IDEMA: Does the Republican Party have a heart?

Jul 18, 2012


Millions of people with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, can now attain health insurance. Kids can stay on their parents' policy until the age of 26, which is tremendously important for many families. Insurance companies can no longer cut off funds for treatment if costs skyrocket. Getting sick will no longer bankrupt families.

Such provisions are morally right, and should be proclaimed as such from every pulpit in America.

When the Supreme Court handed down its 5-4 decision upholding the constitutionality of the health care act, many Christians stood outside the court berating this decision. Why? Why wouldn't all Christians support a health care act that benefits so many, especially the poor and uninsured?

Jesus taught that we must care for the sick, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, etc. — "the least of these," as he puts is in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in Matthew 25. Thus, all Christians should support laws which seek to do just that. That so many Christians oppose the Affordable Health Care Act makes me wonder what they are hearing from their pulpits, and being taught in Bible study classes.

What is the Republican Party, and Mitt Romney in particular, offering as an alternative health care law for those people with pre-existing conditions? Nothing! Yes, Romney offers vague platitudes, but does anyone expect a Republican-controlled government to pass a health care act that protects the poor and sick? Where is the evidence that this party has the heart to do so?

Some people argue politics and religion don't mix, and have little to say to each other. The naiveté of such a view is particularly clear when it comes to health care. We are not simply individuals left to fend for ourselves, but a community, a nation, where we care for each other — especially those who are poor and sick.

It is the church's responsibility to proclaim, and work for, medical care for all people — especially those who do not have insurance.

I think the trap organized religion has fallen into is paying too much attention to the rich people in our congregations and their politics. After all, wealthy people are often very generous in their giving to the church. So clergy are understandably afraid to alienate the rich in their midst — and many of those rich people, with "Cadillac" health care plans, simply cannot walk in the shoes of the poor, who too often have no health insurance.

Mitt Romney has many fine qualities, but empathy with the poor is not one of them. Clergy must have the courage to preach what is morally right — in this case, universal health care — and let the financial chips fall where they may in the Sunday collection plates.

Many clergy view the weekly collection as instant Nielsen ratings on the sermon. Playing it safe in sermons probably does not rock the boat. Showing some guts might, but then challenging those who are blessed with money and power at least puts the preacher in good company with somebody who did just that — Jesus of Nazareth!

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune community columnist



What an overgeneralization by someone who poses as a scholar!
Romney has no feelings for the poor, but Kennedy did - right? Well, I guess he could afford to, given his father's bootlegging money.
Having money does not preclude compassion, and opposing Obama's healthcare tax does not mean one has no heart.
Obama is a socialist, pure and simple. I am not going to stand around and let him ruin our country, and if ministers decide to use their "bully pulpits" for indoctrination, congregants should have no qualms about rejecting that indoctrination and voicing their own reasoned opinions.
Voters, reject ridiculous, emotional pleas such as Rev. Idema's, and get rid of Obama before we lose our capitalist roots!


ghcatholic disputes that Obama is a socialist. I say Obama is a socialist because: of his belief that it is appropriate for government to own or control areas of the private sector, such as banking, automobiles (Chrysler and GM), non-health insurance (AIG), mortgages, just recently reporting agencies; he has appointed non-elected Czars not subject to Senate approval to oversee virtually every aspect of our lives; of his prior membership in the New Party; and because of his stated objective to spread private wealth around through “redistributive” policies. Health care was just the topic du jour. Using the fact that one conservative think tank once supported a mandate for heads of households to purchase private catastrophic insurance paid for by tax breaks (which I opposed) does not make Obama any less of a socialist. No gymnastics here – simply reviewing the available evidence.


b/c Romney will abolish ACA means he does not have a heart? at least he has a brain.! Religion has no place in politics, period. And this is coming from a Rev.


The Reverend should be ashamed of himself. He claims to be compassionate but calls people who disagree with his political views heartless? Maybe next time he wants to talk about having a heart he will think before he calls people names. There are thousands of reasons to be against this terrible law, but if Rev Idema actually believes people are against it because they don't have a heart then the good reverend is really out of touch with reality (many would argue that the truly compassionate thing to do is get rid of this law)

Reverend Idema can disagree with me all he wants on politics, and I love talking politics but I am offended that he has to call me names? Claiming I am un-Christian because I disagree with his political view is uncalled for. He has no right to say such nasty things about me or Romney or anyone else just because they have a different opinion on politics (and yes, saying someone has no heart is nasty). He can say we are wrong, he can say he disagrees with us, but to call us heartless is not cool.

