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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. blaqb0x

    What would Jesus do? === What would Puff the Magic Dragon do?

    June 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  2. Voice of Reason

    Would Felix the cat support health care reform? I mean, really...?

    June 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Shropshire

      If there was salmon in it for him, he'd support whatever you asked.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  3. YouOnlyLive4times

    Hmm, that's a hard question to ask, since he doesn't exist.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  4. Eric Patterson, Th.D.

    The Apostles in the book of Acts established a commune where everyone was ordered to turn over their goods and they were then distributed to everyone equally so that nobody was overly wealthy or dirt poor. The New Testament also says that a Christian is to obey the governments because God has ordained them according to his purpose. What really upsets me are the conservative "Christians" who say such outlandish things as "liberalism and Christianity are incompatible" or "You cannot be a Democrat and a Christian". These "Christians" have obviously no understanding of scripture. By the way, I have a doctorate in theology so I know whereof I speak.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • shwmin

      Just curious...the scriptures to back up your statement are???

      June 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Shropshire

      Sphincter 1:42

      June 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • shwmin

      LOL....I thought so.....lol

      June 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Brampt

      @Eric- u are doctored in theology... So what? Look at who were the people that understood the bible in the past... No they were not doctored in theology, they were the humble people of the land, fishermen, the poor, not the intellectual...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Steve

      The Pharisees and Sadducees that killed Jesus had the equivalent of doctorates in theology too. Just sayin...

      I think the main reason that most Christians say what they do about liberals is the abortion issue. Period. End of discussion.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Steve

      But the Comforter, who is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

      John 14:26

      June 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  5. Duane st.pete fl

    stupid article.......who cares

    June 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  6. Lola

    Ask Assange

    June 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  7. Brampt

    Jesus would never participated in politics, period! He as the king of Gods kingdom will change things on earth he doesn't need conservatives, republicans, tea party evangelicals, Muslim brotherhood... He doesn't need party's to make changes... He himself will to changes!

    June 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  8. shut_up

    since bark odummy is a muslim shouldnt you ask if allah baba would support healthcare. jesus could lay hands on the sick and heal those who believe you dumbo

    June 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • Tarley

      Woot! Dumbo!

      June 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  9. Jack

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

    June 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  10. who cares

    What kind of stupid question is this?? And the fact that someone wrote an entire article about this topic goes to show just how crazy religious people are. This topic belongs on a religious website, NOTCNN... This is ridiculous!!!

    June 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Why would you conclude this? Religious comments and articles are protected under the free speech and free press. If you don't like anything religious on a website don't click on the article it's that simple.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jez

      I love your response. Religion makes people stupid. What next?... vote for the Tooth Fairy for free dental care??

      June 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Voice of Reason

      While I agree with your statement I don't agree with you using my handle.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  11. Andrew D. Sultzbach of Boston, Massachusetts

    Of course Jesus wouldnt have supported the bill. Why? Because the sick would be taken care of free of charge to begin with and no bill would be needed.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Guest

    I am pretty sure that Jesus would just go around healing and saving people. He is a living and breathing Health Reform. Truly 100 percent free!

    June 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things:

    June 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • 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 for the troll to put up or shut up.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~Prayer doesn’t not; 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 6:38 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven conclusively by elmer

      June 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jesus

      More lies – Prayer doesn’t not; 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 6:40 pm |
    • One one

      Child: Daddy, does god send people to hell?
      Father: Yes sweet heart.
      Child: Why daddy?
      Father: Because they don't believe in him
      Child: But daddy, I have never seen god, I don't believe in him either
      Father: Well, you are going to burn in hell sweet heart.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Since Jesus promises nothing is to large for a believer to ask and it will be done, that means that "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" does not believe hard enough and is a failure.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Atheism isn't a choice

      it is stupid followed to its logical conclusion.
      Atheism will never respond to the fake jesus as fake jesus has been found to be a person of low character and unworthy of response. As always atheism is not healthy for children and other living things is 100% accurate, prayer changes things.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Jesus

      "As always atheism is not healthy for children and other living things is 100% accurate, prayer changes things."

      More lies on top of more lies – Prayer doesn’t not; 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 6:45 pm |
    • nope

      nope

      June 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things
      Proven."

      No, you're a proven liar. Prayer doesn’t not; 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 6:47 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Atheism isn't a choice

      Non Sequiter or Poe's Law?

      A fair and balanced we report, you decide question.

      😉 LOL

      June 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • sybaris

      This person is pretty smart because whoever they are causes rational people to provide solid evidence that prayer does not change anything.

      Maybe the religious sheeple will take notice

      June 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • shwmin

      ELMER ELMER.....lol....you really dont get it do you.....Has atheism messed up your mind that bad....

      June 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Jez

      Only in your mind. Religion is ridiculous.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      @sybaris

      Looked up your screen name.

      Cool choice. 🙂

      June 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  14. TownC

    Forcibly taking from some to give to others is not a principle taught in the Bible. Coercion and threatening people with prison if they don't give is not a Christian value. Love, compassion, unselfish service are all things we ought to do. The rewards for showing charity are increased love and compassion for those we serve. When I pay more for my insurance and my "taxes" increase, I don't feel charitable. I feel cheated. Charity can not be forced. Persuasion, love and showing a better way is what the Savior did when he was here on Earth. He never forced people.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      He gave Lazarus a choice? hmm

      June 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Eric Patterson, Th.D.

