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Is God Really Against Health Reform?

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That sound that you're hearing is the resonance of prayer becoming indistinguishable from the din of just another negative campaign ad.  A coalition of social conservative groups took to the Internet in recent days to host an online "prayercast" titled "Government Takeover of Health Care."  To be sure, abortion was on the minds of the organizers, which included such organizations as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.  But what's sad, and even a bit shocking, is that the overt religious objection to specific health reform provisions didn't end there.  Folks were asked to pray over the "significant threats" we face from supposedly higher taxes, health rationing, and against "our general freedoms posed by the government plan to take over health care," according to the organizers.  Gosh, I hadn't realized God had announced positions on taxes. And I somehow missed His coming out against the public option. I guess I am uninformed: I need someone to educate me as to the Scriptures in which I can find God's specific policy pronouncements. For that matter, are His position papers included in the New, or the Old Testament?  While we're at it, I'll have to be sure to see how God scores members of Congress on their votes on climate change, immigration reform, and the Democrats' jobs bill. 

Now, I'm not really naive. I've watched conservatives increasingly mix religion and politics all of my adult life. And the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have been among the more influential groups doing so for much of that time.  What is novel here, in a very disheartening way, is the new granularity this prayercast represents in trying to put God's heavenly imprimatur on earthbound government.  The trajectory this takes will soon have pastors telling their flocks that God has said the estate tax should be so-and-so percent — but no higher. Or that Jesus wants such-and-such government program to be zeroed out.  The prayercast organizers try to cast their activity in a more benign light, saying they are merely "obeying the Biblical mandate to pray for our nation and its leaders."

To be sure, our nation has a long and honorable tradition of men and women of the cloth leading Americans to pray for our leaders, that God bestow His blessings upon them. Those prayers, however, historically did not include taking sides for or against those leaders.  But the politicians invited to the prayercast were Sens. Jim DeMint and Sam Brownback, as well as Rep. Michele Bachmann — conservative Republicans and staunch health reform opponents all. Not a pro-health reform lawmaker in the group, no pretense of leaving things to God's divine hand here.  It is, of course, entirely unfair to portray any policymaker who may have a view that is even slightly at variance with whatever the decreed Christian position on any given issue may be, as going against the word of God . The entire exercise also would seem to devalue Christianity itself.  After all, Jesus Christ is a divine source of inspiration, not just another K Street lobbyist. He died on the cross to save His children. He didn't do so to support or oppose any specific piece of legislation.

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About Scott Nance

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    When threatened different people react in different ways. Some people elect to take political action. Some decide to prepare for revolution. Some choose to pray. Some write articles on Blogcritics.

    While I think that prayer is a basically useless response to the serious threats to our welfare and liberty the health care bill poses, and I’d rather see them take almost any other course of action, at least this prayer campaign attracted attention and helped to publicize some of their concerns with the legislation. Can’t fault them for that.

    Anything we can do to stop this monstrosity of a bill now rather than having to try to reverse the damage it will do after the fact.
    If prayer helps, I’ll take it. We’re that desperate.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Two points of agreement, Dave.

    It is a monstrosity of a bill

    Prayer is better than bashing heads.

    This much said, I think it’s ludicrous that Americans would resort to prayer to combat what’s essentially a right kind of idea.

    It speaks volumes, I’d say, for the state of the nation.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    But we already knew religious fanatics were nuts, Roger. It’s not a revelation. These people hardly represent a serious constituency, and most who follow them probably only consider prayer one of their many avenues of activism. Or at leas tI hope so.

    And while the IDEA of health care reform is a good one, the overwhelming consensus is that this approach is a terrible one. So there really is something to be concerned (or pray) about.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, there is something to be concerned about. It’s just that this prayer-fest leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.

    We should be capable of more constructive responses.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Not to diminish or discount the power of prayer, I should add. Except that in this case, it’s grossly misdirected, both to a believer and nonbeliever alike.

    And yes, this should be cause for concern, that America has produced this kind of people.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’m a little unclear as to what’s going on here. Are the organisers of the prayer group straight-out claiming that God doesn’t want the public option – or is everyone just supposed to pray that Congress comes up with the right solution?

    If the latter, I don’t have a problem with it and Scott’s article becomes just a strawman.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think it’s accurate analysis, Dreadful.

