Speaker Nancy Pelosi was careful to thank the Religious Left for its ardent support of Obamacare before the fateful vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“That is why we’re proud and also humbled today to act with the support of millions of Americans who recognize the urgency of passing health care reform,” she declared from the House floor. “And more than 350 organizations, representing Americans of every age, every background, every part of the country, who have endorsed this legislation.” She specifically cited the Catholic Health Association and the United Methodist Church for having lobbied Congress to “Say yes to health care reform.”
Pelosi’s website lists all the major pro-Obamacare groups to which special thanks are due. It’s mostly labor unions but also lists the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and a coalition called Faithful Reform in Health Care that included Mainline Protestant agencies plus Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the Islamic Society of North America.
A government take-over of America’s health care system is a long sought, messianic dream of many decades for the Religious Left. But the version of Obamacare that Congress approved is still somewhat of a disappointment to the true believers, who still insist that direct federal control through a single payer system is God’s plan for medical justice. “We are not finished,” aptly explained a cautiously pleased Jim Winkler of the United Methodist lobby office. “There is more work to be done in the weeks, months and years ahead to fulfill the need for health care around the globe.” As Winkler explained divine sanction for Obamacare: “Jesus’ ministry serves as an example and a call to serve the least and the last among us. He asked us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves — setting forth a faith grounded in God’s abundance, generosity and a capacity for love that knows no bounds.”
The Religious Left version of Jesus’ love is an unceasingly expanding federal welfare state that coercively seizes assets from one segment of society for redistribution to other segments, according to coarse political calculations, and with all the efficiency and compassion for which mammoth state bureaucracies are renowned. Traditionally, Christianity and Judaism have understood charity as voluntary expressions of love channeled primarily through families, religious institutions and private philanthropies, with the government called to do only what other equally important social institutions cannot do for themselves. But for the Religious Left, the state is God’s primary mediating institution.
According to the United Methodist Church’s official Social Principles: “We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide al citizens with health care.” With all the theological and economic wisdom characteristic of the Religious Left, the United Methodists further declare: “Like police and fire protection, health care is best funded through the government’s ability tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities.” Apparently God endorsed government controlled health care in Ezekiel 34:4 when he told ancient Israel: “You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured.”
Of course, this divine admonishment could just as well be aimed at modern Communist Cuba’s government health care, where hospital patients commonly languish without food or proper medicine or even clean sheets, absent special bribes for officials or intense attention from their families. And it could also apply towards more democratic forms of socialized medicine in places like Great Britain, where patients must await approval for advanced medical techniques from rationing government regulatory agencies, sometimes too late. The Religious Left generally is not as interested in quality of result as in equality of result. Though even the latter proves elusive in socialized medicine, which creates its own new variations of inequalities and favoritisms, as politically determined by governments rather than private forces.
Naturally, Evangelical Left icon Jim Wallis of Sojourners was much relieved by Obamacare’s passage, although he also still dreams of more direct socialized medicine. “From the very beginning, more than a year ago, the faith community called on the president and Congress to follow three principles in health-care reform: that it be framed as a moral issue; that it provide coverage to all who need health care, and that the sanctity of life be respected with no federal funding for abortion.” Wallis claimed that Obamacare achieved all three goals, although his third claim is especially disingenuous.
Wallis is still distressed by many Americans’ continued resistance to government-controlled health care, which evinces America’s supposedly “poisonous political atmosphere.” Inevitably, he rehashed accusations that “anti-health care ‘tea party’ demonstrators” hurled racial epithets at pro-Obamacare congressmen. After all, what else could explain opposition to Big Government than racism as part of a larger “massive campaign of distortion and fear?” Wallis ominously opined that Obamacare will be “improved over time” and one “step” towards fixing a “broken system.”
Professional Religious Left activists like Wallis primarily see religion as an organizing tool for extinguishing private alternatives to state control of health care and virtually every other facet of human life. Obamacare, with its frustrating maintenance of private insurance, is an insufficient but a hoped for first step towards the eradication of private medicine and, the Religious Left inwardly hopes, ultimately of the private economy and private charity. After all, there is no salvation outside Big Government.