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What Would Jesus Do… About Healthcare?

by Hakim Bellamy 2009-08-19 13:03

Before delving too deeply into conjecture about what the “Son of Man” (Acts 7: 54-57) would do, I must fully disclose my spiritual position for reasons of integrity, impartiality and intent. 

I grew up in the church. Sunday schools, vacation bible schools, choir rehearsal, bible study, you name it, I was there. 

As far as philosophy, I’m cool with all the precepts and commandments. Love the “do unto others stuff” Jesus was spittin’, as well as the “you are me, I am you, we aught to treat each other like God is within us” stuff he was livin’. I dig the parables that he spoke just as much as the parable that he was and all, it’s just the subjective interpretation of this man’s bible-ography that gets me all unsanctified from time to time. 

What I said was, “To the opponents of healthcare I would pose this question, ‘what would Jesus Do?’” Then, I facetiously followed up with, “Probably write his Congressperson or Senator, of course, because we all know Jesus wouldn’t want any of his lil’ children to suffer, right?” 

Suffer what, you may ask? 

Suffer the “I got mine, you better get yours”, pay or die healthcare system in this country. 

My opinion was rooted in the logic that Jesus wasn’t a “fend for yourself” kind of guy, so this American healthcare hustle that has been the pride and joy of the capitalist paradigm for big business and corporate government wouldn’t have worked so well for him, I imagine. 

I remember him being more of a “brother’s keeper” kind of guy, dare even a “socialist” of sorts but that could be considered blasphemy in certain parts of this country where the far up in class and the far right in religion get “far out” together. 

Thankfully, I have some super savvy cats in my Facebook blogosphere that keep me informed, and in this case, saved me from myself before I started prematurely shopping for a new brand of theology. Mountainair, New Mexico friend, poet and organizer, Vanessa Vaile reminded me not to count out the religious left. The Sojourners were founded in 1971 around an opposition to the Vietnam War. 

Just like me, they probably surmised through common sense and a gander at a book or two in the bible that Jesus was more into resurrection than executions. Even as a death penalty “sentencee” himself. He didn’t have that sort of Twin Towers, retribution-type rage. Vanessa reminded me that the Sojourners dug that when they shaped their mission to articulate the biblical call for people of varying faiths to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world. 

Vanessa also mentioned the Quakers. 

I’d be remissed if I didn’t include the Quakers in the bean-spilling of my spiritual resume. I went to a Quaker school in South Jersey from 3rd to 5th grade. Sat in meetings of worship in a hall that actually still had trick doors, secret passages and tunnels that were used to assist escaped slaves during the Underground Railroad, at a time when a large number of Protestant ministers and Catholic Priest preached salvation on Sunday and practiced slavery and segregation Monday through Saturday. 

The Quakers impressed me as a people of conviction who could not, in good faith, use misinterpretations of a book (“good” or bad) to justify war, slavery or heteronormativity. We are talking about a religious group with followers who founded Oxfam and Amnesty International here! Contrary to religious groups with followers that bomb abortion clinics and priests that touch little boys. 

Now maybe I am getting a little too “finger pointy” for all my well documented, Church-grown training at the top of this piece. But I distinctly remember my old classmate Kristen Smith Jones reminding me that Jesus really wasn’t the Senator writing type back in the day. He was more of a table-flipping, money lender scolding kind of guy. 

Perhaps these town hall peace disturbers believe that, in a way it makes them more like Christ. 

However, Jesus was always on the side of the people (read “Jews and Gentiles”) not the pharaohs and the banks (read “Big Pharma and Blue Dog Democrats”). Fortunately, there are folks on the right that see the light (no pun intended). And I am not just talking about religion, I’m talking about the big and small business cats with half a brain that know that single-payer IS what’s best for their bottom line. This includes any and all businesses whose revenue is not partially derived from the healthcare shell game, meaning all those that do not profit off of illness. 

Fortunately there are folks on the left, like Wendy Schultz (Assistant Producer and wife of Ed of The Ed Schultz Show) who commented: Hi Hakim, We agree with you and Ed will be talking about this today! The leaders of the Christian church have been silent on healthcare reform.....shame! Thanks so much for all your means more than we can say! Wendy...& Ed (Received on 8/13/09, so check out that archived show at

Fortunately there are some good, liberal Christian folk on the left who subscribe to such teachings as liberation theology. This doctrine emphasizes the Christian mission led by Jesus’ example to bring justice to the poor and oppressed by way of political activism, just like he did. 

Finally and fortunately, at least there are some good, insightful, level headed folks in the middle that can see the future of this wildly burning fire that is baptizing the healthcare debate. Mentor and mate, Gene Grant suggested that we are headed for a “correction” on who owns faith. Me, I pray for the best for every human being on this green earth whenever I raise a glass of fermented antioxidants and tannins (the red variety of course to combat heart disease) and speak the mantra “Salad” (Health). My preventative medicines of prayer and wine are not to be taken lightly in this debate where humanity and rationality both seem to be at a premium (Okay, no insurance pun intended, but it was cheeky nonetheless!) 

Even gesundheit means “good health”, God bless you and me. As a matter of fact, God likely would like US to bless all of those without the good fortune to have “survival of the rich” healthcare. 

Those zany liberation theologians consider sin the root source of poverty. However, the sin that they speak of is actually exploitative capitalism and class war by the rich against the poor. Yeah, so God bless US all and I’ll continue to pray for single-payer, universal healthcare. Neither because I am overly religious nor because I am a bleeding heart liberal. In fact, let me re-clarify my spiritual position so you get where I am coming from. I’m a liberal Christian or a “socia-spiritua-list” (Hey, I’m a trademark that.) 

Why, you ask? 

Because I am pro-choice and pro-capital punishment. 

As soon as we can find an unbiased system that doesn’t disproportionately put people of color on Death Row and never executes an innocent person.

Maybe wishful thinking but I already know I have a long way to go before I am a moral authority on anything. However, some people on the other side of this healthcare debate can relate to that “eye for an eye” part of my psyche. In that case, I respectfully submit to them and our officials in Washington that we just want what you’ve got, an “I” for an “I” (Cause you’ve got great “I”nsurance plans so we’ll have what you’re having.) 

So perhaps this appeal, that is aimed at the Christian/Evangelical right...yes, quite literally the proverbial “choir” that I am preaching to...will get a better reception than some of the emotionless, spiritually void messages have received to date. Because in a left leaning way I am like you. I am currently insured. I am a sucker for the Jesus story. I follow the same God he spoke of...for me (s)he just answers to a bunch of different names like Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, The Most High, Universe, Higher Self and “dude” interchangeably, but always answers...maybe in silence, but always in due time. 

That’s just what Jesus does. Now what would we do?


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