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



So much of these discussion/arguments has come down to two letters, D and R. I for one am so sick of the two party system of BS that I could spit. I am a Christian man, that attends church on Sunday and am strong in my convictions. People would instantly state ... that's the makings of a republican right there...conservative viewpoints. On the other hand, M-F I am in a classroom teaching special education...oooooh people would instantly say,....that's a teacher and we all know teachers follow democrats. The problem with all of this is that we have become way too close minded of a society to see any sort of other side. Our government today is completely and totally based on what party won, not what is best for our citizens, not working together to come to a common end. I was reading an article regarding teacher pensions this week and a representative said "I voted for the house option just because I wanted to get something passed." This guy could care less what he is voting for as long as "something is passed." In this case it was a repub, but dems do the same stinking thing. Enough of this bantering back and forth. Rev. Idema makes some great points that are respectable and I applaud his statements. I think we need to stop looking at what is best just for US and look at what is best for EVERYONE . The ACA is a step forward in this country and a good one. Most of the examples of "socialism" and "the halt of business" is hogwash. If someone is that dumb to stop growing their business because of this then their business probably wouldn't have grown much more anyway. Also as I have stated in previous posts, Joe Six Pack is not going to go to the ER for a sliver just because he now has insurance. My wife just yelled at me the other night because I haven't gone to the dentist in over a year when we have dental insurance. You cannot tell me that the whole country is going to up and flood the doctor's office because they have magic insurance. Repubs need to relax and trust that good things can happen even if it's passed by a dem. As a teacher I have had to relax about some of the repub changes in education in this state and even applaud some of the tenure reforms. Of course once you have a side, you tend to view things through that lens and won't agree with everything done by a political party. I know too that you can make arguments about freeloaders and greedy will get people that take advantage of the system no matter what. I have seen my share of people buying Mt. Dew and Monster with their Bridge Card while I am paying cash for my food and budgeting my money. I also have seen business owners right in West Michigan that scam their employees to make an extra buck. Anyone can find an example to support the point they are trying to make for their side if they dig deep enough. My whole point is to just open your eyes a little wider on whatever side you are on and see that some of these issues are not always the most horrid thing in the world and it could be much worse.

Tri-cities realist

Perhaps, but as HeyJude so honestly admitted, the ACA is just the first step towards single payer, and true socialized medicine. If the govt can mandate we buy insurance (and the comparison to auto insurance is hogwash, since one can choose not to drive and avoid paying auto insurance), what will stop them from gradually moving more and more people to the "govt option"? And while the ACA utilizes private insurance now, it is just the first step. Call me pessimistic when it comes to the effectiveness of our ferderal govt, since social security is such a financially solvent program, and the "war" on poverty has been so effective... Yeah right. Recall the definition of insanity, repeatedly doing the same thing (rely on govt to "fix" problems), and expecting a different outcome. Will we EVER learn?


The idea of true socialized medicine is in my eyes too far off. Truly socialized medicine would kill insurance companies as we know it and that would be political suicide. Health insurance companies are comparable to big banks. It is an industry that cannot fail (yes I am calling the banks an industry). I completely agree with you regarding the current structure of many government entities. They all have the ability to be effective with the correct and efficient mandates on each. This leads me back to my two party argument and the idea that it is about party lines, not the best interest of the country. If the government focused on maintaining the solvency of social security instead of giving more tax breaks to GE (so that they receive a tax refund) or bailing out Fannie and Freddie, the program would be effective. However party support, whether D or R comes from your businesses, banks, etc. Truthfully many people don't have a clue about either candidate because they are too stinkin ignorant to find out the truth about either person. Until this changes, we will continue to repeat ourselves by having a democratic president, then repub, then dem, then repub. Hence insanity. A truly competent president (and I'm speaking generally, not about Obama specifically) would spend less time focusing on the $$ and more on the well being of the country. I still believe that the ACA is a step in the right direction, but our country needs much more help than just affordable health care. Our country needs a reality check. Republicans need to ease up on the greed and Democrats need to ease up on the hand outs. We have become a divided society because we have stopped thinking about the common good and instead become selfish jerks. It's easier to keep all of our money or take the handout welfare check. We spend more time bashing the left or the right than we do examining the issue at hand and having discussions. The ACA is not perfect but it's not stupid and garbage either. I hope truly in my lifetime that this country can come to it's stinkin senses and stop being a bunch of jackbags and actually get along. I'm definitely not promoting the "everyone gets a ribbon" philosophy as you reap what you sow, but rather a respect for all...both the have and have nots. To answer your last question (whether rhetorical or not) I hope so. I don't think you and I are too far off realist. The main point I'm trying to convey is that our government needs to get their heads out of the butt and work together instead of against each other. That's when true success will begin to take shape.

