Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Defense of Religous Liberty Pits Us Against the Compassion of Christ

Many religious conservatives seek the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act for religious liberty reasons. Even some in Catholic leadership, in their defense of very real religious liberty issues, step beyond the fight for religious liberty to a call for total repeal of the Act. These positions contain a danger - the danger of pitting ourselves against the compassion of Christ.

When scriptures call us to follow the example of Christ, that example clearly includes taking compassionate personal and corporate  action, as well as vocally holding governments and hypocrites accountable for their failure to provide care for the sick, the poor, orphans, widows, prisoners and strangers and aliens in the land. The admonition of the Jewish apostles to the Gentile converts and their leaders also demonstrates God's will for all Christians in the area of healing the sick and caring for the poor. Such acts of care and such calls to accountability flow unbroken throughout the Old and New Testament. They are the expressed immutable will of God.

To their credit many Catholics are doing just that - caring for the sick and caring for the poor. In their seeking to maintain religious liberty they are not fighting to be free from providing for the sick and the poor but rather to be free from providing healthcare in ways that violate the sanctity of life and the sovereignty of God over human reproduction. Alternatives which provide care in place of these violations exist and already are actively available. Their fight against specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act, in those instances, do not pit them against the compassion of Christ.

For some Catholics - mainly a few in leadership - total repeal of the Affordable Care Act seems the simplest way to remove the provisions that impinge on religious liberty. Repeal most easily removes the threat of being forced to chose between obedience, or heavy fines, or exclusion from financial payments (the last two would escalate the cost of providing their current ministries to unreasonable heights), or discontinuing of their ministries of compassion - itself an untenable action in violation of the call of Christ on our lives. And yet this easy way out, repeal of the Act, would remove the many millions more, most of who currently fall beyond the scope of Catholic ministries, from receipt of the came mandated of those who govern by the divine order and enfleshed by Christ. This easy answer - total repeal, therefore, also pits its Catholic proponents against the compassion of Christ as well as the devine order despite the large amount of faithful service already provided by Catholic compassion ministries.

For most religious conservatives, this is also the case. Further, most have not, and do not, actively provide for health care of anyone in the United States. Most have not, and do not provide health care for the orphans and widows, the poor, the prisoners, and the strangers and aliens in our land. Their "religious liberty" calls for repeal pit them against those who Christ spent his life and the common purse to actively care for - to the glory of God and in proof that he was who he said he was, the Son of God. Most religious conservatives oppose the Affordable Care Act for economic reasons, if not purely political identity reasons. Given their failure to provide care - or even to propose ways they as Christians will do so if the government reneges on it God given mandates, given their putting money before the compassion, and given their seeking a political identity above identification with Christ, these individuals, churches, denominations, etc., pit them against the compassion of Christ, even put themselves into rebellion, active and passive, against the example and teachings of Christ and His Father.

May no Christian - conservative, liberal, Catholic, or other - continue to disgrace the name of Jesus, the God of our faith, by failure to support, provide for, or propose care for all individuals and by failure to work to overcome the circumstances that prevent receipt of health care, especially circumstances that drive ever more individuals into deep poverty.
Photo Credit - Affordable Care Act Protests at the Supreme Court All rights reserved by Brandon Kopp

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