03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Republicans Hijack Religion in Health Care Debate

"Herod care" anyone?

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference led last night's "prayercast" co-sponsored by the Family Research Council.

In the "prayercast," Rodriguez prayed:

Heavenly father, righteous God, in this season as we celebrate birth of our savior, the one who came to give us life, everlasting life abundant, we come in His name to intercede for that very gift of life. Father, the same spirit of Herod who 2000 years ago attempted to exterminate the life of the Messiah today lives even America. ...

If you're backing health care reform you're a new Herod. Obama (and presumably all Democrats and sane Republican voters, is (accordingly) trying to kill babies, the innocent, as did King Herod who did a preemptive strike against all male children after he decided to kill the baby Jesus.

So a big "Merry Christmas" from your friendly evangelicals, now using this holiday to quash a bill designed to help the poor. And another example of how some evangelicals on the right are willing to trivialize and demean their scriptures in their anti-Obama crusade.

Okay, there may or may not be a God. But if there is and he's the God the religious right claims to worship, then he is probably not pleased with them. I say this judging by their own oft-stated standards, not mine.

If the God described in the Bible exists and if the fundamentalists are correct that the Bible describes his likes and dislikes then the greatest sin is taking God's name in vain and using God for non-holy purposes -- say, grandstanding in the Senate against health care reform and dragging God into it.

Maybe God doesn't want to become a shill for the insurance industry -- as have the Republicans and the "preachers" who support them.

I was raised by an evangelical leader of the religious right and was his sidekick for a bit before coming to my senses. So this is home territory for me, the stuff I was literally taught at my mother's knee. Like Mom said: "Never take the Lord's name in vain!"

According to scripture humans may not call upon God to place a curse on any individual. To call on God to curse or damn a person or situation (say to call for Obama's death by quoting Psalm 109:8 on T-shirts), or for the defeat of health care reform is therefore a vain attempt at usurping God's power. In the Bible people get eaten by worms for stuff like this.

So when the Republican far right "pro-life" and pro-insurance industry lobbyists took a time out to be led by some of the nation's biggest religious flakes, paranoids and hysterics in "prayer" to delay and defeat health care reform they were playing with eternal damnation (if their theology is correct).

From the evangelical point of view, our words must be well pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased us with His own blood "that He might redeem us from all iniquity [lawlessness] and purify unto Himself a peculiar people [a people of His own], zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). May the fruit of our lips always honor "that worthy Name by the which ye are called" (James 2:7)

Religious Right leaders and their supporters in Congress attended a "prayercast" Wednesday night held by the Family Research Council. Attendees asked God to kill the bill.

James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, spoke to the group by phone hookup. According to Rachel Maddow, he said, "I just pray that you will frustrate the plans of the Evil One, and revive us again with conviction and forgiveness. Republicans Sen. Sam Brownback (Kansas) was there too with Rep. Todd Akin (Missouri) who spoke by video. He said the Pilgrims believed "that the Bible was a blueprint for all of mankind... to tell us about economics, to tell us about education, to tell us about government."

The Family Research Council held the one-hour webcast. Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), Jim DeMint (SC), Sam Brownback (KS) and Rep. Randy Forbes were there. Tony Perkins (well known paranoid and delusional moralist leader of the Family Research Council) prayed:

"Life and death hinges on the Senate health care bill. We face significant threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedoms posed by the government plan to take over health care. There have been a number of critical hours in American history. Our nation has struggled mightily and, under God, always risen to the challenges before us. Tonight, we will face this moral crisis by taking action and obeying the Biblical mandate to pray for our nation and its leaders."

Dobson referred to President Obama as: "I just pray that you will frustrate the plans of the Evil One [Obama and/or Satan take your pick]." Pastor Jim Garlow made the case that the reform "violates nearly all Ten Commandments."

Bachmann's contribution? -- "And we say oh Lord we deserve your wrath. But would you yet give our nation mercy? We ask for your mercy. We cry out to you oh God this is our moment and this is our time Lord. We are at the end of ourselves and now we need you. We need you Lord."

All this to stand up for the insurance industry against the widows and orphans! Quite a stretch for "Christians" wouldn't you think?

I'd hate to still be an evangelist these days (as I used to be when -- sad to say -- as I young man I was my late religious right leader father's sidekick back in the 70s and 80s.) How could I ever tell anyone about Jesus now when the public image of Christ has been hijacked by the Republicans using religious language to defeat compassion?

Let's get one thing straight, and I say this as a former "pro-life" leader: I don't think that the Republicans using abortion funding in the health care bill as an excuse don't give a rat's ass about the unborn. If they did, and if their various presidents over the last 30 years plus had, they would have instituted massive health care reform for families, mothers and children rather than fighting it. Because the chief cause of abortion is economic hardship. How is a mom supposed to pay for health care? (For that matter how is a dad supposed to either?)

Anyone who cares about the unborn would want to go to a single payer universal system tomorrow no questions asked. Take away the economic uncertainty from millions of Americans -- and health care costs are the biggest worry of all -- and you've gone a long way to a family and child-friendly climate.

So no, the people who have encouraged Africans to burn condoms and practice abstinence only non-sex sex, (Hi Pastor Rick Warren are you listening?!) in other words the people who are stopping health care reform, are the same hypocrites using health care reform as a means to defeat the man they hate -- President Obama.

That is their real agenda: stop the uppity black man!

They care about only one thing: the defeat and humiliation of the black man who has the temerity to be smarter than they are and/or they are dupes of the Dick Army-led insurance lobby.

In the process they have turned their hand against God, and, if he exists and if he's the God of the Bible (an even bigger if) he is being exploited by the Republicans today. By their own beliefs they stand condemned not by me or you but by their own double standards born of born-again hatred for our president.

Let's give Jesus the last word (as recorded in Matthew 7:15, 20-23)

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves... Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them... Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'"

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of PATIENCE WITH GOD: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism)