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:
denying quality affordable healthcare to people so that the wealthiest people can get even more money = powers and principalities #demonic
— Nadia Bolz-Weber (@Sarcasticluther) 5 May 2017
Evangelical pastor Nate Pyle of the Indianapolis-area Christ’s Community Church tweeted:
You cannot say you take the Bible seriously and believe raising the costs of healthcare for poor people is just.
— Nate Pyle (@NatePyle79) 4 May 2017
You can talk about taking the Bible literally, but if people don’t see you caring for the poor, sick, & marginalized they won’t believe you.
— Nate Pyle (@NatePyle79) 4 May 2017
Christian author and speaker Nish Weiseth commented:
If you are vocally pro-life & anti-abortion, but have remained silent on the ACA repeal bill, you no longer have credibility in my book.
— Nish Weiseth (@NishWeiseth) 4 May 2017
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.Google+