May 9, 2017

Progressive Evangelicals’ Health Care Shaming

Recently longtime Evangelical Left activist Jim Wallis, approaching age 70, warned of dire consequences if the American Health Care Act, or “Trumpcare,” passes the Senate and is signed by President Donald Trump.

“This bill is the definition of putting the interests of the wealthy ahead of the most vulnerable members of society,” wrote Wallis. “Trumpcare would strip away health insurance from the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled via $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid, in order to finance a tax cut north of a trillion dollars for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.”

Indeed, I can’t help but get the impression Wallis isn’t open to disagreement. Even so, there are good, non-rich Christian women and men with varying approaches to this debate who want to see the most vulnerable access health care.

There’s no specific formula for a Christian health care system. You wouldn’t know that if you listened to Wallis tell sexual assault victims and pregnant women (of which, I am one) that under the new health care bill their “insurance companies may be able to charge you more for health insurance.” [Emphasis added]

No devout Jesus follower wants to take away health care from the sick, poor, and the vulnerable. But unlike Wallis, we don’t all place assurance in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare” as many have taken to calling it. Especially when we saw the ACA’s Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate try to force Catholic nuns to violate their conscience. Nuns, by the way, who take a vow of poverty and commit their lives to serving the elderly poor.

Not all conservative Christians argue for the merits of the Republican health care bill either. Some are simply unsure of the best method. After all, health care legislation is notoriously complex. Other solid Christian voices out there want less government control of health care. And they too seek care for the needy, making Progressive Evangelicals’ shaming of anyone in favor of repealing the ACA over the top.

Wallis isn’t alone. Other members of the Religious Left hurl similar accusations of power grabs and uncompassionate conservatives.

After the American Health Care Act passed in the House, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber tweeted:

Evangelical pastor Nate Pyle of the Indianapolis-area Christ’s Community Church tweeted:

And this:

Christian author and speaker Nish Weiseth commented:

Seemingly these progressive Christians assume the more statist the approach, the better. I wonder if any have read the ACA’s 20,000 pages of regulations to know for sure the law is the most compassionate solution. Since many Congressional representatives who voted for the act in 2010 didn’t read the bill in its entirety, I’m guessing no.

I’ve no interest in arguing the merits of the Republican health care bill here. My intent is simply to point out the Religious Left’s exaggerated accusations, fearmongering and public shaming are telling on two levels.

First, the health care debate shows the Religious Left’s ever-increasing political partisanship. Yes, partisanship. Some liberal Christians have established lucrative careers on the grounds of condemning the Religious Right’s unquestioned loyalty to Republican Party policies.

Interesting then to hear Liberal Christians’ clarion calls for twitter followers to call their Senators to vote “no,” echoing or sharing Democratic representatives’ talking points, stirring fear on the basis of presumptive state regulations, and shaming those who disagree on policy specifics. It’s just as bad as anything they’ve criticized from the Religious Right.

Second, we see the Religious Left’s lack of serious Christian reflection on the best delivery agent for health care and other essential human services. History provides many reasons for doubting that government is the best method to aid the vulnerable and marginalized. But I’ve seen no hesitations, no discussions among progressive Christians when it comes to unquestioned support for the ACA.

If you’re going to tweet blanket statements advocating for the ACA or greater government control of health care, may I suggest you provide detailed arguments for why it works best and equals Christian compassion and charity.

Christian compassion does not equal government control.

3 Responses to Progressive Evangelicals’ Health Care Shaming

  1. Cole says:

    To sum up your article “I have no idea what to do about health care, but I don’t like left wing Christians telling me I’m bad for wanting to deny it to the poor.”


  2. Cole:

    Medicare (for the elderly) and Medicaid (for the poor) have been in place for decades. Hospitals are required to treat anyone regardless of funds or coverage.

    Nancy Pelosi publicly admitted she didn’t know what was in the ACA as she advocated for its passage. And no-one had any way of knowing what the 20,000 plus pages of regulations deriving from Obamacare would require. The administrative state would have its own way with things after passage of the law.

    You have absolutely no grounds for claiming that the new proposals deny anything to the poor. And your belief in government provided health care is revealing.

    Are you a big fan of the care the VA “provides” to veterans? That’s what single payer looks like.

    And you want all of us, including the poor, to have it as our coverage?

  3. Riddick State says:

    I left Christianity because of the hypocrisy of Christians and this discussion makes me remember why… the body of Christ is weak and false in it’s love. Did Jesus charge the 5000 when he fed them or put conditions on taking the food…no, he had compassion. Did he heal only the deserving, no…did he die for the hard workers and relegate the lazy, undeserving to hell. His salvation was there for the asking. ACA may not be perfect, but it is a good step toward helping the poor and sick better. It is complicated but what else could it be if it serves a nation of over 300 million people. Both sides need to work to improve it. We are a wealthy country and can afford it. Stop being selfish and follow Christ’s commands in the Sermon on the Mount. Read what Jesus’s brother wrote in his service of the Church in Jerusalem. Open your hearts and love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *