The Texas Freedom Network has taken no position on national health insurance reform, but we have been fascinated by the torrent of e-mails from religious-right pressure groups opposed to it. Oh, we’re not surprised that the religious right opposes reform — the movement’s leadership has long been in bed with economic and “small government” conservatives (even when they’re trying to dictate how people live their private lives). What’s fascinating is that so many who piously proclaim their Christian faith are so disingenuous and deceitful in their statements about health insurance reform and so supportive of the rude and uncivil behavior of some reform opponents.
Texas-based groups on the far right have even promoted videos of disruptive protesters shouting and jeering members of Congress trying to answer questions about reform at “town hall” meetings. When others object to the shouts and deliberate disruptions, those same far-right groups claim the right to free speech — all the while ignoring efforts to drown out the speech of reform supporters at the meetings.
Nationally, religious-right pressure groups have launched aggressive fund-raising and disinformation campaigns targeting health care reform. Many of their statements echo charges about things like “death panels,” euthanasia and “pulling the plug” on Grandma. Some examples:
From Concerned Women for America, which charges that reform would set up “a system whereby bureaucrats and government boards will determine what health care we can have” (as opposed, we’re guessing, to the for-profit insurance bureaucrats who make those decisions now):
“These citizens [referring to reform protesters] are smart enough to know that the bill sets up a system whereby bureaucrats and government boards will determine what health care we can have. And with the way this Congress and President have acted in the last few months, Americans are convinced that they cannot be trusted with our health care.”
From the Orwellian-named American Center for Law and Justice:
“We’re working aggressively to defeat dangerous health care reform legislation currently before Congress — legislation clearly subsidizing the death of thousands upon thousands of unborn children through government-mandated abortion services.”
From the Christian Coalition of America, which tries to frighten the elderly and disabled with claims that they would lose their care under health reform legislation:
“Liberals know how effective we can be when we stand together. That’s why they are currently dismissing and deriding conservatives who are attending town-hall meetings as ‘paid activists’ or even as ‘racists.’
They truly will stoop to anything – which means we must commit to work even harder in the coming weeks.”
From The Institute on Religion and Democracy, which cloaks its right-wing positions with soothing talk about an “ecumenical alliance” and “social witness” while attacking progressive people of faith:
“The new Evangelical Left, like the old Social Gospel Religious Left of decades ago, always materialistically equates Big Government and centralized control with the Kingdom of God. They learned no lessons from the 20th century, when Big Government again and again wreaked destruction and was often the antithesis of Christian teachings. For the Religious Left, Obamacare is just one more opportunity for coercion and eradication of private initiative.
Revealingly, the Religious Left seems uninterested in lowering doctors’ expenses by limiting lawsuit abuse or providing tax credits towards private coverage. Such proposals distract from the larger agenda of expanding state power.
Why do Religious Left activists always worship at the altar of the Big Government? More traditional religious believers, understanding human nature, look to other altars.”
However the debate over health insurance reform ends, one thing is obvious now: the true nature of these religious-right pressure groups is open for all to see.
22 thoughts on “The Religious Right and Health Care”
This letter was published in the New Braunfels Herald Zeitung a few weeks ago.
I find the current debate about health care reform fascinating as it relates to religion and the Republican party and the contradictions therein. Specifically Republicans and Libertarians of all stripes complain that health care is not a right and therefore should not be in anyway run by or paid for by the government, yet most of these very folks at least claim to be pious Christians.
I’m not sure which bible the folks arguing against the “public option” or single-payer health care studied, but in my 12 years of Catholic education I was taught Christian charity, love thy neighbor and that feeding the poor and healing the sick were the attributes of a true Christian. I doubt anyone would call Catholicism a liberal faith given the Church’s stand on abortion and gay marriage so I don’t see where its teachings can be said to be a liberal.
So the question is what have others learned from their religious education that causes them to favor withholding medical care from folks too poor to pay for it? What bible are they studying? In mine when Jesus healed the sick he didn’t ask for a co-pay. I don’t think Sister Agnes, my elementary school principal, would approve of what these folks have taken away from their bibles.
I agree. I really cannot believe is that all these people who claim to be religious seem to ignore biblical injunctions to care for others, care for the needy, etc. . . Wouldn’t we be proud of having a society in which all people are cared for? And, isn’t it a tad embarrassing to be the richest country in the world and not care for our citizens?
