This past weekend the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive health care bill that extends health insurance to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and begins reigning in an industry that kills tens of thousands of Americans each year: private (free market) health insurance corporations. Whether through health care rationing (by denying health care insurance to tens of millions of poor and middle class families who are deemed to sick for health insurance or are unable to pay the exorbitant premiums demanded by insurance corporations) or death panels (administrators who decide whether or not to honor claims filed by health insurance customers), the free market health insurance industry prefers to let Americans die rather than selling affordable policies and honoring life-saving policy claims from their own customers in order to insure that industry CEOs collectively pocket billions of dollars.
The bill passed by the House, however, has not yet become law. The coming weeks and months will determine the fate of health care in America. To be certain, the final version of the health care bill will almost certainly not be enough to significantly reign in runaway health care costs anytime soon. Rather, it will likely be just the first step of many required to truly transition the American political establishment from viewing basic health care as a privilege for those who have enough money or the right kind of job or are appropriately healthy, rather than as an inherent human right.
Thus we now face a critical point in the history of America: are we as a nation going to continue to allow health insurance companies to kill more Americans in order to create yet more billions of dollars in blood-money profits for corporate CEOs, or do we as a nation have enough moral courage and ethical backbone to stop the greed-driven deaths of innocent Americans? Bizarrely enough, many religious persons who have long claimed to be "pro-life" want the killing to continue: they are championing the current free market health care industry with a zeal of biblical proportions.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a pro-life Baptist and otherwise seemingly-reasonable guy, said of the prospect of eventual enactment of the House's health care reform: “I hope and pray it doesn’t [pass], because it would be a disaster for the economy and health care.”
God forbid that America should choose life for her poor and middle class citizens over exorbitant profits for a handful of health insurance industry CEOs!
Graham's anti-health care reform, pro-profits-over-human-life position is the party line of all Republicans in the House save one (more on the lone dissenter later).
Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the Republican leader of the House and supposedly a pro-lifer, insists that the House's health care reform is the “greatest threat to freedom that I have seen in the 19 years I’ve been in Washington.”
For Boehner to equate the saving of American lives as the "greatest threat to freedom" in America exemplifies the type of desperate, ludicrous lies that extremist free market apologists are now resorting to in defense of America's wealthy elite.
At the same time, some so-called Christian ethicists such as Southern Baptist's Richard Land are providing alleged theological cover for free market health care rationing and death panels. According to Land (yet another self-proclaimed pro-lifer), God has no problem with health care rationing and death panels within a free market, capitalist health care system, while the possibility of health care rationing underneath a government system is nothing more than Nazism.
So-called pro-lifers who staunchly defend a free market constructed upon the deaths of innocent American citizens, however, would do well to listen to Representative Anh Cao of Louisiana, seemingly the lone Republican in the House who realizes that human life truly is more important than corporate profits. A self-proclaimed pro-life Catholic, he supported the health care reform bill for the very reason that many of his constituents are poor and uninsured, and thus face the prospect of untimely death in America's current free market health care system. Cao, in short, remained true to his proclaimed pro-life convictions.
So why are so many self-proclaimed pro-lifers (and Christians!) praying and advocating for the continuation of a health care system that kills tens of thousands of Americans annually?
Jesus declared that one cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13), while the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 6:10) asserted that money is the root of all evil.
It would seem, scripturally speaking, that the pro-life demonizers of government health care / ceaseless defenders of free market capitalism have (knowingly or not) chosen to worship wealth over God, and, at least in some instances, opted for evil over good (expressed in willing the death of innocent people in order to preserve corporate profits).
Indeed, the future of Christianity in America may be shaped immensely by the ongoing battle between allegiance to Christ and allegiance to capitalism. Although Christ and capitalism can certainly co-exist together if the latter is kept in a proper context, the growing American evangelical propensity to force Christianity into a free market straitjacket must be resisted by followers of Christ, for the sake of everyone.