    I have no problem at all with praying for the wisdom of our government officials, including Congress.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    What’s truly disturbing to me as a strong Christian is that these “Christians” in Congress are using their supposed faith as a political tool.

    The Bible tells us that prayer should be secret, and while it is not wrong to lead others in prayer in small groups or in a Worship Service, it is certainly wrong to pray ‘for show’. Jesus said: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

    But since the rise of the Evangelicals in the 80’s, they’ve been used – manipulated! – by the Republicans to preserve the conservative power base.

    David Kuo, the former deputy director of the White House office of faith-based initiatives, accused the Bush administration of using evangelical Christians to win votes but then privately ridiculing them once in office. He wrote, “National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ridiculous, out of control, and just plain goofy,” In particular, he quotes Karl Rove, the president’s long-serving political adviser and mentor, as describing evangelical Christians as “nuts”.

    I first began to realize how easily ‘mainstream Christians’ could be manipulated back in the 70’s while watching Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. I couldn’t stand Jim Bakker – too smarmy by half – and I was so sad to find out that my grandmother had sent him monetary donations.

    The Evangelicals are so easily manipulated…and the Republicans leaped at the opportunity and turned them into the Religious Right. What the Republicans did makes perfect political sense; but for those of us who are Christian and who can see what they did, I can only liken it to the manipulation of the beliefs (religious, political, racial) of children. It is every bit as distasteful and dishonorable.

  • Clavos

    The Evangelicals are so easily manipulated…

    The inescapable conclusion is that fundy christians ARE stupid…

  • B Nuckols

    What we’re against is the funding for abortion, that’s enough. We also object to Obama’s refusal to support the right to conscience: overturning the regulatory protection for health professionals was one of his first EO’s.

    Jesus told us that we’d always have the poor with us. The duty to care for the sick and poor is between Christians and our Savior. The government has not proved itself a worthy steward for that personal duty.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    I guess it’s okay when Obama used the faith-based and scripture to make the case FOR ObamaCare this past summer.

    Obama Looks To Heavens (health care)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    overturning the regulatory protection for health professionals was one of his first EO’s.

    Really? Which one? I can’t find any Obama executive orders on the subject.

  • Jordan Richardson

    God’s against higher taxes and more government, so therefore he must be against universal health care.

  • Baronius

    Right, Christine. It’s somehow ok when Bill Clinton gets his picture taken on his way into church, but wrong when George W. Bush does. There are two reasons lefties get a pass on politicizing religion. One, the suspicion that they don’t really mean it; two, the fact that they’re invoking God for a “good” cause.

    Mitt Romney has to explain his religion; Harry Reid doesn’t. Jesse Jackson is a moral voice in politics; Mike Huckabee is trying to destroy the separation of church and state. Hillary Clinton campaigns from the pulpit in Selma, Alabama; Sarah Palin’s church gets burned down.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    1 – No one complained when Bush got his picture going into a church. But if you want hypocrisy, we can talk about Newt Gingrich shouting to the rooftops about Clinton’s enjoyment of a novel use of a cigar, while ol’ Newt was carrying on an extramarital affair of his own.

    2 – Lefties ‘get a pass’ on religion because we don’t have a recent history of trying to impose it on others.

    3 – Mitt Romney didn’t have to explain his religion to Democrats, because we really didn’t care. He DID have to explain his religion to the not-real-fond-of-Mormons Evangelical Right.

    4 – I don’t see “bloody-shirt” Jesse Jackson as a moral voice anywhere…but I can’t find anything about his beliefs about evolution. Huckabee, however, denies evolution and advocates the teaching of creationism in schools.

    5 – Your comparison of Hillary and Sarah is a non-sequitur. The church in Selma has a particular history concerning racism, and since the 1960’s most Democratic politicians (unlike their Republican counterparts) have made a point of reaching out to minorities. When it comes to racism, however, check out why Sarah Palin decided to stop attending college in Hawaii (according to her dad).

    Baronius, all you tried to do was build strawmen. Please try to hold yourself to a higher standard.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Mitt Romney has to explain his religion; Harry Reid doesn’t.

    Good point. And it’s not fair. They both wear magic underwear, therefore neither should be in public life.

    Jesse Jackson is a moral voice in politics; Mike Huckabee is trying to destroy the separation of church and state.

