I try not to blog about politics, but the whole ordeal of passing Health Care Reform (HCR) in the U.S. stunned me. I can understand political fights and in-fighting. I can understand passionate debate over issues. I can even understand deep personal convictions even if I don’t agree with them. However, I was shocked by the hate, rhetoric and downright nastiness expressed by those who didn’t get their way. I don’t think there is much doubt that the Republican Party has been held hostage (willing or not is another question) by a strong, conservative religious constituent. I also think it is pretty obvious that the insurance companies brought this upon themselves. Greed trumps compassion for many of these companies. They aren’t in the business to help people but to make money at the expense of sick people. They didn’t even have the sense enough to stop throwing people out of their insurance programs, thus giving even more ammunition to the opposition, during the HCR debates. The fact is, we needed reform. However, I don’t want to focus on the issue of HCR but rather the hatred by many in the religious right in response to HCR. (e.g. More Christian Conservatives Against Healthcare Reform, Opposition to Health-Care Reform Revives Christian Right, Religious right watch: Health care reform is against God’s design)
When did the religious conservatives lose their compassion for the poor, sick and downtrodden? Those with pre-existing medical conditions, through no fault of their own, that can’t get insurance? Where is the compassion? Where is mercy? Where is love? When did the religious righteous get taken up by capitalism, money, wealth, greed and a distain for those less fortunate than them. Doesn’t their own Bible condemn them?
"Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Matthew 9:13
”The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Prov 29:7
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Cor 1:3-4
”Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Col 3:12
"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matt 25:37-40
I ask again, where is this compassion among the Conservative religious opposing HCR? Maybe it’s because they see it as an individual duty not something that government should setup. After all it is a capitalistic society and we should let the markets rule, right? Again, if anything, their own scriptures cry out for socialism, not capitalism!
“Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Mark 10:21
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:32-34
”All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had… There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” Acts 4:32-35
In a telling passage in James, those who were favoring the rich over the poor were roundly condemned:
“Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?” James 2:5-7
Where is the compassion? To be fair, there were Christian groups fighting for HCR. (e.g. A Christian Perspective On Health Care Reform, Health Care Reform – Christian Reformed Church, Dan Nejfelt: Christians Weigh In On Health Care Reform) At least some were committed to showing compassion and mercy. However, this raises some interesting questions regarding the clarity or perspicuity of the Bible. Same Bible, but vastly different interpretations. As I’ve said before, the Bible is about as clear as mud. You can find whatever you want in it – from angry denunciations of those in need to showing mercy and compassion. You would think a supposedly “god-breathed” book would be a lot clearer. It takes religious justification to turn simple human emotions such as compassion and mercy for those less fortunate into anger and hate.