Jesus, through his faithful servant Charles Dickens, has said the following words below. The Religious Right, those who sympathize with it, the health insurance companies, those who are allied with them, and the people over at the Free Market Foundation of Texas need to hear these words and heed them. Health care reform could be your last chance:
“It is required of every man,” the Ghost returned, “that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world — oh, woe is me! — and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”
“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”
“Or would you know,” pursued the Ghost, “the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”
“Jacob,” he said, imploringly. “Old Jacob Marley, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Jacob!”
“I have none to give,” the Ghost replied. “It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our counting-house — mark me! — in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing hole; and weary journeys lie before me!”
“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour, by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
I have a libertarian friend who hates the idea of a public option. Oh, and he’s currently collecting unemployment. What sweet irony.
The bottom of today’s TFN e-newsletter included this text from the Free Market Foundation (Focus On The Family Texas affiliate). Below is the second paragraph copied and pasted here:
“If you haven’t contacted your Representative or Senator, now is the time! Click here to download a .pdf copy of our talking points with important information about things that are included in the bill, including threats to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As always, please be respectful of your representatives and their staff. Contact your Representatives (click here) and Senators (click here) now to ask them when they are holding townhall meetings and to vote against freedom-snatching healthcare “reform.” You can view the whole text of the House bill (all 1,017 pages) and monitor its status by clicking here.”
Though the protestors deny they are being coached, right here it clearly says there IS coaching going on what with the recommended “talking points.” Note the hysterical claim of “threats to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Ha, where the hell does any reform bill talk about that? Would the wingnuts care to cite chapter and verse? Would they care to substantiate ANY of their claims?
Note that it also asks them to “be respectful of your representatives and their staff.” We have yet to see that happen. There’s so much screaming going on, the representative cannot answer their questions. These protests are becoming riots, and I suspect things are going to get violent very soon. We know the wingnuts are good at shooting people (a la abortion providers, holocaust museum guards….)
The news is reporting that Sarah Palin’s wild, hysterical and FALSE claims of “death panels” is winning. It’s like Joseph Goebbels taught: “Lie and make it a BIG lie.” And we all know that the more a lie is repeated, eventually it becomes true.
Between the Wall Street robot army and Obama’s health “reform” team, we can be assured that any hope of reform in the patient’s favor is already dead and buried. The FOR-PROFITS have won. Watch for higher premiums for fewer services, more and more insurance claims to be denied, more insurance interference between you and your physician, and more policyholders dropped from coverage. And got a preexisting condition? FAHGETABOUTIT.
I’m fascinated that Obama went from being called a “marxist,” and a “communist” at election time. Now he’s a “fascist” and a “Nazi.” Do people have a clue what these words even mean??
I don’t think so. I think it’s just their underlying racism showing its ugly face. They’ll deny it, of course. In 1993, we saw anger and resistance to “Clintoncare.” But the opposition we saw then pales in comparison to the hatred now being directed at Obama. There can be only one factor: his skin color.
It appears to me as if a good number of the loud-mouthed “birthers” are moving on into and trying to disrupt the health care reform. I guess we will now have to call them “after-birthers”.
Yes, and I saw something really odd today. I watched a live townhall meeting led by a Congressman in Secaucus, New Jersey. It was mostly about health care, but it occasionally drifted to other subjects before jerking back to the main subject. After a brief discussion about oil drilling, the Congressman launched into a spiel on energy conservation, independence from foreign oil, and hybrid cars or cars that get much higher gas mileage. I thought nearly everyone agreed on that—even conservatives. Well, guess what. The staged wingnut gallery booed him with great scorn even on those subjects. I sort of scratched my head for a minute—then I remembered from long ago when I was growing up—and I understood.
I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, which was the heyday of something called the “Sunday Afternoon Drive.” In that day and time, how much of a man you were was measured by the car you drove—sort of like a penis I suppose—the bigger the better. Ten miles to a gallon was common. Cadillac and Lincoln were better—much better. Buy a huge car, pile the family in on Sunday afternoon, and go take a Sunday afternoon drive.
“Hey look at me!!! I’m Bill. I drive this huge new Cadillac. Bet you don’t have one!!! See what a big man I am? Yep, that’s right. I’m a big man. Even the guy who lived in a shack could be a BIG MAN, if he spent most of what little money he had on a used Cadillac that would still run.
