Saturday, August 22, 2009

Health Care Reform and Religious Imperatives

Liberal pastors are pulling out all of the stops in their advocacy for socialized medicine. I was recently reading The Houston Chronicle's article concerning a group of liberal pastors being used by the Democrat Party to push for President Obama's beleaguered health care initiative.

The messages from these pastors, like most messages of liberal economic policies, confuse a basic ethical principle: For me to be generous with my money is laudatory and most Christian; for me to be generous with somebody else's money is neither, but is mere theft and is condemned in the Bible. The generous Christian impulse of being generous with our own money led Christians throughout our nation to start hospitals and other health care initiative in days gone by. What passes today for the "moral imperative" of "health care reform" in the plans of President Obama can be entirely summarized as covetousness for the resources of others.


selahV said...

yep. and now, after some churches have exhausted all government avenues of support for a needy person, they might help them with used clothes. in most cases welfare does far more harm than good. Keep folks stuck in one socio-economical dependency. Hard to break out of it. (not that your post is about welfare) selahV

Dave Miller said...

Can you imagine the outcry from these same folks if George W had tried something like this?

Big Daddy Weave said...

So these pastors who support health care reform are all liberal?


Joel Hunter is a liberal now?

Speaking of being generous with somebody else's money, how many billions and billions of taxpayer $$ did President George W. Bush fork out for an unnecessary war?

Different Administration, Different Priorities.

For Obama, health care reform is a "moral imperative." For George W. Bush, spreading "God's freedom" (aka Democracy) was a "moral imperative." Both endeavors require(d) taxpayer resources...

And if these supposedly "liberal" (whatever that word even means these days) pastors are indeed being used by the Democrat Party, will you concede that the Richard Land-led Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has been used by the Republican Party for most of the past 20-years or so? I don't recall Land putting much of his lobbying/advocacy efforts behind policies promoted by the Democratic Party...

Anonymous said...

And here the liberal comes to "save the day." Or wait, do liberals just show up espousing "reason" and "logical."

Why would the Ethics committee for the SBC advocate the Democratic party? An ETHICS committee if they should advocate for a political party at all, which they shouldnt, clearly they should advocate the party that is in line with their ETHICS. The democratic "liberal" party has no ethics, therefore, an ethics committee wouldnt advocate them.

Its okay BDW, the blogosphere will still always be a place to voice your opinion. Even if you associate yourself with CBF and other very non-influential groups of people. God Bless the blogosphere.

Big Daddy Weave said...


I've been stopping by Dr. Barber's fine Baptist blog for several years now - probably while you were still in high school. Bart stops by my blog too. We get along quite well.

I know you don't like me. That's fine. But please save your hostility for another day.

There's nothing more annoying than know-it-all college kids. I TA for over 300 religion students each semester; many who sound just like you. Do yourself a favor and try to make your comments less personal. Sarcasm is cool in the right dose. But attacks and pot-shots get old. I admit that I sounded just like you when I started blogging. Reign yourself in and try to keep the dialogue civil.

Big Daddy Weave said...

If you feel the need, my e-mail is I don't want to contribute to comment thread drift...

Anonymous said...

Certainly no need for e-mail. Maybe you could just deal with your nonsense arguments about Land and the ETHICS commission.

Why exactly do you think Land should of advocated policies for a political party that has no ethics?

Now, I know you didnt come out and say that he should, but you implied it was wrong for him not to advocate for the ethicless party while he advocated the party with ethics. Doesnt it make since for land and the ETHICS commission to support a party that has ethics? Maybe I am confused about it is you have a problem with.

Anonymous said...

" I TA for over 300 religion students each semester; many who sound just like you"

I'm glad to hear that you have over 300 conservative students each semester. Looks like God has really made students passionate about truth and doctrine.

CB Scott said...

Big Daddy,

You already know my position related to President Obama's Health Care Bill.

You already know my position on the war.

