home
RSS
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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Arms of Hope

    Danny – Calm down, you seem to be very hateful. What business is it of you to see the same person posting the same thing over and over again? I have seen worse. Where is the love man?

    June 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Danny

      Well, I meant for it to be a single comment to, y'know, attempt to get someone to stop making a laughingstock out of Christians. Like the same way Camping was predicting the rapture... Don't lump me with you or him...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  2. Ben

    People haven't had healthcare for years and I don't see any churches stepping up to take care of them so these pastors arguments are lies. So Prichard, if I need $500,000 worth of medical care, will the Lutheran church step in and pay for it?

    June 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      You know you are full of lies and if you had faith in Christ, you would be healed instead of begging for $500,00 worth medical bills that you don't even have.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • JWT

      Faith heals all illness – No absolutely not.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  3. John in AZ

    I'm glad we take the time to consider whether someone who died over 2,000 years ago would agree with something that he would not have understood in the context in which he lived. It is SUPER useful!

    June 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  4. ariyahu

    the name of j-e-s-u-s is only 500 years old.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Steve

      But his existence is from everlasting to everlasting.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • John in AZ

      @Steve-no man, I'm pretty sure he's dead. I'm no Biblical scholar, but I hear he was like...crucified, or something 🙂

      June 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      John in AZ – You think he is dead and don't know how he died?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • John in AZ

      @Arms of Hope–It's called "humor" man, look it up!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      sam – Arms of Hope directed his comment to an atheist, that I am pretty sure. They come to religious blogs and start complaining like immature little 5 year old.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  5. Steve

    Yes, Jesus would support health care, but it would look very much like it does in Canada and Europe. We would not be forced to pay for it or be taxed. It would be built into the tax system. We already have paid for the costs associated with research and development of treatments associated with various diseases with our tax dollars. Why is it that the U.S. is the only developed democratic country that believes health care is a privilege. The Bible is very clear that we are to care for our fellow man. However, the Bible is also very clear that the nature of man is SELFISH.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  6. DJR

    How stupid! JESUS is GOD. He would not even involve himself in the discussion. But it is what people have done, GOD Obama!

    June 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  7. ariyahu

    the name of the messiah isnt j-e-s-u-s, its Yahusha.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Hmmm, many times have I called in the name of Jesus and Yahweh has answered most of my prayers.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • sam

      In bed doesn't count, Arms.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      sam – But of course it counts. I've called him in bed many times and even in bed he answers.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Danny

      Arms, you seem to be very good at reading into things wrong, Here, let me try: You call out to God many times in bed? You are taking the name of the Lord God in vain during marital relations? Sinner!!! Burn him (or her)!!!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Danny

      Ah, you are so blessedly, non-awaredly innocent, aren't you, Arms...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Danny, perhaps if you had called Jesus into your marriage you would still have it.

      June 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  8. glenview0818

    Why is alwyas some greedy capatalist organization talking about what Jesus would want and not want.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  9. Borismkv

    The day that doctors can touch someone and heal them without training, you can start equating Jesus to Universal Healthcare. Then there's the fact that Jesus often required acts of faith on the receiver's part for healing. Jesus would have been going around caring for people, not demanding someone else do it like Democrats do.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  10. GodFreeNow

    Jesus would recommend people leave their families, and not even take the time to bury your dead father to follow him. Apparently, only men need apply as women are treated as 2nd class citizens in the new testament.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Sorry to see that you were left behind. Does that mean you don't have anyone bury your body when you die?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Thankfully, my family doesn't listen to jesus.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      So, why are you complaining then?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Commenting on what jesus would do is complaining? Interesting.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  11. Anne

    Are you out of your mind ? Why use Jesus? Why not instead writte about the power that Mr Soros holds on the Democrats.
    As a believer of Jesus, I believe in help yourself an in miracles, I was left witpout medical insurance by my perfect husband that resigned to his top executive position with a well known company in the middle of my chemo treatment for breast cancer.
    I prayed and went looking for a job, I found it and that is how it should be, but many are too lazy to look for work.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • czar33

      Best wishes with staying cancer free, extreamly happy that you got a job and now are paying your dues to Social Security, Sounds like you were a 'KEPT' women when you were married, I have way too many of them in my neighborhood in Northern Somerset County New Jersey, They are lazy and need to know what it is to work. God Bless You!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • evensteven

      Yes, some people are lazy and don't want to get a job. However, to simplify the argument in such a way is to fail to account for millions of people who are self-employed and cannot get insurance because they do not provide a large enough pool to qualify for any kind of affordable rate. Then there's the self-employed who have pre-existing conditions who are denied coverage through insurance companies.

