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Do Christians Oppose Universal Health Care Because They Think People are Lazy?

Someone directed me to this gentlemen here who labels himself a conservative, the feral conservative, in fact.   I’m not impressed.  One of the articles is called “The Ten Things You Must Believe in order to Oppose Universal Health Care.”  It is filled with nonsense.   This notion that the only way you can care for people is by supporting and implementing universal health care is positively ridiculous.  I’m seeing it so much lately that I wonder if there are talking points somewhere.  My blog (which you are reading now) is just one example of a place where it is affirmed that we should like to take care of those who need help and proposes other mechanisms to do it.

You may contend that these mechanisms would not be effective, but it cannot be said- as people are insisting- that Christian conservatives don’t care.   Of course, people are saying it.  It is up to the reasonable person to challenge insinuations to the contrary.  Good intentions employing bad arguments that are essentially sentimental propaganda should not be tolerated.

I wanted to briefly speak to one of the Feral Conservative’s latest posts, The Moral Compass of America’s Compassionate Conservatives.

He says,

After President Obama signed health care reform into law, I noted the reaction of the “compassionate conservatives” on line, in person, and in talk media.  In short, their reaction is; “I do not want my money going to lazy people.” The presumption is that these reforms are the redistribution of wealth; taken from hard honest, hard working, self reliant people and handed out to immoral, dishonest, human parasites.  Indeed!

So who are these lazy people?

Well, what I would like to know is where are these people saying that they don’t want their money going to lazy people!  I see he doesn’t provide a source…

I’ve been reading an awful lot and I haven’t seen anything that could rightly be distilled into this position.   Any argument along those lines is much more sophisticated.  For example, when laying out my long argument for why I was against universal health care, after providing passages speaking about ‘laziness’ I said,

Now, we should be clear here that these passages- like nearly all passages about ’social justice’ type issues- are speaking only to the Christian within the Christian community.  So, it would not be right to mindlessly extend these prohibitions to the non-Christian community. We might chastise a lazy fellow believer, but we are not called upon to chastise our lazy neighbor, because we do not have the same basis to make our appeal, which is Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:2).

That said, we can from these and other passages draw some important principles.  Let us begin with one big one:  in the name of love it is never right to enslave anyone.

The last bolded sentence makes a critical point that I have heard conservatives speaking to.  Namely, we are not doing anyone any favors by creating a culture of dependency, which welfare programs invariably- and demonstrably- always tend to do.  On this argument, it isn’t that the people receiving the services are lazy, it is that the services will, over time, make them lazy.  It will make them de-value the services that they receive and become ungrateful for receiving them, carrying themselves with the arrogant notion that the services they are receiving are not the product of a compassionate society but that the services they are receiving are owed to them.

This is a legitimate concern, but the sentimentalists reduce this to “You just don’t want to help those lazy people.”  Not only is that not true, it is dishonest to say otherwise.  And you can tell me that Jesus would have happily promoted universal health care if only he had been asked but I know he wouldn’t have said it was ok to flat out lie to implement and defend it.

The aptly named Feral Conservative then says,

“Lastly, I noticed that a majority of “compassionate conservatives” profess to be Christian.  I would remind them that in the Book of Matthew, 25:45, it is written “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.”

He admits that he is not a Christian or a Bible scholar.  I’d be happy if he merely read accurately.  This passage does not support his position.  Read it again:

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.”

As I argued in one of my recent posts, Christians are among the most generous people on the planet and in America alone last year gave out more than 100 billion dollars- without being coerced- to churches, schools, and hospitals.  Americans together donated more than 300 billion dollars- that’s 1/3 of the amount that the current health care bill will cost over ten years donated in just a single year.  Read it again:  in 10 years, this health care bill will cost (we are told) 940 billion dollars.  In that same time, assuming current trends persist, Americans will donate more than 3 trillion dollars, three times the amount that this health care bill will cost.

The difference between this and what Mr. Feral proposes and the passage he used to support it is that these are the donor’s own dollars.  The passage does not read:

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not make somebody else do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.”

The Bible constantly and consistently urges individuals to be generous with their own money and resources.  It never, to my knowledge, urges people to be generous with other people’s money and resources and never says, or even gives the impression, that we will be considered morally righteous at an individual level by working to make other people carry out morally righteous deeds in our stead.