So, just go ahead and respond mentally with what you know I would say to you if I were to post a comment in response to you attack on Mr. Bush and on you defense of President Obama.

What I want to say to you is not related to your positions on anything tonight.

What I want to say is I thought I was going to blow coffee out my nose laughing when I read your first response to Matt. :-) :-)

I was reading along just fine until;

"....There's nothing more annoying than know-it-all college kids...."

Now that was funny. I loved it. Big Daddy, we have rarely agreed on many things, but you are constantly amazing me.

Do you remember a few years ago when I said almost the same thing to you as you said to Matt?

Time has certainly flown by. I am aging and rapidly, I must say.

Here I am reading a "Middle-aged", cranky, hard as nails, Big Daddy, smackin' down on the college crowd.

Big Daddy, I must say, you are one of my favorite personalities in all of Blogtown.

In a couple of years bloggers will be calling you "cb of the left" :-)

BTW, you do know if I had challenged your position, you would be headed for the showers...again, don't you? :-)


r. grannemann said...

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's."

"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."

Not sure how you get the "ungenerous" Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid tax to be the moral equivalent of theft and "condemned in the Bible."

Public health reasons alone requires the expenditure of public funds to keep hepatitis off the streets and preclude a society ridden with tuberculosis.

Bill said...

To echo r.grannemann, putting the war and healthcare aside, I don't see how most of what the government takes our tax money for doesn't qualify as theft and redistribution, no matter whether there is a republican (GWB was no conservative) or democrat in office.

That doesn't mean I'm in favor of government run health-care. It's just more of the same. Gov continues to get bigger, no matter who is in office.

Bill said...

I do agree that the Christian idea of generosity and charity is not fulfilled by taking money under threat of force from one person and giving it to someone else. The idea is absurd.

Bart Barber said...

Good morning, BDW, and welcome.

I understand that your health has not been great in the recent past (or maybe that is old news). I'm glad to see you stirring.

1. "Liberal" in this post is applied in the political sense, not the theological sense. Socialized medicine (shoot, socialized ANYTHING, almost) is a liberal thing. So yes, every pastor in support of Obamacare is a liberal, at least in the political sense.

I believe that there is a tremendous overlap between political liberalism and theological liberalism, as well as a great overlap between political conservatism and theological conservatism. But, then, there are also striking exceptions, and too many to make it a rule. The recent New Baptist Covenant meeting, for example, had at least one speaker who claims to vote Republican consistently.

2. Don't make of me an unqualified supporter of all that either of our President Bushes did (can anyone say "TARP"?). President Bush (however more pleased I was with his administration than with President Obama's) was guilty of the same sin in many of the same ways (Medicare Part D, the aforementioned TARP, a series of budgets exhibiting an utter lack of self-control in Washington).

I do believe that national defense is a legitimate function of the government, and I do not believe that Iraq is an "unnecessary war" (nor does my beloved nephew over there right now).

My reasons for supporting Iraq were different from the President's stated reasons: Iraq invaded Kuwait. We went to war over Hussein's dangerous imperialistic ambitions. That war did not end, but only came to a cease-fire. The terms of that cease--fire were never met on Hussein's side. We merely picked up where we left off and finished the job as promised in the cease-fire agreement.

None of this would have happened if the United Nations were a member of the subphylum Vertebrata. :-) But whatever taxonomic description befits them, I'd be delighted to see them fossilized.

3. It may perhaps surprise you, but I would agree with you that religious conservatives in general and Southern Baptists in particular have been used by the GOP. In return, to some degree, we have used the GOP. This is similar to the manner in which those who believed that President Obama would take real steps to reduce abortion (rather than to secure taxpayer funding for more abortions as he is doing) have been used by the Democrats to get him elected.

As I see it, our options are (a) Be used by one of the major political parties, (b) Form some sort of an independent Christian party (scary thought to me), or (c) disengage from the public square entirely. Option (a), distasteful as it is, is the best of the three in my opinion

Big Daddy Weave said...


