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