I am sure the good reverend is a fine man, but he should think before calling people names in the paper. Words mean things, they should be used carefully.

Speaking of words meaning things, on a side note: It is impossible to insure against a pre-existing conditions. Insurance is something you buy to protect you from a possible loss. You can not buy house insurance after your house catches fire, or car insurance after you crash. If you have a pre-existing condition and you get some insurance company or someone else to pay for it you are getting charity, which is fine with me, but you cannot call it insurance. Words have meanings.


What a biased and judgmental article. This is quite distasteful and one of those "go nowhere" writings that is meant to target a specific group as apposed to getting to the root of the issues.
Many requirements of ObamaCare are invasive and unconstitutional...especially with the forcing of Catholics to provide birth control against their conscience and, as well as, the funding of abortions. ObamaCare is socialized medicine. We are not a socialist nation, although he's certainly doing his best to push us in that direction. It's not even a "take from the rich, give to the poor" mentality. It's a "take from those willing to work and give to those who aren't willing to work" mentality. No way this approach will provide a healthy economy and give fruits of a productive society. Republicans, Democrats, Left, Right, is irrelevant. It all comes down to the outlook for the future of America. Obama's agenda is not for the better of our nation. It is destructive and divisive. Just because Romney apposes ObamaCare doesn't make him heartless. Give me a break. He's "thinking" instead of being lead like sheep to the slaughter.


Socialized medicine opinionscount? Faux news repost. again & again. WHO is giving anyone healthcare coverage? No one, you have to buy it. The insurance companies can no longer use pre-existing conditions for charging you outrageous premiums, I hope you and all your relatives are & remain healthy. If Muff is elected and repeals The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), you will pay for those uninsured anyway I guarantee it. The comments on this board show the untrue rhetoric by the right.

Here is fodder for you...why does the Tribune not report this crap on Republicans?


Debunking Obamacare myths.


actually I just read the Trib story about house speaker Bolger (R) & Rep. Schmidt (R). It was a sweet, watered down version about some good ole boys just being good old boys. So for the real poop on it, I suggest reading the MLive link for an unbiased report. Why would election fraud and stealing peoples money not require a reprimand? Because R's don't see anything wrong with it...yes Rev, they have NO HEART!

Tri-cities realist

I just read the mlive story, if not illegal, very scummy, I hope they are both thrown out of office, at the very least. See we CAN agree on some things. This behavior should not be tolerated by either party. And the fact that these morons did this via text message, they are too stupid to warrant getting a salary from the residents of Michigan. I am in no way condoning their behavior, rather just pointing out their stupidity.


and I would agree, even if they were from another party. They should be tarred and feathered and run out of Lansing.

Tri-cities realist state "WHO is giving anyone healthcare coverage? No one, you have to buy it." So please help me understand how this legislation helps those who can't afford health insurance? If they can't afford it, now they will be penalized (taxed) for "choosing" not to have insurance, now THAT shows some real "heart". If the real goal of the PPACA were to get health insurance to those who can't afford it, why not revise medicaid? Or is our government admitting that Medicaid has not delivered as intended? My main issue (other than its lack of constitutional merit... But we don't need to go there again) is that we are fundamentally changing private health care insurance for the benefit of the relatively few that are uninsured. And before you tell me that if I like my private insurance, I can keep it... what if my employer decides it is cheaper for them to pay a "fine" (tax) and discontinue providing health insurance? Will I (and all others who may have this happen to them) be better off because of this legislation? I think not. It is purely a financial decision for the insurance companies. If they are required to insure everyone (and I totally agree with SurfCruise's point, you can't "insure" against a pre-existing condition), their costs will increase. So what will they do with those increased costs? Yep, pass them along in the form of higher costs to their insured. And thus some businesses will choose not to offer health insurance (and most businesses pay the VAST majority of premiums on behalf of their employees). Wow what a brilliant plan. Once this happens, the geniuses in govt will then "decide" that they need to fix this and move to single payer, total socialist medicine, along with its wonderful benefits of long waits to see a doctor, rationed care, etc. I suppose the alternative would be to ban all private health insurance companies from making a profit, at least that approach would be more intellectually honest. And yes that would mean they would go out of business (and you better hope your 401(k) or other investments don't include any of these companies). Then the govt could have a monopoly on health insurance and fix the whole mess... Oh wait see above regarding Medicaid. And I believe this right winger has successfully posted without calling anyone hear names. Boy do I love freedom of speech and our constitution.