I think you completely missed my point.

My point was that neither the ERLC nor these pastors are being used by either party. Religious lobbies on Capitol Hill obviously promote public policies not political parties. Faith in Public Life tends to support policies supported by the Democratic Party and the ERLC tends to support policies supported by the Republican Party. That's the reality. In this instance, I do not believe that folks like Joel Hunter are being used by the Democrats.

Interesting you think that the Democratic Party has no "ethics." Meanwhile, I recall that Richard Land himself in the last year has endorsed two Democratic sponsored bills. One was an abortion-reduction bill and another was a tobacco-related bill. There is a good photo somewhere of Land and Ted Kennedy standing side-by-side. I think it's on my blog.


Come on now. I know you're an old-timer and 3 or 4 years ain't nothing but a thang for you. But in those 3 or 4 years here in the blogosphere, a good bit has changed right? 3 or 4 years back I may have begun my comments by firing off a personal comment or two. I'd like to think now my comments are more reasoned and full of substance :-)

I've gone from being a Matt to a true Big Daddy.

I'll give you the credit for that transformation.

I will have to respond to Bart later. Time for Sunday School.

Darby Livingston said...

Excellent post, Bart. I wish more people had a concept of theft bigger than "the neighbor kid stole my bike" and of coveting bigger than "I wish I had a wife like her." Why is it so difficult to see systemic theft and covetousness?

Big Daddy Weave said...

Back from a good service at Lake Shore Baptist Church here in Waco.


Thanks, I'm doing better. Got married, honeymooned in Italy and returned with mono, pancreatitis and a rather enlarged spleen.

Let me start off with a Danny Aikin quote:

"Some Christians have a problem separating conservative theology from conservative politics. The two are not always the same."

A person who supports a policy proposed by political "liberals" is not necessarily a political liberal. He or she is merely a person who happens to support a policy that is also supported by liberals! This applies to supporters of "Obamacare." Sure, many of those involved with the efforts of Faith in Public Life are indeed political liberals. Many are not, however.

I too believe that national defense is a legitimate function of government. Pretty sure that every Democrat will agree with you on that point. Many of us (including many military men and women) do not believe that the War in Iraq was "just" in a theological sense nor necessary.

I really think this whole discussion goes back to a person's views regarding taxes. Are you one who believes that the only biblical tax is a flat tax?? Your post seems to suggest so - at least that's how I read you.

I agree that Baptists of all stripes have used politicians and have been used by politicians and political parties. Regarding Obama's policies, we know that real change happens very very slowly in Washington. I don't know if it's our 24/7 cable news and internet culture which we live in or what but we seem to have forgotten how slow Washington moves. Obama took office in January. It's August. When I cast my vote for Obama, I didn't expect him to fulfill his campaign promises overnight.

Bart Barber said...

Aaron (BDW),

I do not believe that the flat tax is the only biblical tax. I believe that I am required to regard any tax imposed by the legitimate government as my legitimate obligation to that government (and there's no special weaseling in my employ of the word "legitimate...just leaving room for me to have said in 1773 that King George was not the legitimate sovereign of a land mass half a world away).

But, Jim Wallis and John Hay et al are not the government. They are people of faith saying that the only moral thing to do is to ask the government to take money from other people in order to fund health care. This is sold with a veneer of generosity and justice to the poor. I'm saying that generosity and justice to the poor consists of my generously giving out of my own resources. But if I look at other people and desire for the government to take away more of their money to fund either my health care expenses or the expenses of the people whom I choose, then that is covetousness.

So, to be clear, I am not questioning whether government is legitimately authorized by God (by the Constitution? That's entirely another question) to do such a thing as to tax people in order to fund health care. There is no such thing in the Bible as a test by which I determine which taxes are rightful to pay and which are not. If there is a tax, I am obligated to pay it.

Which, if you want an interesting conversation, puts me in the VERY UNCOMFORTABLE position of suggesting that Elizabeth Backus was in the wrong...but I digress.

