Belief Beat

(Updated at 8 p.m. EST to add Southern Baptist Convention and Church of Latter-day Saints, and more on Catholics.)

After assuring pro-life Democrats that President Obama would sign an executive order affirming that federal money would not pay for abortions, Congress passed its health care reform bill last night, 219 to 212. As Christianity Today explains: the legislation requires most Americans to have health insurance, subsidizes private coverage for low- and middle-income people, adds 16 million people to Medicaid — at an estimated cost of $938 billion over 10 years.

The initial reactions from religious denominations and faith-based groups have, predictably, range from concerned to congratulatory.

Catholics: Bishops are disappointed, Catholic hospitals and politically liberal groups are vindicated. The nuns are probably happy, though the GetReligion blog complains that coverage of their endorsement should not have concluded that they represented all 59,000 sisters in America. The Chicago Tribune reports that Illinois Catholics have rescinded a prayer breakfast invitation to pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak, who endorsed the bill at the last minute.

Episcopalians: No official release yet, but given the Episcopal Church’s public support for health care reform legislation, it’s probably a positive response. Stay tuned for more.

Jews: The JTA reports that most groups have responded favorably, including B’nai Brith International, the Reform movement, the National Jewish Democratic Council, although the Republican Jewish Coalition called the bill “deeply flawed.”

Latter-day Saints (Mormons): No official release yet, aside from church member Glenn Beck’s well-known views against this kind of thing, but famous Mormon and former (future?) Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has just expressed some negative sentiments about it for the National Review Online — prompting some interesting debate among political bloggers about how the national bill differs from the health care reform Romney helped pass as governor of Massachusetts.

Southern Baptists: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, expressed disappointment with the bill and predicts a “tsunami-sized voter backlash” against Democrats in November.

Other: Relief and praise from Faith in Public Life, an advocacy group for health and immigration reform whose members include evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews and others. Gary Stern’s Blogging Religiously reports the Network of Spiritual Progressives is disappointed with the bill for not going far enough to cover more Americans.

Check back for updates and share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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