      Actually it is. The Apostles in the book of Acts established a commune where everyone was ordered to turn over their goods and they were then distributed to everyone equally so that nobody was overly wealthy or dirt poor. The New Testament also says that a Christian is to obey the governments because God has ordained them according to his purpose. What really upsets me are the conservative "Christians" who say such outlandish things as "liberalism and Christianity are incompatible" or "You cannot be a Democrat and a Christian". These "Christians" have obviously no understanding of scripture. By the way, I have a doctorate in theology so I know whereof I speak.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Jeanine

      Overturning tables is not forcing? Saying its his way or the hell-way is not forcing?
      He clearly received zero actual information from his Jewish god or he would have known how to heal everyone at once, all of modern science and more, and still have enough left over for a sandwich.
      The guy was a fraud.
      He said he was magic, but none of the stories about him show any actual god-like knowledge anywhere. It's all a big fraud.
      Religion always is.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Catca

      The bill doesn't forcibly take from some to give to others. It gives people access to the risk sharing pool and they will have to pay monthly premiums, copays, deductibles, etc. just like those who work for large corporations or the government. The uninsured who choose not to get insurance is a small group and if anything happens to them, you will pay through higher premiums. The bill actually rectifies that. The bill also doesn't threaten anyone with prison who doesn't buy health insurance, and no one pays higher "taxes" if they already have health insurance or purchase a policy, unless they didn't want to purchase the policy and were just expecting to freeload off of others. I must ask you if it is really an expression of love and compassion to deny access to the health insurance market to tens of millions of people who are not looking to freeload off of you, they are looking to pay insurance premiums like everyone else. My 6 month old son was declined who had never been sick a day in his life for a "pre-existing condition" which was nothing but a pretext. The insurance company stated he was too tall for his age. That forced us into the high risk pool which is costing a fortune and I'm barely able to pay premiums which are much higher than what you would pay even if you paid your COBRA rate. I'm a christian, but I can tell you right now, my faith is not in for profit markets. Insurance companies aren't a charity with a mission to give access to all willing to pay. They have a responsibility to return profits to shareholders and will decline a baby under a pretext simply because there are so many unknowns with babies. Will they turn out to be autistic? Have asthma? Or any number of conditions that don't show up until the baby is a toddler or older. I am a small business owner and I am creating jobs but the health insurance market is killing me.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  15. MattC

    Please tell me this is a joke. Then, please explain to me why this is on a "news" organization's website...

    June 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  16. Aaron

    I love everyone quoting Jesus but not believing anything about him that does not fit within their personal comfort levels. Yes, Jesus said we are to care for the "least of these," but tell me, mister liberal, do you remember that he also said he is the way, truth, and life, and that no one can have any relationship with God apart from him? Hmm..gets awful quiet on that one. I would quote Jesus as relevant to my political views because I believe that he is who he claims to be...one with God and the only wy to salvation. If one does not agree with me, that is fine, but it is odd that he should quote Jesus as a way to invalidate my political views. I don't quote the Book of Mormon, because I think it's false. I dont quote Mohammed, because I don't believe he was a prophet or from God. Why anyone who believes that Jesus is either a liar, misunderstood, or delusional but well-intended would quote him to defend his own point is beyond me.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  17. One one

    Jesus would be against trans fats and super sized sodas.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  18. Xands

    ... If you want a government who's laws stem from some religious book: Move to Iran.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      If you want a government based on secularism move to North Korea!

      June 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Boy, I hope edmund isn't really that stupid.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      The Enlightenment Age is over. They believed that religion was alien to humans. Boy were they wrong! That's why a floodgate of spiritualies exploded into our society. Secularism is wrong. Spirituality is very much a part of human nature. Where have you been for the last 20 years Schticky?

      June 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Religion and spirituality are two completely separate things. But I guess you really are that stupid. Carry on, edmund.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  19. Lizzy10

    Whenever I hear about someone invoking that we should all count on God to get us through everything in life, I think of the story about the man in the flood. He heard on the radio that it was going to flood and he thought "God will save me" and didn't evacuate. Then the rain started and his house started to flood and a man came by in a boat and offered to take him with him and the guy said "No, God will save me" and he stayed. Then the water got flooded his house and he went on the roof. A helicopter came by and tried to get him to go with them buy he shouted up to them "No thanks, God will save me". The man drowned and when he came face to face with God, he was mad-yelling at him "God, I had faith in you, why didn't you save me"? God answers him "I sent you a weather report and boat and a helicopter what more did you want Me to do"?

    June 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • blaqb0x

      Lame parable. How can you attribute weather reports, boats, and helicopters when they are man-made?

      June 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      box because God works through people

      June 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  20. Jhawk

    Just remember, Jesus was a Community Organizer. Pontius Pilate was a Governor.

    June 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • edmundburkeson

      Judas was the community organizer. Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.

      June 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Tarley

      So he promoted the after party!

      June 28, 2012 at 6:50 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.