Progressive Revival

Progressive Revival


Three Responses to a Conservative Critic on Health Care Reform

posted by Brian McLaren

cross posted on Sojourners and Brian Mclaren.net

Just recieved this:

I am one of the conservative Christians you refer to in your letter. I did not and still do not support President Obama although I do know that there is reform needed in health care. It just does not need to be run by the Federal government. The reason I do not support the President is his pro abortion views. The Senate bill will mandate government payment for abortion. How an Evangelical Christian or any Christian support a president or a bill calling for the taking of the life on the innocent in the womb is beyond my understanding. Or vote for a candidate that is pro abortion as President Obama has made clear he is. I strongly support the church doing its part in caring for the health needs of the poor. My church[First Baptist] in West Palm Beach, FL has a state of the art medical clinic for the poor along with a ministry to help the homeless and poor with basic needs. If liberal Christians as yourself would spend their time mobilizing the church to do what it is called to do and give generously and encourage others to there would be no need for health care reform for the needy. I would like your response relative to the life issue. I would have posted this on your blog but saw no way to do it. I pray God will change your heart. I find it very interesting that the life issue is ignored in your open letter.

Thanks for your note. I certainly respect your position. I hope we can model a civil conversation on this – as you know, there is a lot of scary miscommunication going on this summer!

Let me respond on three points. You said:

I do know that there is reform needed in health care. It just does not need to be run by the Federal government.

First, we agree that reform is needed. Just in the last couple days, I’ve met several people who are falling through the cracks in our present system. We may simply disagree on the role of the government in this regard, but here are a few of my reasons for believing the government should be involved.

  • Governments have the responsibility for making laws, and where injustice is occurring – which I would define as the abuse of power, usually by the powerful, to the detriment of the less powerful – better laws are needed. I think this is a case in point.
  • The recent financial crisis, to me, is a parallel situation. Powerful banks were not properly regulated by the government, and they took risks that hurt millions of people. Similarly, when health insurance companies and employers are not given proper accountability, they may make decisions that increase their profits but hurt people. In those cases, better laws are needed.
  • I am suspicious of big government, as you are – but I am equally suspicious of big business. In fact, at least with government, we have the right to vote out corrupt politicians. But corporations often manage to keep their policies secret from their shareholders – as Enron, Worldcom, and the recent bank failures exemplify – and so it is especially important for us to hold them accountable through good laws.
  • If people say that government can’t be trusted to handle health care well, I would wonder why they think government can be trusted to handle weapons well! I would also point to medicare, and to the VA, which people seem to be pretty happy with. But if governments can’t handle laws well – and that’s what we need in this situation, I believe: better laws – then they really are failing. Here we are in a situation, though, where even though government failed in the past to provide needed laws (just as they failed to do regarding big financial institutions), now they’re trying, and that’s why I want to support them.

Second, you said …

The reason I do not support the President is his pro abortion views. The Senate bill will mandate government payment for abortion.

Where did you hear this? Whoever told you this was misinforming you. I have been involved with a group of religious leaders who are working hard to be sure this will not be the case. The language we’re using is “abortion neutral” – health care reform, we believe, should not become a surrogate battlefront for either side in the abortion conflict. Whoever told you this is a fact – that reform will involve abortion – was either intentionally trying to mislead you or they were passing on misleading information unintentionally. (I hope you will notify them.) Although it is highly unlikely, it is possible that such a bill could pass, and that’s why many of us are involved in seeking good reform that will be abortion neutral.

If you want to understand why I voted for President Obama even though he is openly pro-choice, you can read my postings on the subject from last summer, starting here.

Third, you said …

I strongly support the church doing its part in caring for the health needs of the poor. My church [First Baptist] in West Palm Beach, FL has a state of the art medical clinic for the poor along with a ministry to help the homeless and poor with basic needs. If liberal Christians as yourself would spend their time mobilizing the church to do what it is called to do and give generously and encourage others to there would be no need for health care reform for the needy.

