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Religious Left Rallies for Obamacare’s Final Stand

Posted By Mark D. Tooley On March 5, 2010 @ 12:00 am In FrontPage | 18 Comments

The Religious and Evangelical Left, plus the Islamic Society of North America and a few others, are making a final Custer-like stand on behalf of much cherished Obamacare.  In an ad featured in The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper aimed at congressional staffers, a religious coalition called “Faithful Reform in Health Care” demanded that Congress “complete the task at hand on behalf of the millions who are left out and left behind in our current health care system.”

Supposedly, these insistent religious groups speak on behalf of millions of religious Americans, most of whom are politically more conservative than the general population.  If Americans as a whole reject Obamacare, then almost certainly most religiously active Americans oppose Obamacare.  Presumably, the various bishops and other ostensibly important clerics who signed this ad are hoping that Capitol Hill readers will not realize that most church goers don’t look to Episcopal or Lutheran or Methodist bishops for wise political counsel.

“Opportunities to comprehensively address our broken health care system are rare,” the pro-Obamacare religious coalition insisted with a typical sense of panic. “Decades of failed attempts at reform testify to the difficulty of this task, and we know that the current effort has not been easy. However, we now stand closer than ever before to historic health care reform. Turning back now could mean justice delayed for another generation and an unprecedented opportunity lost.”

Foisting government control of the health care system on America is so urgent that lawmakers are implicitly implored to disregard their constituents’ views.  The old Religious Left, now joined by the emerging Evangelical Left, typically joined by left-wing Catholic groups and the oddly paired Islamic Society, has insisted for much of the last century that biblical social justice equals nearly unrestricted statism.  “We are communities of faith who have supported comprehensive health care reform for decades,” they noted with accuracy in their ad.  “We have also offered vocal support – and occasional constructive criticism – of the health care reform effort over the last year.”

In truth, the Religious Left et al would prefer a Canadian/British style single payer system rather than trifle with Obamacare’s more complicated preservation of private insurance under tight federal control.  But the Religious Left rightly understands that Obamacare’s incrementalism likely would lead to more total government subjugation. So they are willing to be patient.  “We know that no comprehensive health care reform bill will be perfect,” they indulgently opined.  “Indeed, if any piece of legislation ever fulfills our full vision, our vision is far too small,” they candidly admitted.  Likely for much of the Religious Left and its allies, their holistic “vision” would entail coercive state management of every arena of human life.

Traditional Christians and Jews have understood that Providence has a vital vocation for families, religious institutions, private business, independent charities, and a whole range of non-government actors.  Traditionally, they have believed that the government only does, to paraphrase Lincoln, what the people cannot do for themselves.   But the old Religious Left, joined increasingly by Evangelical Left wannabes, leaves almost no civic space for the private sphere.  In their almost totalitarian perspective, the state is an endless cornucopia of goods and services providing for every human need.   Families, churches, businesses and charities become almost inconsequential, or are, at best, mere compliant hand maidens to an all powerful government.  Most religious people would find this fantasy nightmarish.  But this nightmare animates nearly all the social justice activism of religious leftists.

Seizing control of America’s health care industry is naturally a key ingredient of the Religious Left’s statist absolutism.  They rightly understand that Obamacare’s defeat could forever forestall socialized medicine in America.  Hence the dire urgency.  “As people of faith, we envision a society where every person is afforded health, wholeness and human dignity,” their ad sermonized, once again assuming non-governmental solutions are incapable of assuring health or dignity.  Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr, they beseeched:  “Let us not delay health care justice any longer. This is your moment for political courage, vision, leadership and faith. We urge you to take heart and move meaningful health care reform forward.”

There are the usual claims that without government control, chaos and suffering will ensue.  After all, how can anything be accomplished unless tax-funded bureaucrats are in charge?  The religious leftists assert that Obamacare’s demise will mean “tens of thousands will continue to die needlessly each year,” “tens of millions will remain uninsured,”  “health costs will continue to grow much faster than wages,” “many millions of hard-working people and their children will join the ranks of the uninsured,” “businesses…will either drop coverage or will be unable to make needed investments,” and the “nation’s economy – and its ability to create jobs – will suffer.”

How nice that the religious leftists actually mentioned “businesses” and the need for “investments.”  Maybe this was a talking point added by the coalition’s political consultants.  For the Religious Left, private businesses are the enemy, motivated only by greed and private, and to be suffered only grudgingly, and only then if under a tight government leash entailing endless regulation and high taxation.

Signers of this “Call for Political Courage, Vision, Leadership, and Faith” include officials of the Episcopal, Presbyterian USA, Evangelical Lutheran, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist denominations, along with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners, Evangelicals for Social Action, the National Council of Churches, Quakers, Mennonites, left-wing Catholic orders like the Maryknollers, a couple Muslim groups and several Jewish organizations.  Some of these groups, or at least their elites, have very little theology any more.  But they are increasingly unified behind a single unifying spiritual principle:  worshipping at the altar of the state.


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