yup, Faux News repostings. please see the link I posted down below debunking the Obamacare myths. I think you missed that as most of the myths you wrote here are actually covered. You scare me to death with your crap (and that's probably not covered under Obamacare)! But that is the way of the right....oooh Gloom & Doom!

Tri-cities realist

I read the Keller article, although I didn't see myths 1-5? Not once did I mention unions or death panels (myths 6 and 7), nor that it is a "federal takeover". In fact I pointed out (as did Keller) that the private insurers would have more people to insure. My issue is that with the mandate to cover all of these new people, the insurers costs will likely skyrocket. How will the insurers cover these costs? (I won't repeat myself, you can re-read what I wrote). The other issue Keller mentions is about businesses not wanting to expand beyond 50 employees. I understand his logic. However, if a business (say with 100 or 1000 employees) only has to pay a $2000 fine per employee to discontinue providing health insurance, what prevents them from doing so? You do realize that the cost per employee that a business pays for employee health insurance is MUCH greater than $2000, don't you? So now this legislation has incentivized businesses NOT to provide health insurance.... Brilliant. So unless I am missing something, I did not see one of my so-called myths debunked by Keller. Please let me know which of my statements you were referring to. And please do us all a favor, and save the faux news comments. Most of us are trying to engage in a civil, rational conversation. If you can show me that some of my statements are factually wrong, I welcome it, I'm not above admitting that I made a mistake, if in fact I have. I look forward to your detailed reply. Take care.


well, I see the insurance companies are doing OK right now (just don't throw in one of those awful natural disasters). But lets see if my math is right here...a small business with only 100 employees would be fined $200,000 (NOT chump change), and a business with 1000 workers would be fined $2,000,000. If that didn't break them, their workers would probably be sick more and miss work more, so the company would probably go to temp workers and not have any full-timers anymore. Just like the trickle-down effect has done for us here in Michigan before. So I see it as you won't have a full time job anymore anyway if republicans get their way. And you will have to buy your insurance, pay the mortgage, buy groceries, gas, and pay your utilities on an $8/hr temp job. Just speculation, like your comments. I think we see how it plays out- no one 'knows' how it will go, and it should be tweaked when needed. Same as the Constitution has been.

Tri-cities realist

You state "So I see it as you won't have a full time job anymore anyway if republicans get their way." I'm confused how the republicans can be blamed when it was the democrats who created this law! Your math is correct, but for a company with 100 employees, I submit that they are probably already paying at least $5000 per year per employee for their health insurance. So by opting out, they could save at least $300,000 per year, not chump change either. So please tell me how you can blame the republicans for the law that created this disincentive to provide health insurance? At over 2000 pages, why should this legislation need tweaking? That is my point, repeal it, start over, and get it right the first time. As for "tweaking" the constitution, the proper, and only "constitutional" method for changing it is through the amendment process, but I'm sure you already knew that. I'm guessing since you didn't point out any of my "myths", that you are admitting my statements were not based on myths or lies, apology accepted.


I am saying you speculate, same as I did here. You personally really have NO idea how this will play out. No one does. So, repeal the thing, wipe it out, get rid of insurance for millions, and start over. A wishful view at best. I agree with the Rev, do you really think a Republican majority would EVER pass health legislation for people without insurance? Past records of Republican majorities reveal they would not even think about considering it! You believe the business owner holds all the cards, but it is hard to run a business with disgruntled workers. Republicans have busted unions for years, so the workers have no recourse but to shut up and work, right? And for $8/hr. parttime with no benefits. Yes, I do know how they tweak the Constitution. No apology intended, they are myths until proven facts, so rejected on that point.

