taking a sh.it

      June 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Peter Gobbler, Christianer than you

      Amen, Brother... Jesus would have been flipping over tables to get at John Roberts today...

      June 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Paul of Tarsus

      Shhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! That's how we came up with the Bible! Ixnay on the oup-say oop-pay evalation-ray!!!

      June 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  14. The Obvious

    If anyone thinks Jesus would be anything other than a Democrat, then they are in denial.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • USMC Captain

      Jesus would be an Independent. Because the idea of being completely wrong half the time kinda goes against the whole omnipotent thing...

      June 28, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Driver

      C'mon. Everyone knows that Jesus is a hard core Republican. Every man , woman and child for himself. I got mine, you get yours. Government is bad. ( except to build roads, bridges sewers , airports ,; provide police and fire protection and laws to protect people and property so that the rich can get and stay rich.) Just ask Bush, Rush Glen Beck, Sarah Palin & Company. They got a direct line to Jesus.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Shockobynium

      Actually, Jesus would have been Republican because he still supported the tax system while evading it himself.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  15. Unrelated

    Most things that people spend their time on is not useful, so call my a cynic, but religion is a total waste.

    Mark Twain

    June 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • z

      Mark was a follower of Christ but didnt believe in man made religion. "If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian." Mark Twain

      June 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  16. germgaz

    Jesus preached socialism. Of course he would approve of medical coverage for every citizen.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Unrelated

      Yeah, sure, but he didn't have to pay for it!

      June 28, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • USMC Captain

      wrong again...Jesus taught us to love one another. He was also kind of big on making decision for your own and owning up to your own responsibilities as well as mistakes. But yeah – we can conveniently leave all that other stuff out that doesn't support your "argument".

      June 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Scott

      Jesus taught that charity was an individual responsibility. Jesus frequently compared God to a wealthy property owner. Jesus commended the ability to earn money as an investor. What of that says socialism to you?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What about non citizens?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  17. Jack

    On this day – everyone is invited to – thestarofkaduri.com

    June 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  18. Christian Woman

    I would gladly ask Jesus about this, however, he can't seem to get the pee pee out of his anus or his mouth so he can answer. You'd think a little boy wouldn't be so hard on him.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      And you wonder why people are disgusted with you

      June 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • snoozie

      What does that comment even mean?

      June 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  19. Pope on a Rope

    I would ask Jesus his thoughts on healthcare reform, but he's too busy mowing my lawn.

    June 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • USMC Captain

      Not funny....but absolutely hilarious....

      June 28, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Yes I am.

      June 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    Matthew 22:36-40
    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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

      Quoting bronze/stone age tribal culture writings makes it right. LOL

      June 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm |

      @ELMERGantry 1 Corinthians 18
      18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

      June 28, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • UncleM

      @one truth – your basic problem is that myth is not truth.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

      @UncleM 1 Corinthians 18
      18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

      June 29, 2012 at 10:29 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.