Tri-cities realist

@ohreally, thanks for your thoughtful reply. While you may see socialized medicine as " too far off", I believe that is the goal of some in our govt. And while neither is perfect, given the choice, I put my faith in the private sector, rather than govt. I agree the insurance companies have a vested interest in preventing their demise. However, I can also foresee a system that gives the govt more control while still letting the insurance companies survive and make a profit, a so-called win-win for govt and the insurance companies. But a definite lose-lose for liberty and the consumer citizen. The real problem is not revenue, our govt has a spending problem, and until that is brought under control, we will continue to live in a temperamental economy. And I agree, the bailouts should stop, as well as the tax breaks.


I totally agree with you, together is the word, not against each other. Berta Satchels


No heart, no soul and no brains

Tri-cities realist

You must be writing about yourself...


Hey REV!!! Here's a better question; do the democrats have a BRAIN!?!?!! Today's democratic party is proof positive that common sense is not at all common amongst your party's ranks!!! "We have to pass the bill before we find out what in the bill." Wow how brilliant that is! Were still finding out the garbage that was stuffed into this bill and you know what garbage breeds; MAGGOTS!!!


Rev Idema,

First let me state that I am not a member of either national party. I am a libertarian and share some views with both parties. That being said, I take issue with your stance.

Does exploiting the poor by keeping them trapped in the neighborhoods they reside, for a pittance of a welfare check in trade for a guaranteed vote considered having a heart and what Jesus wanted us to do? Is setting up the rules wherein they are penalized, financially, for being married or claiming a father of their child what Jesus wanted us to do with the poor?

Did Jesus stand for abortion on demand, the legal recognition of homosexual unions, the abolition of traditional standards about modesty, the abolition of traditional values about sexual morality, the abolition of almost any civil law and/or social norm related to morality? Being a libertarian, I really could care less about these issues, and would like to see those laws and rules handled locally, as atheists and agnostics have as much a right to this land as I do - but to claim that one party is against Jesus's teachings and to imply that the other party embodies Christ due to it's (exploiting) Covenant of Works is insane.

Jesus asked us to give to the poor - not to rob others legislatively to give to the poor. The Democratic party's strongholds have created a lazy and dependent class. I do not blame the poor people, I blame the politician who created these laws and entrapped the dependents and molded this class of autonomous voters. The Bible DID warn us of this:

Proverbs 10:4
Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.
2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.
Proverbs 6:6-8
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
1 Timothy 5:8
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Proverbs 6:9-11
How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest-and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
Proverbs 10:26
As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him.
1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Proverbs 12:24
Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.
Hebrews 6:11-12
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Proverbs 12:27
The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes his possessions.
Proverbs 13:4
The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
Matthew 25:25-27
So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' "His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
Proverbs 15:19
The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.
Proverbs 19:15
Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless man goes hungry.
2 Thessalonians 3:6
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.
Proverbs 20:4
A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.
Proverbs 21:25
The sluggard's craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
Ecclesiastes 10:18
If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks.
Ephesians 4:28
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Nowhere did it say that we should just give these poor people a bite of fish in trade for a vote.
Your covenant of works was replaced with a covenant of grace long ago. Neither party is more holy than the other. Both are comprised of men and men and good and sinners - at the same time - and, like the Pharisees, not all were bad, but the faith in the institution of man is our failing.

God Bless You and I hope you see the error of your ways.


idema you abuse your pastoral position to play politics. Why not go find some poor people and help them. Stop inflicting yourself on people. If you are just staying around for me feel free to go care for your sheep. What offends me most is you lie about who God is.



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