Tri-cities realist

Very well stated, now we are moving beyond name calling, and having a rational discussion. Yes, we are both speculating based upon our understanding of the legislation. I know you have a good sense of humor (JB Sims is a "cloud factory", I actually lol'd), and thankfully a rational mind as well. And yes, I may pose the worst possible outcome of this legislation, while you posit the best. Actuality may be somewhere in the middle, but that is exactly what i love most about our country... We can have a thoughtful debate without fear of being silenced, either of us. Regarding whether "a Republican majority would EVER pass health legislation for people without insurance", I will admit I was shocked to hear that the Heritage Foundation (i believe that is what someone claimed, not necessarily you) actually offered single payer as an alternative to a Clinton proposal. I'm skeptical, but will check it out. If anyone has a link showing this, please share. And I don't believe "the business owner holds all the cards", I just don't understand why anyone (govt included) would want to punish those who are successful in creating and growing a business, since this is how jobs are created. I agree with you that it would be "hard to run a business with disgruntled workers", thus most employers will continue to do their best to offer (and pay the vast majority of premiums) for health insurance. I just question the intent of legislation that actually incentivizes businesses to discontinue offering (and paying the majority of premiums) health insurance. Doesn't this seems a bit odd for legislation entitled the "patient protection and affordable care act"?

And no, I believe workers have another recourse, other than to "shut up and work". They can perform to the best of their abilities, take advantage of every opportunity that is presented to them(e.g. think glass half full, not half empty), and with diligence, embrace more responsibility, and likely get promoted, earning themselves a larger salary, in escense, living what I consider the "American dream" (which by the way I never liked this term "dream" since it connotes unattainability). This is exactly what my mother did, start in an entry level job, be diligent, work smartly and hard as hell while doing her best to raise her children, and over a 30 year period work her way up to being a leader (and VP) of a several billion dollar company. So perhaps I am a bit jaded into thinking that anyone can achieve whatever they want, since my mother showed me how it is done, and done the "right" way. I'm convinced that those who dealt with her throughout her career, from the temp worker to the CEO, that while some may have disagreed at the time with the difficult decisions she had to make, there are very few, if any, who would say that my mother treated them "unfairly". I can say this since most people I have encountered that worked with my mother, had nothing but glowing things to say about her. The few that have disagreed with her, ALL of them have admitted that while they may have disagreed with her at times, they ALL asked whether i realized how lucky i was to have a mother with such character, and honesty. Obviously I am eternally grateful to her for showing me the right path, if I can achieve half (and no not just monetarily, there were so many that were so thankful she simply gave them an opportunity) of what she did with half the integrity with which she did it, I will die a happy man, and I'm still striving to attain it.

So with that as my reference frame, when people tell me why they can't do this or that, I respond with, why not. I've seen it done, by those who didn't have any advantage, but through hard work and diligence, they persevered, and staked their small piece of the "American reality". This is why I have little patience for the whiners and those looking for a free ride (and I doubt you are one of them).

And I propose that what we both are saying are theories, until proven incorrect, but perhaps it is my educational training, that likens " myths" to mean lies, or intentional misrepresentations. Instead of "they are myths until proven facts", I would say they are theories or opinions until proven to be lies, but that is the nature of the scientific method, nothing can actually be "proven" to be fact, rather it can be accepted until proven to be false, i.e. the null hypothesis We all accept that gravity is real, but until it can be proven to be false, it is not a "fact". And no I am not a "flat-earther", rather I try to apply the scientific method to that which I encounter.... Oops I shouldn't try to do that with politics or the human condition... My bad.


Thank you, Rev. Idema for your thoughtful editorial. I have waited so long to hear a Christian leader speak to this issue, in regard to how important it as Christians and as a "community nation" to take a stand for a fair and compassionate health care system. Many (millions, in fact) have waited, prayed and hoped against hope for changes to our current system. There are many with pre-existing conditions, such as childhood cancer (many are now surviving, Praise God) that simply cannot "shop around" for an affordable rate once their current rates get jacked up -over and over again by our current for profit insurance companies. Yes, we have heard no solutions being offered by anyone opposing the Affordable Care Act, and it is maddening. Health insurance as it stands now is becoming more and more unattainable, as the rates have skyrocketed over the last ten years, and less and less companies seem to be offering this life-changing benefit. It is not only the nation's "poor" left out of the current system, but also the middle class and many of our new college grads, people who have tried to "have all their ducks in a row" We need many more people of the cloth to have the courage of Reverand Idema. In re-reading his editorial, you will see he does not call anyone "heartless", he simply presents the evidence and asks a very legitimate question.

