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Christianity and the health reform debate

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Christianity and the health reform debate

I've read a few posts to the effect of, "If Christians believe in helping the poor, why are so many of them against the health reform package?"

These posts have made me mad, and that madness has nothing to do with my position on the reform package itself.

The left has long criticized the Christian right for letting politics mirror their religion. Frankly, a lot of the criticism has been warranted. The role of government is not to allow us an outlet to legislate our religious beliefs.

But that's what's so wrong about the argument being presented regarding health insurance reform. To say that we should support the reform package because the Bible says to help the poor is the same thing as saying we should oppose gay marriage because the Bible says homosexuality is wrong.

We can't use legislative action to disseminate our religious views. We like to and we often do but it's not right and it must stop.

That goes for both sides of the aisle.


Blogger watchman declared,

Yes, you are totally correct here, Joey. The thoughts and expressed were terribly simplistic and hypocritical within the context provided.

However, a few balancing thoughts, (since I am a guilty party in this):

1. After the bill was passed, there was a rash of status updates and tweets to the effect of "God is judging us" and "there goes 'Christian' America." I saw one person tweet something comparing Obama to Emperor Nero. The conservative Evangelical panic was off the deep end and it was clear that it was a religious matter to them. So, the response (in 140 characters or less) was "yeah, Jesus never helped poor people." It was a simplistic and silly response, but many of the panicked masses had it coming.

2. For many on the left end of Christianity, political activity is an outgrowth of their faith. For instance, many mainline Christians believe in liberation theology and much of their faith is wrapped up in socio-economic issues. I think they are incorrect and imbalanced in their approach, but nonetheless, the passage of the Health Reform bill was a religious experience for them.

Religious beliefs informing political stances is far from wrong. IN fact it is good, even from a secular perspective. For me, my perspective on sanctity of life is a direct outgrowth of my theological framework. But, when these issues are discussed on a policy level, such perspectives must be limited. There is no real way to argue with a person who says "God told me to."

3. I received an email from a neighbor saying that Health reform was a "godless act by godless people." The religious overtones to this entire debate were set a long time ago and it originated on the right. It was wrong to shape the debate thusly, and it was equally wrong to react in the same shrill way. But, one crazy comment leads to another, I suppose.

Once again, you are correct in your critique. The reality is that political conversation (rhetoric) is nastier, more polarized, and full of more religious overtones than i can recall (on both sides). A few months ago, I actually heard a speaker on Christian radio give a Biblical argument against campaign finance reform.

Its ugly. But, I should have been part of the solution, not part of the problem.


3/23/2010 11:47 PM  
Blogger watchman declared,

Please don't grammar police my previous comment. I just re-read it, and it is terrible. Sorry.

3/23/2010 11:50 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Thanks for the comment Corey. The post was actually prompted by some things I read from a couple of people on Facebook. I don't recall feeling that way about anything you had said.

"Religious beliefs informing political stances is far from wrong."

I agree with that in the sense that religious beliefs are what really motivate us in general. However, I think we have to be able to make a nonreligious defense for any political position we take.

On the sanctity of life, I don't think that's an issue that has to be tied to our religious beliefs at all.

So yeah, I may not have stated that clearly enough. I don't mean to discount religious beliefs informing and influencing our political perspectives, but I don't think they should be part of the public policy debate.

3/25/2010 10:05 AM  
Blogger watchman declared,

Agreed. Policy's that use the rationale "Because God said so" are usually totalitarian in nature. It is the type of thinking that ayatollah's use, not civilized leaders of a free state.

3/25/2010 5:10 PM  

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