Well, these jerks in this townhall meeting today were scorning the Congressman over the impending loss of their huge gas-guzzling SUVs, the modern equivalent of that 1955 black Cadillac. They do not want energy independence from OPEC. They do not want cleaner buring cars. They do not want vehicles that get better gas mileage. They want to drill for more oil so they can keep pumping the air full of crap, become even more dependent for oil on people who hates us, and ride around LIKE A BIG MAN in their full-size pickup or Chevy Suburban, and here comes the whine:
“And if you don’t let me, you are taking away one of my most basic and precious freedoms as an American. Just like (sob, sob, sob) when you took away my freedom to not buckle my seatbelt and my freedom to blow my cigarette smoke straight into your face. Oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When will the torture and oppression ever end!!!!”
This is what I was talking about yesterday. The loss of freedom to do anything you want, whenever you want, and wherever you want—no matter who it hurts. It worked in 1802 when your nearest neighbor lived in a log cabin 100 miles away, but it does not work now. Sorry guys. It’s over, and it is going to stay over until we start colonizing Mars. You have to learn to live with other people. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU WANT!!!!
Charles, it’s very much that way here in Texas. At least 65% of TX vehicles are SUVs, SUTs, 4-door pick-up trucks, dual-wheeled pick-ups, and still a few Hummers. And they ALL blow your doors off as they pass you on the interstates. This can mean only one thing: Texans are RICH!
It’s a weird, whacky world we live in where ‘conservation’ is a dirty word to ‘conservatives.’
And selfishness & greed are the values of today.
On a similar topic, Rush Limbaugh is claiming socialism created the Holocaust. The big fat windbag was blathering on and on the other day about national socialism. Well, Rush, it wasn’t socialism that created the Holocaust. Socialism had nothing to do with it. The Holocaust was all about RACISM. Jews and gypsies were considered inferior races so they had to go in order to protect and purify the Aryan RACE. And folks like trade unionists, socialists, democrats, and anyone not “with the program” also had to go in order to protect and purify the Aryan RACE. GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT, YOU BIG FAT IDIOT SLOB. To deny the FACTS of the Holocaust is to deny the Holocaust. So here we have yet another idiot Holocaust-denier (and why am I not surprised to hear it’s Rush?). And, of course, his minions of dittoheads believe every word he says. Good little robots.
RACISM and GREED
TFN says (as opposed, we’re guessing, to the for-profit insurance bureaucrats who make those decisions now)
Shame on TFN for posting you have taken no position on health care reform and yet make the charged statement quoted. As if for-profit insurance is a bad thing. Most of us with health insurance like their insurance companies. The free market is one of the great things about this country and it can be a solution for health care without the government plan taking completely over.
Most people agree health care reform is needed but what is being discussed isn’t going to work. The two main problems with health care is pre-existing conditions and ever rising costs. The government won’t be able to contrl costs by negotiating them down. The government has never nor ever will be good at that type of thing. What will work is that consumers become more involved in the cost decisions. Then millions of decisions by individuals and their doctors can determine what treatments are worth paying for.
Pre-existing conditions become a problem when people lose their current insurance or don’t have any at the time they become ill. If insurance becomes transferable you have options when you are between jobs. Why can’t the government offer a plan of last resort to help here?
You don’t have to be a member of the religious right to oppose what is being proposed by Washington. I agree with most of what TFN posts. There are solutions besides big government. Let’s take our time, get true bipartisan dialogue started and maybe congress can pass a bill that will help more than it harms.
The post didn’t call “for-profit” insurance a “bad thing.” Our staff members currently have insurance through a for-profit company. We simply noted that for-profit insurance already does what Concerned Women for America claims that government would do — “determine what health care we can have.” Insurance companies make those decisions already by approving or denying coverage for particular procedures and treatments. Honest people can have honest disagreements about health care reform, but not if they start with dishonest and misleading claims, as Concerned Women for America does. And that, of course, was the point of the post.
And lets eliminate evil for-profit in pharma, energy, homebuilding, computer manufacture, food production, heck the Obamessiahs so benevolent lets just let him run everything and just give you how much money he thinks you deserve. If your insurer denies you, you can sue – or choose another insurer. Think you can sue Obamacare? Efficient as your local car license agency and caring as the IRS….
I agree Willie, but I would agree more widely with Cytocop and call it RACISM, SELFISHNESS, AND GREED. I need to say something about how this articulates with the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist churches of today.
Cytocop, being Jewish, would know about the Jewish writings in the Old Testament (probably the exact location–so help me out here if you can). All I recall from my own past readings is that there was a time in ancient Israel when a n’er do well king was on the Jewish throne and doing a lot of things God did not like. All of the temple priests and would be prophets were totally “sold out” to this guy. So, rather than convey God’s message to the king, they would convey the totally BS message they figured the king really wanted to hear. Rather than speak revealed prophecy from god, they would speak to the king only those things that would stroke his ego and keep them safe.
