In Matthew 10:8, Jesus enjoins his disciples to “heal the sick.” Whether or not this can be considered a mandate for health care reform as it is being pursued in the U.S. today, it is telling that, according to Public Religion Research’s recent survey of religious activists, 67 percent of progressive religious activists believe that such reform is “most important,” while only 10 percent of conservative religious activists do. And 78 percent of the progressives think that the U.S. “should have comprehensive national health insurance event if it resulted in fewer choices for patients,” while only six percent of the conservatives do.
For the conservatives, all other issues are overwhelmed by abortion and same-sex marriage, about which Jesus had, well, nothing at all to say. My point, however, is not who’s got the Big Mandate, but rather to suggest that trying to sign up religious conservative leaders for health care reform is a fool’s errand. They don’t care about the issue, and therefore are more than happy to use abortion, which they care deeply about, as a club with which to beat it down.