Tri-cities realist

Ok so perhaps Rev Idema doesn't call Republicans heartless in so many words, but when he asks if the party has a heart, what does he mean? What is the GOP? Yes it is a group of individual Republicans. So when you question whether the party has a heart, you are inferring the same of its members (he didn't only mention specific Republicans, except for Romney). I can see we need to teach logic in our schools. As for your last sentence, actually Henry first poses the question and then presents little evidence. And by the way, I agree our health care system needed change, I just disagree with how this legislation tries to accomplish it. As for nobody offering any other solutions, see my post above. If we were taxed less, those who can't afford insurance would have more money to afford it, and the rest of us would have more money to help those who still couldn't afford it... Now there is a novel Christian approach, helping our fellow men, women, and children, without the interference of govt. But that is the ultimate goal of the statists, increase dependency on the govt... I'll pass thank you.


right on....opinionscount


If ObamaCare were only providing all citizens with fair healthcare, who in their right mind would question it? It is an enormous document with well over 1000 pages, many of which contain wordage that invades on the privacy and rights of the American people in regards to their religious beliefs and personal privacy, and penalizes those who have obtained certain income levels and/or business owners. I'm extremely thankful for those leaders that aren't willing to give in to every idea of government that is forced upon us. This is big government...and it's un-American. While ObamaCare may benefit some, there are many who are invaded upon who don't fall into the group of poor, low-income, or simply those without health insurance. This reform should be for the betterment of ALL citizens. Those who are financially okay, or even those who are very wealthy, should not be penalized just because they aren't necessarily hurting financially. Yes, everyone should be able to have affordable healthcare coverage. But, ObamaCare is not the answer. The Robinhood mentality is a fairytale. It doesn't work. There are many "people of the cloth" who are looking at this reform thoroughly and see clearly the invasiveness it will bring upon the American people in regards to their religious beliefs and personal privacy. "The first amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values; it was written to protect those values from government tyranny." - Ronald Reagan

Tri-cities realist

I can see we need to increase the amount of economic education in this country. With all of these "newly insured" people, costs will increase for everyone. I'm sorry but there is no free health insurance. The money has to come from somewhere, higher insurance premiums for all, higher taxes, increased national debt ( which costs ALL Americans in the form of inflation). I agree with Henry, we should "care for the sick, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, etc". I just disagree with how we should accomplish this. I don't recall Jesus teaching that the govt should provide health insurance for all. Rather, if the govt would get out of our way by taxing us less, we would be able to help those less fortunate than us, and I'm guessing more effectively by avoiding govt bureaucracy and it's associated costs. Oh and what ever happened to the so called "separation of church and state"? Haven't heard much of that recently... Hmmm Heck if they would have just proposed increased taxes to cover the uninsured through Medicaid, I could have at least respected their honesty.


A better question is what would Jesus force us to do. The answer is nothing. The pure love of Christ is something that we give freely of our own choice. Free Agency is a precious gift from God. Christians have been taught for thousands of years to comfort the sick and afflicted but he never instructed his Apostles to go out and force others to do as he has commanded. What Obamacare has done IS force others to do the "right thing". That is not what Christianity is all about. When we are forced to do anything, even if it is a good thing, we take away God's blessing and personal rewards for blessing the lives of others which would otherwise be a charitable act motivated by our compassion for others. That is what Christianity (including Mormonism) is all about.

Tri-cities realist

Well said, I totally agree with Hagueie.


I believe Christ said to pay Ceasar what is Ceasar's. As any tax is mandatory (forced), it must not be Christian by your reasoning? Why are we the LAST of the 'civilized' nations to provide healthcare for all our people? What is it that makes 'US' so great now anyway? Do you think people in Europe or Canada are clamoring to come to the US to live anymore? I think not.

