Health care reform looks all but assured for President Barack Obama. Many will celebrate, some will continue yelling nasty things at elected officials, and pundits will reflect on it all, trying to make a name for themselves in the process. Yet for the spiritual among us, there is a more fundamental question: how could anyone religious have opposed the bill?
According to Jewish law, which I admire greatly and interpret loosely, you must do anything to save a life, save three things: commit murder, perform idol worship, or engage in serious sexual improprieties. I imagine that many other religions require their practitioners to do nearly anything to preserve life, as well.
So let's put the idea of saving life together with what we know about health care reform. Proper health care saves lives. Health care reform enables more Americans to access it. On these grounds alone, many of our religions would encourage - if not require - us to support the recent bill. So how is it, then, that many of the same people who fear that America is becoming 'Godless' so vehemently opposed health care reform?
To be fair, for social conservatives who equate abortion with murder, it may have made some sense to oppose the reform. That is, until the federal government made clear that it would not subsidize abortion procedures with tax dollars. But even after a compromise on abortion was reached, criticism for health care reform continued to pour in from many people of faith, and even on the grounds of faith itself. Such criticism, at best, may stem from genuine and well-meaning confusion. But more broadly, it highlights the ability of the right-wing propaganda machine to conflate ultraconservative public policy with the divine. It is a blight that no health care policy could possibly cure.
To the "religious (and sane)" among us, as Paul Raushenbush so aptly put it, there may actually be no better way to imbue public policy with religious fervor than through health care reform. (Whether to mix religion and politics at all is another question.) If God created - or continues to create - the world, then what could be more sacred than healing God's most intelligent creatures? Health care reform works hand in hand with the God I believe in.