I applaud you for supporting your church in caring for the needs of the poor. Please keep up that good work! That sounds like a tremendous program – thanks be to God! Here again we agree: the church should be involved in helping poor people who are sick. I wonder if you would also agree with this:

If a poor person is hungry, we must help him get food. If he is naked, we must help him get clothes. If he is unemployed, we must help him get a job. If he is oppressed and treated unjustly, we must help him get better laws for his protection.

So – when I write and speak as I do about matters of justice, I am trying to do exactly what you recommend: to mobilize the church to do what it is called to do. That includes giving – but it also includes voting and using the power of citizenship. Those of us who have good health care who are Christians can not, as Paul said (Phillippians 2), only be concerned with our personal interests; we must be as concerned for our neighbors who lack health care as we would want them to be for us if the tables were turned. Health care reform, as I see it, is about seeking better laws for the common good of all our neighbors.

So, although we have disagreements, thankfully, we agree on two really important things: health care reform is needed, and we should mobilize Christians to do what they are called to do on behalf of those in need. I hope this explains a bit more of why I’ve been outspoken on this issue in the ways that I have. And of course, wherever I am wrong, I too pray that God will change my heart, and I trust you will do the same.



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Comments read comments(9)
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bob

posted August 19, 2009 at 7:23 pm


thanks for a very thoughtful and informative post



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s.w.

posted August 19, 2009 at 7:46 pm


Why would a Christian be for abortion? God gives life and he is the only one who should end life. If someone that claims to be a chritian and is for abortion probably needs to read their Bible,I’m sure there is something in there about life and what God says about it.



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Your Name

posted August 19, 2009 at 10:42 pm


Thanks for the eisegesis of Matthew 25. I didn’t realise the “we” included the government. But hey, with eisegesis, I guess it means Matthew 25 is whatever you want it to mean on your journey to the big deity who journeys just right beside us in only love and all.
For the record, I’m British and now live in Canada and I can tell you that government run health care is a complete mess.
If more churches did what the letter writers church did then we (in the proper sense of the word from Matthew 25 i.e. the church) would be fulfilling our mandate from Jesus. saying that voting fulfils Matthew 25 merely passes the buck of responsibility from the church to the government. Not really Kingdom building



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Cindy Edwards

posted August 20, 2009 at 3:30 am


I find it interesting that you say you won’t support the President who is trying to do something for all of us including you. First let me say that you obviously have not read the health care bill as you mistakenly think that it will pay for abortion. It does not. There is a provision that an individual can purchase an additional policy for such services if desired with their own funds. Secondly, being raised Baptist, I know that you believe the word of God and the Bible clearly states that we as Christians have an obligation to care for those in need. Scripture references: Luke 10:25-35 and Ezekiel 34:4. just for starters. There are many more. One thing I do not understand is how you value life in the womb but once born that child is cast to the wind as far as health care is concerned. You either value life, born or unborn, or you don’t. I suggest you do some reading, first the Bible and then the healthcare bill. Get your facts straight before passing along falsehoods. Last time I checked “bearing false witness” was not very high on God’s To-Do list.



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Frank J Goddard

posted August 20, 2009 at 10:10 am


Cindy, it seems to me that no one in this debate is free from teh accusation of lies! Mr McLaren is equally as guilty of falsehoods, especially with his faulty biblical exegesis. The problem in this whole process is this. people from the evangelical left are so tied into the President (in the same way people from the evangelical right were with Bush) that they cannot see that they are behaving in exactly the same way as the people they condemed for 8 years under Bush. Hypocrisy, now tell me, what does the bible have to say about that Cindy??



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Your Name

posted August 20, 2009 at 11:21 am


s.w. Why would a Christian support the death penalty?