Tri-cities realist

We are the last to provide govt mandated health care, because we have the most freedom, freedom from govt intrusion, or at least we did. And while canadians and some in Europe may not be clamoring to come here, many from socialist and communists countries are. And what about Mexicans, you forgot to mention them, why are they so eager to come here? I trust you can answer that one for yourself.


no, you tell me please. I'll guess you think it must be for Obamacare, right? I didn't mention Mexico, because they are not a civilized country by any definition. Of course they want to come here for a better life, just like all the Central & South Americans who come here to escape their squalor. Communists, maybe, but people from what socialist countries are clamoring to get here? It certainly isn't for the healthcare. You can fly off to the best hospital in the world in Thailand for a surgical procedure, stay in a 5 star hotel to recover, and fly back, all for less than it costs for the same procedure here in the USA. Our country is run by holy Greed, the almighty. And the insurance companies are the worst, writing the laws for themselves. And now that they missed out on having any say on this law, of course it is all bad for the insurance companies and those of us with insurance. Remember how 'bad' no-fault insurance was going to be?


I question the position espoused by Reverend Henry Idema, pastoral assistant at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland, with trepidation. The great religious leaders of America in the 21st century that echo the Pastor's views are well known - the Reverend Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Father Michael Pfleger, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

I understand that the good Reverends' churches pay no taxes as long as partisan political views are not espoused rom the pulpit, but it seems to me that the government's scrutiny of religious sermons is about as vigorous as its scrutiny of illegals in the country.

I'm willing to believe that these politically passionate clergy are able to leave their political passions at the door of their church, but like Ronald Reagan's response to the Soviet Union's claims about nuclear disarmament, I believe in "Trust But Verify." Perhaps taxpaying parishioners of these churches could verify that politics is verbotten on Sundays.

There was, and is, a reason to insulate churches from taxation, given that freedom of religion used to be one of the most paramount of our rights. Now that President Obama, the democrat Congress, and Catherine Sebelious have decimated that freedom with their mandates on requiring religious institutions to bend to the will of federal bureaucrats regarding religious beliefs, maybe the IRS should look to whether churches permitting political proselytizing should be taxed by the same bureaucrats. Maybe Reverend Henry Idema, would support the Grace Episcopal Church paying the same taxes as the rest of us to achieve the holy grail of Obamacare and its contraceptive mandates.



What is the answer? with the outrages cost of healtcare,Insurance ect,something has to be done or the whole system will be broke,Obama took a stand and did somthing..isn't that his job. To do nothing would be very wrong. And what is our obligation as a socity,a christion socity to fellow man and what is the moral thing to do,God gave us a set of instructions in the Bible of how to treat eachother..eachother is all we have. so forget about Republican or Demorcrat Crap all they do is fight eachother for power and money.


Interesting take on morality. I guess only taxpayers have to follow the rules of morality. As noted by James Taranto, Obama apparently has a similar view of morality vis a vis "freeloaders" -

Obama (on the Obamacare tax):
" "It's less a tax or a penalty than it is a principle--which is you can't be a freeloader on other folks when it comes to your health care, if you can afford it," he said."

James Taranto (Wall Street Journal)
"What's objectionable about Obama's comment, however, is not "tax" or "penalty" or even "principle." It's the way he uses the word "freeloader."

Normally we think of a freeloader as somebody who sponges off others, which in the context of public policy means the government. A freeloader is an able-bodied welfare recipient, or someone who fakes a disability to collect Supplemental Security income, or who waits until his unemployment runs out before looking for a job"

Now, think about how the ObamaCare mandate tax is structured. As Roberts noted in his opinion for the court in NFIB v. Sebelius, "It does not apply to individuals who do not pay federal income taxes because their household income is less than the filing threshold in the Internal Revenue Code. For taxpayers who do owe the payment, its amount is determined by such familiar factors as taxable income, number of dependents, and joint filing status."

The only people who pay the ObamaCare mandate tax are people who make a living. Actual freeloaders are exempt. What Obama calls a freeloader is someone who makes his own money and pays his taxes but does not spend his money in the government-approved way.

What about criminals, who now enjoy free health care anyway? Where is the morality of making taxpayers/seniors compete with them for a doctor?

Spare me this faux morality argument - if socialized medicine makes you feel good and you believe in it, why not just say so?



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