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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. Disciple

    Does this sound like Jesus is concerned with Democrat vs Republican?

    If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:

    But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

    For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
    Deuteronomy 15:7-8,11

    For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    Matthew 25:35-40

    July 10, 2012 at 3:07 am |
  2. Howard B. Hassman

    No question: The road to hell is paved with good Republicans – and other Neocons. Notice how the narrowist of minds proclaim God's taking sides instead of the other way around?? That will forever remain such a mentality. John Q. Public

    July 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  3. Circesadreim

    No, he wouldn't support it. Jesus didn't come here to shape government and tell politicians the various ways they could steal from one group to give to another. His instructions were given to us as personal teachings, not as an advocate for a certain type of taxation.

    July 9, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  4. James

    Jesus so would not be a Democrat...THE BIBLE SAYS, IF YOU DON'T WORK, YOU DON'T EAT...He would not have approved of waitful spending, gay marriages or anything else the Democrats long for...Helping the needy is one thing, helping people who won't help themsleves is a Democratic Philosophy....Idiots..

    July 9, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • SAM

      What about those who are trying to help themselves by going to college to improve their chances of financial security. How does republicans want to help those who are trying to help themselves. By trying to increase the interest rate on student loans. Way to help those who help themselves. Idiot.

      July 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      Hey wonderful...someone who speaks for Jesus. Glad we finally have someone who thinks they speak for jesus and knows exactly what he would and wouldn't support. What outrageousness, what arrogance...perfect definition of christian

      July 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Mike

      well, the Baby Jesus is my favorite and he would be for it because my Baby Jesus also has asthma and type-1 diabetes and he's really psyched about not being denied care on account of his pre-existing conditions.

      so there.

      July 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      Hitler and Stalin had the same program: if you don't work, you don't eat; and if you were among those out of favor, it didn't matter how hard you worked, you still didn't eat well. Comparing Jesus to Hitler and Stalin, as you seem to want to do, means you're way off the mark. Get back into your thinking position.

      July 9, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • phoodphite

      You're the idiot for thinking the Bible is a thing that can speak. Wouldn't try to guess how Jesus would have dealt with the idea, but I would imagine he would have have encouraged everyone to think about their neighbor in making their decision. Now the pompous apostle Paul, who frequently strayed from Jesus' ideals and who wrote all the judgmental part of the NT probably would have been against universal health care. And whenever a Bible thumper (the ones that say the bible speaks) wants to put someone down, guess whose words they are going to quote? They have to quote Paul because Jesus was not about judgmental, disenfranchisement stuff. If you're going to follow Jesus, then at least go back and see how many times he told even his closest followers that they missed his point or soon forgot it. And we're supposed to believe that many years later, Paul knew any better? Please.

      July 9, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  5. KM

    The republicans worship the mighty dollar, not Jesus.

    July 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Dean Patrick

      Jesus was fairly clear about a few things: The true Kingdom was not of this earth and he had a mission as an advocate for the poor and oppressed.

      July 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • TacTam

      Liberal Dems are about squandering taxpayer's money!

      July 12, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  6. James Joseph

    Jesus would absolutely NOT approve. He said,"increase and multiply", not "kill your baby it's a woman's right to choose".
    He would also remind women and everyone that the baby has rights too, and that is the right to live!

    July 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Glenn

      In the first century to increase and multiply had significance. In a world of 7 billion would he say the same thing.

      July 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Glenn

      Why do you speak for Jesus ?

      July 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Bijouandbucky

      How wonderful! No right to choose so all those unwanted babies can finally be born. If republicans get their way and repeal the health care act, those babies will die young since their poor foster parents will not be able to afford medical insurance. I think Jesus was quoted as saying, "Easy come, easy go," right?

      July 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  7. Jesus the most powerful figure known to mankind (Fact)

    Would you debate with someone who argues that the sky is yellow, up is down, left is right, a tree is a lamp, or black is white? You debating with this person would leave both parties looking like fools. Christians please stop wasting your time on people who argue that our world and galaxy was made from nothing/has no Creator. I honestly believe that many years ago no one predicted that the world would get bad to the point that people are debating that this perfect system of life is a coincidence. Christians dont indulge in foolishness you will be looked upon as a fool as well.