What I am suggesting is not that government has no right to impose the tax and administer socialized medicine. Rather, I am saying that it is wrongful for Christians to call for the government to do so under the guise that Christianity requires our support of such a thing.

Bart Barber said...

To clarify:

Elizabeth Backus, by my thinking, was not wrong in opposing a religious tax, but she was wrong for refusing to pay it.

Bart Barber said...

...but whatever my mind says, my heart (deceitfully wicked as it is) is glad that she did what she did.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that people will make such certain pronouncements about what Jesus would do or what Christians should do with regard to an issue as nuanced and complex as healthcare.

Does Jesus want a single payer plan, a "public option", non-profit coops, a 25% top tax rate, or 36%, 40%, 70% and starting at what rate?

And if the public sector takes more and more resources of the private sector, will that make it easier or harder for churches and individuals to do good works?

I have been really inspired by books like Tim Keller's Ministries of Mercy, which encourages Christians to become more involved in helping people as the Good Samaritan did. As the public sector grows and the private sector wanes, however, it will make it more difficult to do that.

If healthcare today, what tomorrow? Food growing and distribution (lots of people go to bed hungry each night). Employment (lots of people don't have jobs). Transportation (lots of people don't have cars).

It seems to me that the concerns that common people have about being ruined with one illness, and the need of the poor to get access to good care are legitimate issues to address.

I am just not confident that the bills coming out the House and the Senate, as they currently exist, are the best way to go about that. And I am not sure our law makers, the President or the Press have even read the bills. I am confident the lobbyists on both sides have.

I am also confident that no living person can confidently say what Jesus wants in this situation.

It's one of those problems we have to work through together as a society. And different societies make come up with different answers. And Jesus is not mad at those societies that chose a different route from the one currently proposed.

Christian principles are correctly invoked in these discussions. But specific solutions cannot lay claim with confidence to the blessing of the Savior.


CB Scott said...


Is it not part of a shepherd's job to be diligent to keep the teeth of the wolf from the throats of the sheep?

Therefore, should not the shepherds God has assigned to His flocks speak against such an apparent wolf as is the National Healthcare bill?


Anonymous said...


Sure. Speak against the bad parts of any of the bills currently pending in the U.S. Congress.

There are certainly sometimes when the issues are clear.

What to do about healthcare overall, however, is tricky, and I am not sure Jesus is vested in any particular solution. Though many solutions may have odious parts that should be protested.

I, personally, suspect that the government option is terrible. I am not sure that we can get there, but I would prefer a more open market type of approach, with insurance only for big ticket items, more consumer innovation, and expanding the VA and public hospitals for the poor and uninsured.

But I would not suggest the Jesus is for my option.

That is the mistake of some our brethren when it comes to the pending bills.

CB, what tax rate do you think Jesus believes those who make more than $100,000 should pay?


CB Scott said...


The tax rate is not the issue here is it? The tax rate has been discussed many times before and will be again with the coming elections. We both know that.

The issue before us is a Healthcare Bill that cannot carry the freight on what is promised. The federal health programs in place at this moment will be insolvent within eight years. By the end of July this year our government borrowed 1.15 Trillion dollars. In the month of July alone our government borrowed 200 Billion.

In Miami alone the fraud in federal healthcare programs is over a billion dollars a year.

I realize that due to greed we have great problems with our present healthcare industry. There is no question about that. But "selling our souls to the company store is not the answer."

There is only one answer for the human condition. It is not socialism. It is not capitalism. Although, capitalism has been good to me. The answer is the gospel.


Ray said...

The health care debate is being framed under the broader category of concern for the poor. So my question is, how do we define poor? It seems the definition is fluid, always changing depending on which political action group is using the term.
As I understand the biblical term, its meaning reflects those who were incapable of providing for themselves either because they were a widow, orphan, slave, or had a physical handicap. It does not refer to those who were healthy and able to work.