Mainlines Chime in On SCOTUS Decision (UPDATED)
I don’t know if anyone cares what the mainline churches think of today’s Supreme Court decision (actually, I do, but covering this part of public issues is part of what I’m around here for), but it isn’t hard to guess. First up, the National Council of Churches:
The National Council of Churches today welcomed today’s decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that upholds the core of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obama Care.”
The Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty….
“We as churches follow the bold example of Jesus, who healed the sick, sometimes breaking the religious law that governed society,” Lohre said.
In fact, of course, the NCC heals no one—they get the government to pay doctors and hospitals to do so, to put the best face on it. And what “religious law” they are breaking by supporting Obamacare escapes me entirely, but then I try not to get in the way of liberals when they use religion the way a gorilla uses a hand grenade.
Next up, the Presbyterian Church (USA), whose Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons, also hailed the decision, and pledged the PCUSA’s resources to shilling for the law:
We rejoice today as the Supreme Court rules to uphold constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. As Reformed Christians, we believe that all people possess inherent worth as children of God, and that God’s promise of abundant life extends to all. Health coverage must be available to all persons living in the United States, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, geography, age, gender, employment status, or health status. Presbyterians have worked both individually and collectively to move our nation toward a more inclusive and just system of health care – with a particular focus on persons whose health conditions or low income have created barriers to receiving needed health care. The Affordable Care Act is moving us in the right direction. [Emphasis added.]
Yes, you read right—the federal government is now the channel by which God fulfills His promise of “abundant life.” Gorillas and hand grenades, again…
With these legal challenges behind us, we are eager to take part in continued educational efforts to inform our faith communities about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and to help to connect uninsured persons with the health care they need. We call on Congress to refrain from further introduction of legislation that would derail full implementation, whether by defunding or by eliminating programs that are included in the Affordable Care Act. And we further call on Congress to take the next step toward health care justice, by adopting a single-payer health system for the good of all. We pray that our elected leaders will accept the decision of the Supreme Court and will diligently facilitate the full implementation of this vital, life-giving law.
I’m not sure when the PCUSA was incorporated into the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but I’m sure they’ll be very happy together. The United Church of Christ gives SCOTUS a big “Amen”:
Leaders of the United Church of Christ voiced enthusiastic approval today after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health care law in a splintered, complex opinion that gives him a major election-year victory.
In essence, justices ruled that the individual mandate – the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine – is constitutional as a tax. The individual mandate had been the key question for the court.
“The United Church of Christ joins its ecumenical and interfaith partners in applauding the U. S. Supreme Court justices for upholding the Affordable Care Act in its entirety,” said Barbara Baylor, UCC minister for health-care justice.
This is why church leaders shouldn’t make official comments about stuff they know little about beyond partisan or ideological platitudes. The law was not upheld in its entirety—in fact, an important element of it was struck down, as the states will no longer be required to participate in the expansion of Medicaid, which will likely leave lots of people out. But details like that never get in the way when mainline leaders want to wax poetic.
“The Supreme Court decision today is a clear signal that we as a country are moving toward the realm of God on earth – the realm of this merciful, compassionate God, full of love for all,” said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president. [Emphasis added.]
If you just spit a beverage on your computer monitor, I humbly apologize. I should have given you more warning. Leaders in the United Methodist Church, meanwhile, essentially announced their intention to dump lots of the denominations ministers on the gubmint:
“I think this is great day for thinking about health care in this country and how it’s going to cover 33 million more Americans,” said the Rev. Cynthia Abrams, who directs the health care advocacy program for the Board of Church and Society….
Among the beneficiaries of the new law, Abrams said, will be local United Methodist churches.
She said some annual (regional) conferences are planning to use the state-based insurance exchanges that are scheduled to be operational by 2014.
“If they do that,” she said, “then clergy and local church employees will be in a larger risk pool, which will include a healthier population than just the United Methodist clergy. That will decrease costs in terms of health insurance premiums.”