In a recent comment the person insisted that he would have no problem with the government forcing him to help someone else.  What I want to know is, “What are you waiting for?”  Why should you need the government to poke you with a stick before you are ‘loving’?

Perhaps we should raise a new objection to universal health care:  it isn’t that the people receiving the care are lazy, it’s that the tender-hearted ‘truly compassionate’ people are lazy… they want to have people helped, but they aren’t willing to do it themselves unless the government tells them to do it or if they can get everyone else forced to ‘help’ in the same way.

I for one do not believe that it is any ‘help’ to make an entire nation wards of the state.



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    • ard77 on April 1, 2010 at 8:16 am

    God knows what’s in your heart; you can not fool Him. He knows it’s all about money. The overwhelming majority of the Conservative Christian Right cares only about money and their tax dollars. They could care less whether someone lives or dies. The world sees this, and than we wonder why people are turned off by the Gospel and Jesus.

    • Mountn Man on April 3, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Ard77 makes a pretty strong, BUT WRONG statement. Numerous studies have been done on the giving of conservatives vs. liberals, or the left vs. right. Consitently, when studies are objective, conservatives, as a whole, overwhelmingly out give liberals.
    Next, as far as the world seeing this. What does the world see? World Vision, Samaritans Purse, Habitat For Humanity, The Red Cross. All of these orginizations were started by Christians. Some of the largest charitable orginizations in the entire world.
    When it comes to giving, as a nation, the US, OUTSIDE of government given aid, is THE LARGEST giving nation. Many nations, more socialist than ours, believe it is governments responsibility to take care of things, and so giving BEYOND their taxes is very low. Countries that claim to give more than the US per capita, ONLY look at governmental aid.
    What we have are people like Ard77 seeing ONLY what they WANT to see. Refusing to look at facts that disagree with their world view.
    When the tsunami hit Indonesia, it wasn’t the UN that accomplished anything, it was the ministries that were already there with infastructure already in place. The UN showed up, placed their cameras, and took credit for what was getting done.

    • Peter Wolfe on September 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    This is patently false assertion that christian privately ran health care with nonprofit support cannot work on its face. Look at the 19th century and throughout history other than a small futile era cause it won’t work. Its plain and simple apathy towards the poor or the genetically malfunctioned. Quite pathetic that health care and necessities are private business anyways. Look into the true Bible not your conservative re-edited bible. This is why people are leaving the churches cause of the excuse by the middle to upper classes apathy towards the poor. They encourage the poor to repocreate for power and control over us. Perhaps they know there could be doubts about tyheir own religion and want to enslave th epoor people like myself else. Making excuses for the well off perhaps? Coveting isn’t a good thing like idotry isn’t either.

    • Anthony on September 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Well, that was barely coherent.

    First of all, I’m pretty sure that I know the Bible better than you.

    Second of all, my family is not too far from the Federal poverty line. We are lower middle class, at best. So you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Finally, my daughter was born with spina bifida, which I think qualifies for ‘genetically malfunctioned.’ In short, you will have to get rid of your silly assumptions and look at the argument again based on what I actually say, instead thinking you know what I REALLY mean.

    Such arrogance.

    • George on September 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    This back and forth doesn’t address the real question – What does God want to happen? What did He tell us to do?

    No one says churches and charities can’t do a good job or have an important role – but are people still in need? What Christian can argue against the Samaritan tending the sick and expect to be rewarded?

    A Christian nation does as a nation what Christ has told us to do. Those who vote to not do these things must – what are they going to tell the Lord on Judgment Day – that he didn’t think God meant for “We the People” to do it?

    For those counting alone on their religious affiliation to see them through – I suggest a reread of Matthew 25:31-46 as to what the Lord said He will do.

    • Anthony on September 20, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Well, I agree, what does God want to happen? What did he tell us? Your comment implies that you think God has told us something contrary to what I’ve said, but you haven’t given much by way of example.

    I was not aware that this was a ‘Christian nation.’ Just to take one example, Jesus said to go into all nations making disciples, baptizing, and teaching, and such. You think we are a ‘Christian nation’ and that such a nation does what Christ told us to do. Do you believe the state and federal government should make evangelism and discipleship part of its duties?

    When a child is born in America, should it be given a birth certificate and a baptism or christening? What if the child is born to parents of atheists?

