Faith and Health Insurance Reform

by Dan Quinn

In the religious right’s continuing attacks on health insurance reform efforts in Washington, yesterday the Texas-based Heritage Alliance blasted out an e-mail warning far-right activists not “to despair” over the possible passage of legislation intended to make sure every American has access to affordable health care. To give in to despair, the e-mail says, would be a sin:

“With two Republican U.S. Senators, Texans may feel tempted to despair over the upcoming Senate action on health care.

The people representing our values are doing all they can, but there aren’t enough of them, and Texas citizens can’t wield much influence on other states’ Senators.

But let this remind us that despair is a sin. Only the devil tells us we can’t help, and tempts us to do … nothing.

We are almost never helpless. Let’s put our prayers, minds, and hands to work.

So now Christians are sinning if they don’t try to stop health insurance reform?

The e-mail calls on activists to contact “any0ne you know who lives in a red state with a blue Senator” and ask them to urge their senators to oppose “any measure that expands the federal government’s role in health care.”

“We need market-based reforms that encourage free competition among insurance companies and providers — not public options or laws that require citizens to purchase insurance.”

We continue to be fascinated by how the religious right ties faith in God to blind faith in free markets, regardless of the issue. Of course, the religious right is really a political movement inextricably tied to the Republican Party and the GOP’s political agenda. Apparently, to oppose that agenda is to oppose God. Thus is the logic (such as it is) of far-right extremism today.

There are honest arguments for and against the current reform efforts in Washington, and we believe people of faith can disagree in good conscience. But we’re not surprised that extremists on the right continue to use faith as a weapon to divide people for political gain — even when it comes to something so important as health care.

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