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Your Name

posted August 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm


s.w., many Christians who are pro-choice do not support the act of abortion itself. They support a person’s right to choose. So please do not confuse the two. No Christian, including our president, WANTS any human being to go out and get an abortion. Of course we all hope that people will choose not to have an abortion. But not everyone who lives in America IS Christian, and therefore not everyone thinks abortion is wrong. It is the idea of taking away that freedom of CHOICE that disturbs so many people and so many Christians. Abortion has always been and still remains a highly controversial issue. Please don’t let that one singular issue stand in the way of you looking at many other important issues in our society and our laws. And I would say I “agree” with Brian, but to say that I “agree” makes it sound like he is stating his opinion when he says that the bill does not promote abortion in the way that you seem to think it does. It is absolute fact that the bill does not support or promote it or whatever you seem to think it will do. I pray that you will free yourself from the reigns of the “Religious Right talking heads” and go out to learn for yourself that not all they tell you (and in fact probably most of it) is not true. Most of what you are being told has some kind of sick, greedy agenda. I am sorry if it hurts you to know you have been intentionally misled, but you have. Peace.



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Nate W

posted August 21, 2009 at 2:12 pm


“No Christian, including our president, WANTS any human being to go out and get an abortion.”
That’s demonstrably false. It’s a blatant lie. If no Christian wanted any human being to have an abortion, then no Christian would ever choose to have an abortion. Christians have chosen to have abortions. So unless some non-Christian is holding a gun to their head, then yes, some Christians have wanted some human beings (themselves) to have abortions. And let’s not forget the handful of liberal clerics out there who call abortion a gift from God, and other such rot.
If you’re a pro-choice Christian, at least be honest and don’t try to sugarcoat the facts. It’s tiresome to hear all this “nobody wants anyone to have an abortion” garbage when just about anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock their whole lives certainly have certainly met people who don’t just think people should be free to choose but think that sometimes abortion is the right choice to be made, a good thing, something someone ought to have.



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Laura

posted August 28, 2009 at 12:34 am


I don’t think people are happy with the VA or Medicaid or Medicare. Hang around a nursing home that takes any of these for a while, and you might see what appalling, ridiculous craziness runs rampant in all three of those. I do think we need these programs for those who have no other means available for receiving health care. I don’t think we can all have equal health care, ever have, or ever will. I’ve had it rationed to me while paying big premiums for the best my employer had to offer of 3 plans. But healthcare should not be completely tied the job security of the lower and middle-middle classes, either. I think it is going to be a very long recession because we didn’t follow through with the changes in life-style we knew we should 30 years ago to make us less dependent on oil, reduce our habit of spending with credit with such abandon, and work on mandatory/universal health care, run by the private sector. Until we all have to have it, rates won’t go down. All the healthy, young folks have to be in the system to balance out all us wheezing old duffers. We all have to carry auto liability insurance, and we should have to carry some minimal form of health-care insurance that would cover us if we were in an accident, and allow us into low-cost health clinics for basic care (screenings for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, strep tests and flu shots.) I am not sure that we are all due a heart valve replacement at 85 when we also have diabetes and are carrying anti-biotic resistant germs in the urinary tract.
People who’ve mentioned abortion: surely we can come to some agreement that would take this issue off the table. I think when the mother’s life is a risk, doctors should be able to abort babies. I think in cases of violent rape with assault, the D&C procedure should be allowed. However, I think the use of abortion for birth control is reprehensible [oh dear! “it” (sex)just happened, so I want an abortion.] I don’t think that a co-ed who gets drunk and is too plastered to make it clear to her date that she doesn’t want to have sex should receive an abortion from any insurance – gov’t. or otherwise. Christians should put their money where their mouths are and adopt unwanted babies, or help the mother’s of unwanted babies have their children, and then decide whether they want to keep them or not. If they want to keep them, we Christians should consider helping young women and couples struggle through to get enough education to consider keeping them. It’s easy to keep fighting over the abortion issue and carrying plaques down the street. It doesn’t accomplish much. My friend who had 3, adopted 3, and helped a young mother raise one and get job training – now that’s impressive. I listen to her on this issue.



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