The following article originally appeared on the FrontPage Magazine website, and is reproduced with permission.
For the Religious Left, socialized medicine has long been almost the moral equivalent of the Second Coming. So increasing political turbulence for Obamacare is creating panic and fear among the true believers. Must we wait still longer, they now imploring wonder, with sadness and rage. (For a report about that call, click here).
Emphasize the rage. Sojourners activist Jim Wallis has issued a virtual public imprecatory prayer for Sarah Palin’s political destruction after her comments on Obamacare’s “death panels.” And a United Methodist lobbyist is denouncing Obamacare’s opponents as racists. Meanwhile, the President himself appeared on an August 19 Religious Left conference call, to rally true believers to our “core ethical and moral obligation.”
After Palin speculated that Obamacare could degenerate into “death panels” deciding who merits further medical exertion, Wallis responded with outrage and a very specific plea for Palin’s political demise. “Please don’t invoke your ‘Christian faith’ anymore and embarrass the people of God even further,” he fumed. “May your efforts to scare Americans during this important debate fail. May your political future also fail, and may your star fall as fast as it rose just a few months ago — because we now know who you really are.”
A righteous Psalmist of the Old Testament could not have inveighed against Palin with any greater fury or precision. Wallis is often likened by his Religious Left admirers to a prophet. But prophets and Pslamists called their audiences back to worship of God, not worship of Big Government. Palin’s sin, in Wallis’ eyes, is that she will not bend the knee to the altar of The Welfare State, which has been the object of Wallis’ fervor for over 40 years.
For good measure, and in supposed prophetic tradition, Wallis further denounced Palin as a “demagogue in the worst tradition of those who knowingly distort and deceive for their own political purposes” and who “prey” upon the weak and vulnerable. “Politics for people like you is really all about you, your fame and power, and your taste of it during the last election has revealed what kind of politician you truly are.”
In partial vindication for Palin, a U.S. Senate version of Obamacare apparently will delete any reference to providing end-if-life counseling that critics worried could become coercive, especially with elderly patients. But the “death panels” concern seemed to apply to a broader apprehension about government run health care, when government bureaucrats, with finite resources and infinite authority, inevitably would have to decide who merits further care and who does not.
For the statist mindset to which Wallis and the Religious Left passionately subscribe, government is simply a cornucopia of gifts and services, benignly bestowed, as an extension of, or even substitute for, God’s grace. But governments, unlike the private sector against whose “greed” the Religious Left perpetually warns, have coercive powers through taxation and law enforcement.
The corruptions and compulsions of a private insurance company, or medical practice, can be magnified ten thousand times by the federal government. Competing private firms could hardly orchestrate “death panels.” But can a national government? History of course declares that governments have often done far worse.
Understanding the moral limits of state power is foreign to the Religious Left, which imagines that expanding government welfare is always moral, and its critics, always sinister. In the conference call for Religious Left activists that Wallis convened for the President, Obama warned of “some folks out there bearing false witness,” of “divisive and deceptive attacks,” of “extraordinary lies,” and “fabrications.”
Accelerating the angry rhetoric about Obamacare’s critics was chief United Methodist lobbyist Jim Winkler, whose United Methodist Board of Church and Society is part of the Religious Left coalition for Obamacare. With typical perception, Winkler discerned that “Racism and fear is at the core of the anger” against government health care. Winkler helpfully recalled that after Obama’s election America suffered a “spate” of racial outrages, including “cross burnings, black figures hanged from nooses, schoolchildren chanting ‘assassinate Obama,’ and racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.”
In Winkler’s mind, the U.S. is a stewing cauldron that, at best, resembles the Mississippi Delta post-Reconstruction. “Numerous assassination threats have been issued against members of Congress,” Winkler darkly revealed. “Gun-toting people have shown up at town hall meetings. There is talk of armed revolution in the air.” As to the opponents of Obamacare, the United Methodist lobbyist surmised that the “consistent, inaccurate use of ‘socialism’ to describe health-care reform is a code word for racism.” Generously, Winkler admitted that racism was not the only explanation for opposition to Obamacare: “incredibly rich insurance companies are wary of any changes that might affect their bottom lines.”
Describing the reaction to his support for Obamacare from his own purported church constituency, Winkler complained of a constant stream of “virulent, nasty” and “incredibly sinful, ignorant statements from persons who claim to be United Methodists.” He denounced the “ugly rage demonstrated by many in our denomination and at town hall meetings” as “preposterous.” From dealing with recalcitrant, sputtering and ungrammatical United Methodists who do not share Winkler’s agenda, he knows “what it’s like to face people who have worked themselves up into a frenzy, who cannot control their emotions, who have lost all reason and sense of proportion.”
Resorting to Wallis’ imprecatory tone against Palin, Winkler quoted Isaiah about the unrepentant: “But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Wow, that’s violent language coming from a virtual pacifist. But evidently the vial of God’s judgment will be poured down upon all them with the temerity to question government run health care. For those, like Wallis and Winkler, who equate God’s Kingdom with Big Government, the punishment evidently cannot be soon enough.