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. Ridge

    He probably wouldn't agree with government forcing its citizens to do something they don't want to do. That's why the Roman government disliked him, he was always stirring up trouble for them.

    July 12, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      The Roman government ignored him until they received complaints that he was fomenting a revolution. After the Roman authorities investigated they found no reason to proceed against him and declared Jesus an excellent citizen. Though Pontius Pilate was eventually prevailed upon to crucify Jesus, it was only to placate the Jewish authorities.

      July 12, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  2. Matthew

    I believe Jesus would have been bewildered and disgusted that our society encourages for-profit medical care...PERIOD.

    July 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  3. Oh boy

    Please do not confuse the followers of Christ with these bigoted banjo country biblethumpers who have no idea what being Christian means.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  4. Oh man

    Veggiedude, the difference is that he believed in FREE WILL. If a rich man wants to be greedy with his money and not give, that is his RIGHT. We should be giving, but the government taking our money, is not free will. I also can't see him being good with abortion either.

    July 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  5. bob

    I wish you guys would STOP with these engravined IMAGES of a WHITE Jesus. You know DAMNED well Jesus probably more than likely RESEMBELED Bin Laden in APPEARANCE!

    July 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  6. Grounded

    Jesus would be as confused as all the rest of us mere mortals, and he'd try to figure it out so he could get professional help when he isn't feeling well.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  7. Tommy123

    I think Jesus is wise enough not to trust that the federal government with more responsibility. The Federal Government has other programs that are spending more than most countries on earth on medical care but has one of the largest uninsured populations among industrialized nations. Maybe instead of having democrats create another irresponsible program that goes broke, we should have conservatives design a replacement for ObamaTax.

    July 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • JudgeDB

      Pretty funny comment there, Tommy, considering that other nations can provide much better national healthcare for less money than we spend on our crappy medicare program. Maybe if we didn't spend billions and billions a year on our damn military, we could actually take care of our citizens. The funniest part is that you are probably on welfare and food stamps and would stand to gain a lot from AHA (only idiots with no creativity call it Obamacare), yet you oppose it because Fox News tells you to.

      July 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Brad from Oakville

      Liberals should never use Jesus in a political argumument because they would loose every time. It was the words written in red that say give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a life time. I think runs against every belief that Liberals and Socialists have.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Brad from Oakville

      Liberals should never use Jesus in a political argumument because they would loose every time. It was the words written in red that say give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a life time. I think it runs against every belief that Liberals and Socialists have.

      July 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  8. PAUL

    Maybe Jesus Would Support The Monarchy:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8XSYpPwPrk&w=640&h=360]

    July 12, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  9. augustghost

    what a stupid article

    July 12, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • PAUL

      JESUS ALWAYS SUPPORT THE PEOPLE:

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dliYX-DHntg&w=640&h=360]

      July 12, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  10. Tommy123

    I think Jesus is wise enough not to trust that the federal government with more responsibility. The Federal Government has other programs that are spending more than most countries on earth on medical care but has one of the largest uninsured populations among industrialized nations. Maybe instead of having democrats create another irresponsible program that goes broke, we should have conservatives design a replacement for ObamaTax.

    July 12, 2012 at 3:14 am |
  11. Wilson Francisco

    The answer is "Then give to Obama's what is Obama's, and to God what is God's."

    July 12, 2012 at 2:58 am |
    • Tommy123

      So we should give Obama debt?

      July 12, 2012 at 3:09 am |
  12. Uaintdown

    No, but if it passed He could raise the dead and heal the sick.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  13. jack

    Who gives a s88t? What do we care what a first century "holy" man who believed that sickness was caused by demons thaught? You know at least 1000 times more about life and the universe than that primitive "holy" man ever knew. THIS IS NOT A DUPLICATE COMMENT.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:01 am |
  14. jack

    Who gives a s88t? What do we care what a first century "holy" man who believed that sickness was caused by demons thaught? You know at least 1000 times more about life and the universe than that primitive "holy" man ever knew.

    July 12, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  15. PAUL

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lThuhz45pDI&w=640&h=360]

    July 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  16. Tom

    Would Jesus carry a gun if he were alive today?

    July 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • howart Dao

      No gun. but definitely a passport because he was a little dark in complexion 🙂

      July 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Tommy123

      Would he trust the federal government with money when they act so irresponsibly with it?

      July 12, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  17. veggiedude

    No, Obama isn't the brown skinned liberal giving away free health care.

    That was Jesus.

    The conservatives of Jesus's time were against health care, but they were for capital punishment, unfortunately for Jesus the liberal hippy guy with brown skin.

    July 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  18. veggiedude

    I don't recall Jesus asking for money after he healed people. So clearly, he was not a capitalist. He also told people to give up their pursuit of wealth and love each other, and when it came to war to turn the other cheek; hardly conservative ideas.

    July 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  19. Jason French

    Being sick is not a 'social problem'!!!!...Its a physical on that often occured through no fault of ones own....

    July 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  20. Rob S

    Jesus would not take the bait. He'd look at you and ask of you personally – What's in your heart? And He'd wait for an answer, if it took the rest of your life.
    .

    July 11, 2012 at 3:10 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.