    July 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • jwt

      Better do some work of facts and fiction then. Jesus is not a fact,

      July 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The new artifact is an ossuary, a medium-sized box in which human bones were placed for permanent burial after the flesh had all decayed away. This practice was employed for only a brief period of time from about B.C. 20 to A.D. 70. The box is made of a soft, chalky, limestone, common to the area. The contents have long since vanished.

      Most remarkably, an inscription has been etched into the side which reads, "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" in the Aramaic script of the time. Careful studies, including scrutiny under a scanning electron microscope show the inscription to be genuine. The patina, or oxidized surface equally covers both box and the interior of the etched letters. The recognized expert on such matters, Dr. Andre Lemaire, concludes: "I am pleased to report that in my judgment it is genuinely ancient and not a fake."

      July 9, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Primewonk

      Except, of course, that what you have posted is a lie. Those of us who do understand science do not claim that everything came from nothing. In fact, that is exactly what creationism posits. That your god poofs everything into existence, from nothing, fully formed.

      Science, on the other hand posits that the universe began with the expansion of a singulariity. And it was the exxpansion that started time. We say that with out current math and physicis we can say what happened before time started. That is a nonsensical question akin to "what is North of North?"

      I wonder why you fundiots continue to lie like this?

      July 9, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  8. Bob

    Not sure whether Jesus would preach about Obamacare, but we can be quite sure what he would have said about abortion-on-demand – something like "repent, go in peace, and SIN NO MORE". Would Jesus have been a Democrat? – no chance. Would he have been a Republican? – no chance.

    July 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  9. Chris

    This is like asking, "Would Jesus have liked the Roman Empire if they did a better job at providing health care or taking care of the poor?"

    July 8, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jay

      First of all I don't see Jesus as a judge in that respect. I will say I don't think Jesus would be happy that a President passed a bill with very deceptive means. I don't think Jesus would like Dems taking from Seniors Medicare program (Over 500 billion) who have actually paid into the system, and chances are many Docs will no longer take Medicare patients.
      I think it is wonderful to help the poor, but stealing form one group to give to another is very sad. I think Jesus would perfer Companies and corporation donating to build hospitals like Danny Thomas did for Jude Hospital in Memphis. I don't think Jesus or God would think that created a new system when one's country is over 15 trillion dollars in debt, and lie to people about the projected cost. However I feel like Jesus is forgiving , but would perfer a better system for all, since there will be a huge shortage of Doctors., and the Health care law is going to destroy our country financially, and give us a very low quality of medical care.

      July 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Glenn

      What would Jesus say about relying on the generousity of the wealthy for healthcare. Is it happening today in sufficient numbers to cover those uninsured ?

      July 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  10. Sebastian2

    As an atheist, I still believe that many of the teachings of Jesus offer good life lessons. Selflessness, charity, mercy in the face of evil, compassion for the despised, etc. These are all values many so-called modern Christians are pretty far away from these days, IMO; many have become smug, arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thous who've turned their backs on the more downtrodden of society.

    But as for trying to decide what Jesus would do with Obamacare? Sorry, I'd prefer religion stay out of the healthcare issue; I'd prefer a REAL actual plan of ensuring healthcare (be it government based or privately so; just as long as it happens) for ALL those who can't afford it rather than put my trust that invisible beings in the sky will make it all better somehow.....

    July 8, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • jstan442

      don't tell me to keep my religion out of government–that is exactly where it belongs–so you would rather the gov. decide what you or your loved ones need if you are in the hospital–have you not read about the u.k. and the dr. who said that 130,000 elderly were left to die of thirst and hunger IN the gov. run hospita(in one year out of a total of over 250,000)l??or that they are thinking of closing hospitals farthest away from the cities?what about canada and the ppl who have to wait months for tests??nope you think our gov. will be more caring??and don't forget about the PANEL of non-elected ppl to decide what ppl are eligible for what medical procedures–obammy's czar holder is ecstatic becoz they can implement slowly the idea of only those between 15-55 yrs. old should be given the best care becoz they can contribute more to society-don't think it can not happen–in australia some ethecists have decided that maybe post-abortions can be done by the parents/society if the child is 'too much of a burden on society or the family'–yeah you atheists or naturalists have no compassion-don't pretend you do–there are too many things you all have pushed on the rest of society and have helped destroy it just to make yourselves feel good and justified

      July 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  11. margo ducane

    Of course not. If Jesus was involved there would be NO sickness or death.

    July 8, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Sebastian2

      There was plenty of sickness and disease 2,000 years ago when he was here the first time around. His presence alone didn't stop it all...

