Hospitals have throughout the centuries been created, organized and run by religions in order to help the sick, especially those who were poor and could not afford a doctor. This started in ancient Egypt and continued in Rome, the Islamic world, medieval Europe and from America’s inception all the way into the early 20th century.
In medieval Europe and continuing forward, hospitals were created and maintained by Religious organizations expressly to help those who needed help, based on the idea of Christian mercy, especially verses from the Gospels about caring for the sick and the poor.
So I have to ask myself what has happened to the religious groups in America today who, although claiming to be carrying out the works of Jesus were among the most vehement and outspoken people against the overhaul of the health care system in this country.
It seems that providing for the health and well being of those who most need it, (i.e. those who don’t have and can’t afford private health insurance) is somehow against their Christian sensibilities. Why would religious organizations that have a history stretching back over 2000 years of helping the sick and poor, now decided that private health care is the only reasonable course?
I think it is due to the greed that has been creeping into organized religious groups, especially fundamentalist ones, over the past 50 or so years in this country. It seems that the pursuit of money and worldly acquisitions has not only been tolerated, but in many cases encouraged and celebrated by these groups. Some have even written books espousing the idea that making money and becoming rich in some way glorifies God.
Haven’t these people read Jesus’ words in the Gospel when he told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven? Or did they find a new papyrus or scroll that said, “Never mind, I was just kidding. Judas, get me some more silver coins!”
It is these same people who fight against 2000 years of their own traditions of mercy and kindness, of giving and helping the poor and sick that now are trying to kill any law that interferes with unbridled capitalism, even if it excludes those who are most in need.
I’m surprised that the religious right hasn’t yet managed to rewrite the famous speech of William Jennings Bryan to read:
“Having behind us the producing poor masses of this nation and the 3rd world, supported by the commercial banks and wall street, and climbing high upon the backs of the laboring and the mostly immigrant toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a government sponsored health care standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of the wealthy this crown of thorns, you shall not deny us our cross of gold!”