    Actually, Mike Huckabee is a fine man and Jesse Jackson is an opportunistic pig. Jesse uses religion to advance his personal agenda, Governor Mike lives by his faith. (Betcha didn’t see that one coming, huh?)

    Hillary Clinton campaigns from the pulpit in Selma, Alabama; Sarah Palin’s church gets burned down.

    Oh please. Apples and oranges. Hillary Clinton has political acumen; Sarah Palin is a reality show caricature.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    God’s against higher taxes and more government, so therefore he must be against universal health care.

    Jordan, we assume that God cares about people, therefore the monstrous health care bill would be contrary to his interests.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    I wish I had magic underwear. I hate my muggle underwear. It’s so boring. I bet that if I had magic underwear, chicks would totally dig it. Everyone would be like, dude, you won’t believe that guy’s underwear. It’s magic.

    You know, when you’re snowed in, and you start getting squirrelly, the whole magic underwear thing starts to make sense. I’m beginning to suspect that Mormonism is just a mass case of cabin fever.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Good point, Silas. But ultimately, appeals to God in matters of legislation should be a private matter. They can’t seem but ludicrous whenever they reach public forum in our society.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Interesting link on Palin, Glenn.

    She is a red-bloodied American.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/realist Realist

    I notice no one has made the connection between Christians attempting to usurp the power of the government to determine what are laws are to be and the Muslims of certain lands who insist that the dictates of the Koran supercede the laws of man. Yet one is good while the other is bad.

  • Irene Wagner

    Realist, that’s the thing about the American government. It’s pretty much made to be “usurped” by whoever pounds the pavement or the pulpit the hardest. You want things to change, go out and start “winning friends and influencing people” among the people you’re so afraid of.

    You’re afraid of them. They’re afraid of you.

    I’m a Christian, but apart from trying to get people to see abortion as a human rights issue, I don’t have much in common politically with the religious right.

    Just thought I’d get that out of the way.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Yes, and school boards too, Realist.

    They both wear magic underwear, therefore neither should be in public life.

    People who wear underwear should not be in office.

    Baromius,

    Try telling chicks that you have magic underwear and ask them if they’d like to see them? Yeah, yeah…that’s the ticket…I bet women would really go for that. (muttley snicker)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    That should have been an ‘n’ and I changed it, but apparently I made the same mistake the second time.

  • Irene Wagner

    Baronius is temporarily off his rocker, Cindy. I’ve been in snow like that before. YIKES.

    I’ve heard it desribed like lingeree for guys. WHich is ironic in the extreme.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    You might say he is under the weather.

    (but don’t because you have children and they will probably laugh at you if you do)

    Always good to see you too, Irene. :-)

  • Irene Wagner

    Cindy, all this underwear chat gets me thinking of a song by Heart, though..oh OH, OH oh oh oh …magic pants…OH…got the magic pants…oh.

    Kind of like Frosty the Snowman’s top hat, I guess.

  • Irene Wagner

    I shouldn’t be making fun though, because it really hurts Mormon’s feelings. They never take it off, so its kind of like making fun of someone’s birthmark.

    Anyway.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    How can God be against health reform when we have a Blue Cross to protect us?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Because it’s a monstrosity of a bill, Silas, sheer Obamanation! And make it “Red Cross” next time, will ya!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    And Baronius.

    You still haven’t answered the question I put to you: What precisely do you mean that “culturally, we must try to improve the world.”

    So what exactly do you mean by that? What should our stance be? To combat what we deem as unlawful exercise of power and privilege or go along with the flow, in full obedience to the state and powers that be because they’re the representatives of God and his authority on this lousy earth?

    And what about fighting darkness with light? Don’t we have the obligation?

    Didn’t Christ expel the money lenders from the temple for unseemly practices and for defiling a place of prayer? Didn’t Catholic Church “outlaw” usury because it deemed it as detrimental to our health?

    So how can we claim that all charity must begin at home and start and end with individual persons and their kind, charitable hearts, and that the State has no business trying to remedy the obvious injustices while the Catholic Church took precisely the opposite position?

    Or perhaps, as you might ably argue, it had done so merely out of appeal to the goodness of human heart?

    Given that the human heart, according to the Catholic dogma, is inherently evil, it would appear that the injunction was intended as something more and infinitely more stronger than mere appeal. It was, to say the least, a downright condemnation. And what if the Catholic Church had the requisite powers to implement its edicts? What then?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    #31 – intended for another thread.