Surveys repeatedly have found United Methodist pastors in the United States have a higher incidence of health problems than their peers. Abrams said many local churches also will be able to take advantage of a new small-business tax credit under the health-care law.
Lonnie Chafin, the treasurer of the Northern Illinois Conference, estimates the law will reduce the conference’s annual budgets from $15,500 to $6,000 per appointment. “I believe that many of the associate pastor positions that went to lay people to shed benefits can transfer back to elders,” he said. “I reckon we will gain 20 appointments in associates and small church pastorates.”
Funny, I thought the liberals in the UMC (and the Northern Illinois Conference is very liberal) were all about church-state separation. Must mean some other church, I guess. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) echoed its mainline brethren:
General Minister and President Sharon Watkins said, “As a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world, Disciples of Christ pray for and work for the health and well-being of all God’s children. Jesus’ witness was that abundant life includes physical, mental and spiritual wellness. I welcome decisions that help all of us make progress in this direction, including today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.
“Jesus’ ministry was one of healing, bringing life to the dying, sight to the blind, wellness to the sick, and peace to the troubled. The call upon us is to make this vision a reality for all.”
“For over a decade, the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has affirmed the goal of affordable, quality health care for all,” said Dr. Laird Thomason, Minister of Health and Wholeness at the Disciples Center for Public Witness. “Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court allows all of us, as active citizens and as committed people of faith, to continue making progress towards this basic human right.”
Another gorilla, another hand grenade. How DHHS is going to make Jesus’ ministry a “reality for all” beats the daylights out of me, but then I’m just a Bible-believing Christian who doesn’t see the hand of God at work in the federal government.
Inexplicably, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the American Baptists have not yet checked in with hosannas. When they do, I’ll let you know. If anyone out there cares.
UPDATE: Still nothing from TEC or ELCA, but Daniel Gibson of Religion News Service has an interesting collection of quotes up at Sojourners. A few of the more interesting ones:
Jon O’Brien, president of faux-Catholic group Catholics for Choice (Frances Kissling’s outfit) demonstrates that in his phony religion, God never gave the Ninth Commandment:
Catholics for Choice is pleased that the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. We are also aware, however, that the battle to ensure that individuals can make conscience-based decisions about their healthcare is not over. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has made clear that it will stop at nothing to block the ability of women and families to access contraception, even if it means derailing policies and programs that provide healthcare to those in need. CFC will continue to speak for the millions of Catholics whose views are not represented by the bishops, and who support increased access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare for all women and men as a matter of social justice and sound public policy.
Sister Simone Campbell of the “social justice” group Network (the nuns’ organization the Vatican is cracking down on because they apparently don’t believe that “social justice” includes protection for the unborn):
We are elated. The Supreme Court has affirmed that the law is constitutional, and we know that this prolife decision will save many, many lives. This is a win for the entire nation. Knowing that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage and that young people can continue to stay on their family healthcare policies is wonderful news for every family and individual.
The Rev. Jennifer Butler of Faith in Public Life too her cue from President Obama’s call for everyone to sit down and shut up already:
The Supreme Court did the right thing for American families by upholding the Affordable Care Act. Faith leaders worked tirelessly to pass this legislation because ensuring that all Americans have quality, affordable healthcare is a moral responsibility. The religious right needs to halt their misguided campaign to repeal this law. Human life is too sacred to be jeopardized by partisan crusades.
Funny, isn’t it, how nothing anyone on the left (religious or secular) is ever a “partisan crusade,” while pretty much everything conservatives (religious or secular) do is?
James Salt, executive director of the liberal group Catholics United, is glad the Supreme Court majority is not like other men:
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the soul of America. As a nation built on the principles of community, personal responsibility and solidarity, this ruling affirms the moral fiber of this nation is strong. Catholics United is grateful the Supreme Court overcame the politics of division to serve the least among us.”
“A victory for the soul of America.” Somewhere, Miles Davis is crying.
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