    No one can argue against the Samaritin tending to the sick. That’s pretty much my point in this post and the several that I’ve linked to from it. There is a big difference between the Samaritan helping people and the Samaritan going to his neighbor and forcing his neighbor to cough up the money and then setting up a bureaucracy to do the work so the Samaritan can go home and put his feet up and relax thinking he’s done a ‘good deed.’

    I would be happy to hear any Bible passage that gives explicit permission to Christians to use the government to do their good works, ‘Christian nation’ or not. If someone wants to argue that we can hire out secular humanists to do ‘good works’ then I’d be happy to hear the actual passages to support that.

    • Feral on September 23, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for the plug on my blog.
    In reply, a quote from Gandhi comes to mind where he says, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
    Your worship of mammon is typical of American Christians and your passive acceptance of an unjust economic model makes me question your motives. As Archbishop Dom Helder Camara said, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
    You assume that the money you have collected in a corrupt system is your money earned in a just manner.
    You translate your financial fortune as proof of your virtue, a rationalization that is quite common.
    And lastly, it is not THE government, it is OUR government.

    • RJ on September 23, 2010 at 7:22 am

    You last posting hits it. I’d like to quote you, replacing the “you” with “we”.

    A member of the Christian Left

    • Anthony on September 23, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Hi Feral,

    There was a man who loved Paul so much that he robbed Peter to do it. When another man points out that the Bible says, “Thou shalt not steal” he retorts, “Oh, you and your worship of mammon!”

    My ‘passive acceptance of an unjust economic model’ besides reflecting utter ignorance of the whole scope of my thinking and the sheer arrogance that you on the left think you REALLY know what I believe may, at worst, leave hundreds of millions a little hungrier and perhaps also cold- but they would still be free. When YOU take OUR government on the march in the name of ‘compassion’, if history is any guide, you will leave the bodies of hundreds of millions in your wake and hundreds of millions more shackled behind iron curtains.

    That you think Christ would have any part in such ‘compassion’ shows just why we shouldn’t put too much weight on your perception of Christ or Christians.

    History tells us exactly where the road ends in the direction that you would go. The better course (where ‘better’ is defined by fewer corpses stacked along the side of the road) is to realize that ALL systems are corrupt, and always will be. Therefore, even in the name of ‘compassion’ or the name of ‘Christ’ one chooses the system that truly is best for the most number of people.

    This latter statement isn’t necessarily derived from explicit statements in the Scriptures. What is explicit is “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not murder.” The systems you propose always turns to theft and murder because by golly accusing them of ‘worshiping mammon’ to compel them to go hungry themselves so that someone else can eat just never works.

    You cannot escape human nature. If you, feral conservative, joined by your friend RJ, were suddenly in charge, no doubt the heaps of rotting corpses would be high. Naturally you would start with us ‘rich Christians’ and you wouldn’t feel too bad. But I hereby warn you- it never ends with the elimination of the ‘unfavored’ ones. The definition of ‘unfavored’ shifts quickly and often.

    Maybe you’ll make it to the third purge. But I can’t promise anything. 😉

    • Feral on September 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

    I am not sure of the history books you read or the path you assume I am on, but in either case your fantasy of what I propose is just your way yo justify your position and discredit mine. There are many modern day examples of governments run by the people, for the people where the results have been far superior to the selfish “I got mine” attitude that you and yours espouse. As far as I can tell, there are no asterisks next to the message of Christ that we need to love one another, help one another, but you seem to be able to weasel your way out of your Christian obligations better than a Philadelphia lawyer can find a loophole in a tax law. You used the term “Rich Christians” and I find that rather odd. If Christians wish to be with God in heaven and if God has already stated that being rich makes that difficult – if not impossible – what is the goal of a Rich Christian?
    The heaps of rotting corpses are already high, my friend. You just choose to ignore them. But as Upton Sinclair said, “”It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

    • Anthony on September 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    And Mark Twain said, “You can’t reason a man out of a position he didn’t reason himself into.”

    You haven’t bothered to react at all to the specific objections I made to your characterizations. For example, I set the record straight about the idea that someone like myself objects to universal health care because they think its wrong to give to lazy people.