      July 8, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • righturn clyde

      Jesus = Mindless Sheep

      July 8, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  12. Chris

    I think the Savior is clearly against Obamacare. On every level.

    He's all about glorifying the Father. He's all about charity. He's all about folks VOLUNTARILY making sacrifices for their fellow man.
    Obamacare FORCES people to give their money to insurance executives, even as it tells them to congratulate themselves about how very compassionate they are. There's no charity or love involved in that. There is only pride, which is evil.

    In fact, the ostensible motive for Obamacare seems entirely evil. (Punish those who you judge to be free-loaders).

    July 8, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Chris

      The real (hidden) motive of Obamacare is much more sinister than simply "lets get those folks who we judge to be not paying enough".

      July 8, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Sebastian2

      Jesus NEVER told his followers to keep their money! That is ludicrous. He told shepherds to lose their sheep. He ransacked the temple when he saw it became a commercial enterprise. He was against the acquisition of wealth and material things. And how could ANY Christian justify keeping even more of their money that their fellow humans might suffer?

      Modern Christians have become a very materialistic bunch.

      July 8, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • midwest rail

      @ Sebastian – that should have read " Modern faux Christians ". That would be most of them.

      July 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  13. germgaz

    Jesus was a socialist! Of course he would have approved. Got to Matthew and read about the separation of sheep from goats - no going to church in these lists. No standing on corners and witnessing. It is all about taking care of those around you - SHARING! His message to the rich man? Sell all you have and give to the poor. Obamacare would be at the top of Jesus' list. Just read the Bible.

    July 8, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  14. Jim

    Has anyone read the bible? Do you know why Jesus christ died on the cross? To suffer for our sins that we may be forgiven and..... here it is listen closely to give us free will. Thats right free will to make our own decisions. Not have a government or some left or right wing organization tell us how charity works or how we should be done. When i read this head line i couldnt believe the Obama loving media actually did this. How dare they try to use Jesus Christ to promote there agenda. Shame on you!

    July 8, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • jwt

      Full national health care is the only real way to go.

      July 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      reasonable men may disagree

      July 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Bijouandbucky

      OK, here's the rub. You want free will to choose whether or not to pay for health insurance. But even if you don't, you will need medical assistance at some point or other, probably many times in your life. So if taxpayers end up paying for your hospital visit, you are taking away our free will to choose whether or not to pay for your emergency operation. If republicans want to repeal the health care act, I say go ahead. I am an atheist and a Darwinist. Republicans should also repeal the guaranty that people receive medical treatment regardless of their ability to pay. Let them die. We will be left with a healthier and heartier generation. But don't take my tax dollars to pay for some lazy indigent. I'm pretty sure that all the people who lost their jobs did so because God wanted it that way, God also wanted them to lose their health insurance, I'm sure.

      July 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  15. Andurill

    Yes because Jesus was human oriented instead of money oriented.

    July 8, 2012 at 7:12 am |
  16. Someone

    If Jesus was for having everyone support each other, and having equalization between "rich" and "poor", wouldn't he be a Theoretical Communist?

    July 8, 2012 at 4:08 am |
    • Arvoasitis

      Probably the opposite is true, though opposites have a tendency to look similar. In communism, everything belongs to everyone and all goods are shared according to need. In a theocratic society, nothing belongs to anyone; everything belongs to God, and should be used by individuals responsibly according to their need. Jesus seemed to be opposed to hoarding, whether money or goods.

      July 8, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • Chris

      Someone,

      He wasn't for those things. Read the bible and see for yourself.

      July 8, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  17. justinstl

    yes he would be okay with it. But he would rather it be FREE for everyone! He was not a capitalist!

    July 8, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  18. pinkhaze

    YES

    July 8, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  19. edward

    where is this Jesus fellow now?

    July 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Chris

      He is mercifully giving you time to change your mind (repent), before He returns to give justice to God-haters and mercy to those who trust Him.

      July 8, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Disciple

      Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
      Acts 2:33

      July 10, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  20. A Reasoner

    If Jesus (i.e., 1/3 god) was for universal care, he would have not cured a blind man or a leper, but would have provided universal care by eliminating blindness and leprosy. Like so many we know, Santa is for universal health care, but won't take personal responsibility and give up his unhealthy lifestyle. Santa - get on a diet, lose the pipe, and take some stress management classes before December.

    July 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Glenn

      The "cynical dollar" has spoken.

      July 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
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