Saturday, July 25, 2009

How the healthcare debate is changing the face of religion in the US

"Jesus was a community organizer" proclaimed the bumper sticker on the beat-up Volkswagen in front of me, right next to another informing me that "This car is powered by vegetable oil". This got me thinking: "He sure was". If we are to believe the story of Jesus, his approach to change was grass-roots bottom-up subversive. In fact, he was the original social networker -- by building a small group of committed and credible individuals around him he amplified his teachings through their mouths, thus reaching thousands of people. His discourse often included a lively debate with room for disagreement and not much dogma. In fact, Jesus would have been for universal healthcare!

And I am no longer one of the few realizing this: today's Washington Post has confirmed my suspicions. The story is about multi-denominational religious coalitions organizing to support healthcare reform. Once a hot potato in the faith community, healthcare in the US is in such disrepair that not to speak out on behalf of change would be hypocritical. And so, thousands of faithful have been meeting with their Members of Congress and holding rallies in support of healthcare reform. This effort bears the community organizing signature of President Obama via his faithful, charismatic and brilliant disciple Joshua DuBois, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Josh has brought together this strong, vocal and diverse coalition to stand up for the indisputable value of inclusion.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, and, of course, conservative Christian groups accuse them of using "the common language of faith to disguise unpopular ideas". Hmm, so providing all people access to quality healthcare is not a popular religious platform? Next they will tell us that they support capital punishment. Oh, wait, they do... This reactionary stance smacks an awful lot of the pre-Obama era White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, created by Bush to divide and conquer rather than to unite and assist. I am glad to know that these anachronistic voices are just remnants of our eight years of infamy, drifting inexorably into our historical past. Let's hope that the rest of us can continue to move forward as a nation united behind the humanistic idea of universal coverage.

And this brings me back to the bumper sticker. While sitting in traffic and staring at it, another thought occurred to me: "Well he sure wasn't a cowboy." He sure wasn't (no offense to any cowboys with the good sense to be reading this post, of course).

No comments:

Post a Comment