Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Church, Patriotism, and Universal Healthcare

Praise the lord
I'm an introvert and definitely not a leader, so I have a hard time "changing the world" in the traditional, extroverted way.  The best thing I can do is to bring a little awareness of social injustice to people who aren't informed or really haven't given a lot of thought to certain topics.  Then the extroverts and leaders can address the serious problems that plague our world.  Not just our country, but our world - which extends far beyond our man-made political borders.

For several years now, July has been a frustrating time for me as a church-goer (have I mentioned this before?).  The weekend before Independence Day, American churches decorate their sanctuaries and lawns with American flags.  At some point during the service, there is an emphasis on American exceptionalism and how we were founded as a "Christian nation."  One friend, who also feels this way, told me he tried a local Mennonite church one year, thinking that surely a traditional peace church would avoid all this patriotic fervor; he was wrong.  So I stopped going to church the weekend before that holiday.

In the buckle of the Bible belt, most people are extremely conservative, both religiously and politically.  The latest political hot button issue for them is the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).  Over and over again, I hear how it is "socialism," how it is "not biblical."  (No one has actually explained to me what "not biblical" actually means; I think it's a catch phrase they use whenever there is something they disagree with.)

Yet, if we were truly a "Christian nation," it seems to me we would want universal healthcare.  Not necessarily Obamacare, but some type of system that would ensure that ALL Americans, especially the least of these, had access to health care.  What can be wrong with that?  I mean, having public schools certainly smacks of what some call "socialism" (and it doesn't sound the least bit biblical).  Despite the flaws in the public school system, I doubt that many Americans would advocate for eliminating it. 

And speaking of being biblical, anyone who has read the Bible knows Jesus healed the sick.  In fact, it was a major part of his ministry.  Notice Jesus' lack of judgment when it came to healthcare:  he never asked them if they deserved it or if they were slackers.  Jesus simply saw their pain and fixed it.  In John 14:12, Jesus said we would not only do the some things he was doing, but that we would "do even greater things than these."  Perhaps what he meant was that we would find a way to care for all sick people, not just a few individuals.  So, if we want to be "biblical," it seems a Christian nation would spend a lot of time and energy (and money) seeking ways to provide healthcare to everyone, not just to those whose employers provide it or to those who are eligible for social programs like Medicare.

For individuals who have difficulty understanding what it is like to be a member of the working poor, watch this video clip based on Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed:  On (Not) Getting By in America.  Keep in mind the book came out in 2001, before, this latest recession.  (And a shout out to my blogger friend Deanna of The Well-Groomed Hippie who brought the video to my attention.)

Now tell me that Christians should oppose some type of universal healthcare.

1 comment:

Deanna said...

I'm glad you liked the video. Like you, I think "not biblical" is just a way to label something people don't agree with. It's a cop-out.