      The big problem is insurance companies make as much off their policies as they put out in claims. This effectively doubles the cost of health care in the United States. The insurance companies are huge parasites which add no value, are prone to fraud, etc., etc. The system would be simpler and much less expensive with a single-payer insurance pool. Yet the fear-mongers have successfully conned much of the public into believing this would make the U.S. socialist, communistic and inherently evil . . . insurance companies are inherently evil because they profit from doing nothing but count their money and deny coverage to sick people.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  12. Flex

    Funny and strange when Obama need approval, suddenly Jesus comes into play, otherwise separation of Church and State is mandatory. Hey media and CNN, you're full blown Hypocrites!

    June 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • CNN

      You too, you shut your whore mouth!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  13. Dudley

    Time to hangup your claim to being a news organization. Please turn of your website and leave the internet.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • CNN

      You shut your whore mouth.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  14. Tony Stark

    Screw all this, let's go for shawarma.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  15. La\

    Christ would have not been a democrat or a republican because His ways are not corrupted as humans are. Thank God for faith that has brought physical healing to my body. I am happy for what Obama is doing.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    June 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Amen!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Danny

      Do you really have nothing better to do? Then PRAY and make a difference, dangit!

      June 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Danny, what exactly are you doing to make a difference for others?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Danny

      Hm... I travel around the world ministering to churches. Teach free music lessons to those that can't afford them. Witness the Gospel to those the Spirit prompts me to. Pray *ahem*. And not internet troll... shall I go on?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Danny – Wow, really, you do all of that? So where is the love? I don't see you expressing love for the person you replied to. Works without Faith is dead. Works alone without love is useless. Boast about Christ, not what you do for others because you are just glorifying yourself and not the Lord.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • sam

      omg, Arms, Danny just hasn't done enough good? Now he has to show love to an internet troll too? What does it take to make you happy?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Danny

      I was not hating on him (or her). Read my comment again, now with the assumption that I am just longing for him to stop posting the same thing a thousand times and get out and actually do something. "I will show you my faith by my works", not "I will show you my faith by internet trolling"

      June 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • at the judgement

      Many will come and say Lord Lord did we not do great things for you , we traveled the world ministering to churches, gave FREE music lessons to those who could not afford them, witnessed the gospel when "prompted", etc. etc. And God will say begone I never knew you.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Danny

      Not that this is even the place for this, but what do you say gets you to heaven? Maybe that will clear something up...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      at the judgement – Amen, brother!!

      I pray for these self-righteous and self glorified people who boast about what they are doing for others.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • sam

      ps Arms, you were snotty to that poster at the bottom of the page, so, you know, STFU.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Matt

      Dude stop asking people what they've done to help others & then "buh self glorifying". Please.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Danny

      Good thing you are praying where everyone can hear you. Sounds like a hypocritical Pharisee, no? I merely defended the claim that I am not doing anything for God. Can I do anything right? Shall I cover myself in sackcloth and ashes and say I have never done a thing for God, even if I was empowered by Him? Wouldn't that be not giving the truth?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • JWT

      You keep right on doing Danny – god is not necessary for anything.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      sam – Arms of Hope directed his comment to an atheist, that I am pretty sure. They come to religious blogs and start complaining like immature little 5 year old!

      Sorry, this was posted under the wrong person.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Danny

      *ahem* I meant I defended AGAINST the claim that I do nothing for others... Thanks for defending me, but I do believe in God. That is the only way this shy, selfish guy could have amounted to anything...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • JWT

      There is nothing wrong with believign in god as long as you know where it stops/

      June 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
  17. Danny Eichinger

    Why do my comments disappear?

    June 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • what

      Jesus moderates, and he said no to some of the posts.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Danny

      I very much doubt Jesus moderates CNN... I doubt he would even allow a article this idiotic...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Well, depends what you are saying that others are taking their time to remove your comment.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Danny

      What i mean is that it never appeared in the first place...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • sam

      It's a ridiculous automated word filter that doesn't like certain letter combinations – no one moderates these boards.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Danny

      Ah, that explains it. Its okay for CNN to say "h0mOsmexual", but not ok for me...

      June 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ---
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      nip-ple
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      que-er
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sl-ut
      sn-atch
      sp-ank
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-oon
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      strip-per
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!
      There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).


      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Danny

      Whoa. that must have taken at least a fortnight to discover all those. Unless you have a really fast computer... 🙂

      June 28, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
  18. Slum Lord

    If the zombie returns I'll have to charge lower rent. Keep the poor poor and I make money.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      What profits the man to gain the whole world but loses his soul. What can you give in exchange for your soul, Slum?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • NCT

      Such blasphemies.....Do you feel your butt getting warm?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  19. smadam1

    give to Caesar what is Caesars', give to God what is Gods'. or something.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  20. Emperor Impreza

    lol, Article sucks.

    June 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • HeIsGod

      And yet here you are reading it. Who forced you to click on it?

      June 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      And reply, LOL

      June 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      Error error error.

      Should be and commented, LOL

      June 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • OTOH

      HeIS,

      It is often necessary to read an article in order to make an assessment of it.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Arms of Hope

      Well, you seem to have made yourself look like a total fool. Thanks for playing.

      June 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101
Advertisement
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.