    Instead, you’ve taken on the role of Freud, continuing to think that no matter what I say, YOU know what I REALLY think. You know nothing about me. If you had even bothered to read the comments you would have noted for example that in fact my family is right on the edge of what the Federal government considers to be ‘in poverty.’ I am the primary care giver of my disabled daughter. Does that sound like someone who is living his life currently as though my salary is in view?

    You should really be ashamed of yourself.

    Your whole argument depends on your perception of what people who object to UHC REALLY think as opposed to what they ACTUALLY say. This is offensive and the epitome of arrogance. You reflect this in other ways, too. For example, though you yourself reject Jesus as your Lord, you presume to think you know better than those who do accept Jesus as their Lord precisely how Jesus should carry out their lives.

    Of course, since you are not bound by the Scriptures like I am, what the Scriptures actually say doesn’t really matter, but I shall give you a pointer- Jesus never said anything that would make us think that it is ok to steal.

    When you take something that doesn’t belong to you, even if in the name of compassion, it is still stealing.

    I say that as a person that, here in America at least, would be regarded by many as ‘poor.’ My lack of financial status does not justify my going to my neighbor and FORCING him to help me improve my lot.

    But then, as Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

    The countries you speak of… they aren’t Greece and Cuba, perhaps? 😉

    • Feral on September 23, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    So now I am Freud? (and an ashamed Freud at that!). No matter, you will paint me as you will to suit your bias. Not much I can do about that.
    Oh, and you are “bound by scripture”. Well I guess that settles it. Who could possibly argue with a man who is bound by scripture? Oh wait, there are numerous people I know, some ordained ministers, who are also “bound by scripture” and yet they hold an entirely different point of view from yours. No, don’t tell me. Let me guess. You’re right and they are wrong. And you are “bound by scripture” to say that. Great.
    I see that I am a thief? I take things that do not belong to me? Well, Perry Mason, I’d like to see some evidence of that.
    You, on the other hand, are a thief when you take the freedoms and protections of your society and government and then refuse to pay for it. In legal terms, that’s called theft of services. In moral terms, it’s called pairing rights with responsibilities.
    Oh, and now you are quoting Thatcher! I am shocked. The woman who enabled a huge government supported transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy is against socialism! Who knew? The problem with capitalism is that eventually one small group owns it all and the rest are enslaved.
    Cuba? Greece? No.
    Try Denmark and the nations that surround it.

    • Anthony on September 23, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Yes, there are people who hold different notions on the Scripture who say that they are ‘bound by Scripture.’ However, what a reasonable man does is provide an example of the contested passage. You’re just taking pot shots, now. If you wanted to take the time to actually analyze a passage, I’m your huckleberry. The point is that you’re not going to get anywhere with me or any Christian who is ‘bound by the scripture’ unless you actually provide Scripture passages to support the contention at hand. If you can provide a passage that justifies a Christian using the government to carry out his charitable aims, go ahead and do it already and spare me the theatrics.

    I am more than happy to pay for the services I receive. I don’t really know what you’re talking about. I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. I think you’re just throwing stuff against the wall hoping something will stick.

    Why not Cuba and Greece? Are they not the epitome of governments caring for their citizens? Why do you exclude them?

    But even ‘Denmark and the nations that surround it’ are showing the same problems, are they not? I don’t know what the current status is, but I recall reading that many of these have run up serious deficits as well. Didn’t Denmark have to impose austerity measures recently? I’m pretty sure they have. Is that really the example you want to give?

    If you don’t mind me exercising my religion in the government, along with compulsory and universal health care, do you object to me demanding that the government make marriage only between a man and a woman? Or how about we have universal health care but make it a requirement that people go to church? This is ‘our’ government, right? If you think we can legislate compassion than I should be able to legislate morality.

    Something tells me that you only want ‘Christ’s’ values in government only insofar as you happen to personally agree with them. Otherwise, you’d much rather they stay out. Eh?

    I note that you still have not dealt with the substance of my objections.

    • Stephen Ogley on March 3, 2011 at 6:29 am

    I live in the UK where we have had universal health care since 1948. Are we lazy? No. Has the health care made us lazy? No! I can’t believe that is being put forward as an argument. (Income support is a different issue – the UK doesn’t give income support to lazy people.) Are we lazy in wanting the government to provide health care? Yes, because it makes things so much easier. Does that stop Christians helping the poor? Hell, no.

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