Well, I think a version of that is going on in the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist church and that is why it attracts so many people. They identify a small pool of really awful sins like abortion and gay marriage, focus all of their attention on that, and then get the church not only to totally ignore—but actually pass its blessings (either by commission or omission) on greed, selfishnes, avarice, racism, and a long line of others.
It’s like someone said, “Hey!!! What a great idea!!! What if we could create a church that would actually condone, bless, and encourage many of the worst aspects of American life and culture. For example, what if we could get our pastors to tell us that “consumerism” is right. It is what God wants. He even encourages it!! Wouldn’t that be great. What if greed was a virtue!!!!????”
Personally, I consider the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist churches, and their pastors, to be sold out to evil on many counts. It must be really hard to be a pastor at a megachurch and make $300,000 per year, knowing all the while that if you criticize the morals of the wealthy businessmen who attend your church, you and all of your “pet cushie plushies” may be gone next week.
Cloudsrider and Tim:
I have great private health insurance. It meets all of my families needs now. However, I do not trust my private insurance company and, quite frankly, I would like to see all health insurance companies die a slow and miserable death—fitting justice as I see it.
If the private health insurance people win this health care reform fight that is going on now, we will be defenseless against them with no recourse because they will be totally in control of American health care. Even the government will be unable to protect us because their will no longer be any governmental stomach for a fight—and the insurance companies know that too. Every man, woman, and child in the United States will be dead meat in one way or another.
“On a similar topic, Rush Limbaugh is claiming socialism created the Holocaust.”
Good ol’ Martin Luther had quite a bit to do with it, as I remember things:
“…set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. …” was just the first of his eight-step program, Or is that “pogrom?”
Charles, the kings of Judah rotated between wicked & good. There would be a good king, then a wicked king, then a good king…etc. All the kings of Israel were wicked.
Cloudsrider, where are you getting your “facts” from? The reforms under discussion propose nothing of the sort you’ve described: I can sue my insurer? How much do you think that would cost me? I can find another insurer? In my dreams…. and for how much?
And yeah, as I’ve written here before, I’m OK with my private insurer. I pay approximately $400/month to insure myself and pay $30 co-pay/office visit. But I haven’t been sick or injured yet. I wonder how I well I’ll like them if I ever DO get sick or injured… or how well they’ll like ME if I get sick or injured….
The Brits are tired of being American conservative’s “whipping boy.” They are blogging and tweeting galore saying how much they love their NHS. One person tweeted that their neighbor was treated for cancer and received the whole enchilada: surgeries, chemo, radiation – for months. Yet the neighbor still owns his home, hasn’t filed bankruptcy, and never will. Even David Cameron, leader of the U.K. Conservative Party, says he likes the NHS.
Even British conservatives believe health insurance is a right, not a priviledge like in USA.
Coragyps, I wrote about Rush Limbaugh’s rant connecting the holocaust with socialism in my post of this morning. The Holocaust wasn’t about socialism; it was all about RACE and GREED. (Yep, Willie May called it).
Tim asked: “If insurance becomes transferable you have options when you are between jobs. Why can’t the government offer a plan of last resort to help here?”
Duh, that’s what the public option was all about. But the for-profit insurers won’t ever let a public option materialize. They don’t like competition; they like monopoly.
While on the subject, I’d like to ask the conservative readers what is the connection between health coverage reform and socialism? Why is socialism such an evil thing? We have public education, public libraries, public transportation, and so on. According to your viewpoint, these should all be re-named socialized education, socialized libraries, socialized transportation, and so on.
In fact, why have a national army? Why not all of us individuals have private armies of our own if privatization is so wonderful? George Bush wanted to privatize social security. I can only imagine what would have happened in this economic recession had that plan materialized.
And if socialism is so evil and brutal, how can Sweden (maybe one of the most socialized countries in the world) have such a high standard of living? Funny but I’ve not heard of any Swedes risking their lives to escape their horrible socialized country with all its gulags and horrible conditions. Do you not find that odd?
Danish citizens have high taxes yet they have guaranteed higher education so that they can get good jobs and live a decent life. They also enjoy guaranteed health coverage; they can’t be turned down. I realize their taxes are high, yes. But they live without the terror we “free” Americans live. I’m terrified of losing my job and thus my health coverage too. And Americans who have children wonder how they will afford to send their kids to college.
And the Brits are saying NO WAY would they trade their NHS for an American system.
One day a poor pregnant woman came to A conservative republican.
