THE BLOG
07/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Christianizing the Health Care Debate

It is time to Christianize the health care debate. Ok, before the radical atheists come at me with their blazing keyboards let me explain the reference. A hundred years ago my great grandfather Walter Rauschenbusch wrote a book called Christianizing the Social Order which called for the reorganization of society that reflected the economic and social justice preached by Jesus in the Gospel with a special emphasis on the needs and concerns of the working poor being crushed by the industrial revolution.

When I say Christianize the health care system I mean that we should change the vantage point from where we hold this debate. Whether talking about a single payer plan, or an additional national government plan the loudest objections are coming from those who have excellent health care such as members of congress, lobbying groups, and the wealthy. The impetus for our need to correct our health care system is not that it is failing the rich -- it is that it is failing the poor, the fifty million or so Americans who have no or little health care and for whom getting sick requires deciding whether or not to risk bankruptcy to get healthy. Christianizing the health care debate would give the concerns of poorest of our society equal weight to the concerns of the wealthy.

In the past few decades Christians have too often thrown their lot in with free market Darwinism emphasizing personal free will over collective responsibility. This has led to the ridiculous prosperity preachers and dangerous missionary mercenaries. But if we look back a bit further we can see the important role that Christians had in the civil rights movement, the Great Society and the New Deal. Christianizing the health care debate means applying the inspiring power of religion to promote self sacrifice and compassion in one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Christians should join with people of compassion from all religious traditions including secular ones and put pressure on our elected officials to serve the needs of those whom Jesus loved best and who are the most vulnerable of our society.