“Oh, wise one” cried the woman. “My husband was killed in an auto accident. I cannot support this child in my belly. I want to have an abortion. ”
The Conservative gazed upon the poor woman and replied “No. Woman. All human beings have a right to life. Go and have your baby and forget about an abortion”
So the woman had her baby.
The baby was born gravely sick.
It needed a doctor and expensive medical care.
So the woman returned to the Conservative Republican
“Oh wise one. My baby is sick. My child needs expensive medical care. Can you help me.”
The Conservative lectured the woman sternly:
“Heath care is not a right. It is no ones fault but your own if you can’t afford the pay”
The newborn child died after much suffering
Are you the famous artist Malcolm Norris Hall?
I am baffled by the faulty conclusions that have been embraced. Study history people. If someone needed help, the government did not always help them. Look at the governments who did. Where are they now? Where are they headed?
You can ask for advice from someone, but does that mean you have to take it? Since when were we forced to make personal decisions because our local representative said so…oh wait, that’s what is going to happen if the health care plan were to go through. Stop thinking of the immediate relief the government will give. Think about the future. There are ramifications beyond the present relief the administration promises. They will be long gone, but our children will not be.
I think you might like to go over to the blog of Wade Burleson “Grace and Peace to You” and join in the all-Christian debate on health care reform. It is mighty interesting.
You appear to be young and wet behind the ears (no offense intended). As a fellow Christian, I would like to suggest the following so that you may have a long, faithful, and happy life:
1) Be extremely skeptical of the things that church pastors and preachers tell you are “true.” Just because someone has been to seminary and has been ordained as a minister does not mean that what they are telling you is true. Many are required to thoughtlessly accept a false “party line” set by men higher up in the church hierarchy—men whose minds and hearts have long since left the gospel behind to seek wealth, position, and power. Just because a person, organization, or gospel package has a “Jesus” sticker on it does not mean that Jesus is really inside the box. You need to learn that right now.
2) If you want to truly grow in faith and knowledge, you need to avoid the books down at your local Christian bookstore. For the most part, these stores are propaganda centers that provide a vary narrow and one-sided perspective on the Christian faith—one that you will find unsettling if you ever take the time to thoroughly dust out its corners. Many of these books are written by laymen and small-time preachers in search of money and with a particular ideological ax to grind. I would recommend academic-quality books on the Christian faith that are available from sources other than these local stores.
3) The Bible is not simple, literal, and straight-forward. It is deep, complex, and highly complicated. Many of the most important things it has to say are easily missed. Most important of all, you have to remember that it is a living thing. The words are always the same on paper, but they have the power to say different things to you on different days. They are not frozen and absolute. Like all living things—they move. The course of its life communes with the course of your life. Jesus says that you have to seek him, and you will find him. A little light Bible reading at bedtime is not seeking. Seeking is long and deep. It requires traveling into unknown places—places that might seem dark at first—but open up into wondrous light—letting you know that you were only passing through a tunnel to a new place. Seeking takes effort.
4) You will one day face a deep spiritual crisis in your life. It will be a crisis where it has become clear, in your mind at that future time, that God has lied to you. Everything that every Christian person in your past (except me) has ever told you will lead you to believe that you MUST reject God and walk away from the faith forever because of this crisis. In that important day, I hope you will be smart enough to recognize that God has not lied to you. What has happened is that frail and fallible humans that you have known throughout your life have told you things about God that were not true. Some did it for evil reasons, and some did it because they simply misunderstood what God was saying to them when they read their Bibles. In that future moment, I hope that you hold tightly to God and instead reject the untrue things that people have told you. The problem is not God. The problem is always people.
5) God gave us the books in the Bible. Many people believe that the Bible has a warning label on it that apparently only they can see. It says: “Before Entering, Please Turn Off Brain.” God gave you a brain for a reason. Never be afraid to use it in any context.
6) Let’s start using your brain right now with health care:
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side, thinking to himself, “Providing medical care and life support to this man will cost me a lot of money and increase the future budget deficit. If I do this, my granddaughter might have to drive a BMW instead of a Merecedes. Nope!! Better let him die.”
 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side, thinking to himself, “Health care is a privilege. Only those who can afford it should have access to it. Besides, if I help him, I might have to give up something of my own. Better let him die.”
 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
[Cytocop: This was not meant to offend you. I think what Jesus was saying is that the Torah and other Jewish writings require compassion and help for the beaten man—but there are always some people so caught up in their own individual selfishness and fears that they just choose to pass by on the other side. Like say Mitch McConnell.]