Southern Baptists and Childen's Health Care

As I have argued in several other posts, Democrats make a mistake in believing that the Evangelical vote can be ignored. The Evangelical community is a diverse one, and for many issues like the war in Iraq, economic justice and health care are issues of moral imperative that will lead a faith-based vote for a Democrat--if we make the overture.

Christianity Today offers support for my thesis from a surprising source. (James Dobson, call your office immediately):

Departing from typical conservative advocacy, the Southern Baptists' top lobbyist has joined an interfaith group calling on Congress to extend health-care coverage to every American child.

Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, gathered with Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders at a March 6 press conference to address the "moral imperative" of health care for children. "Some say [health care coverage] is all well and good, but we should focus on the main thing, pro-life issues," Land said. "I say the focus on health care is pro-life. We're not just pro-life from conception to birth."

Land and the other leaders endorsed reauthorization and greater federal funding of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Begun in 1997, SCHIP faces little renewal opposition. However, according to People Improving Communities Through Organizing, more than $60 billion over five years will be needed to cover all of America's 9 million uninsured children. SCHIP's original budget was $24 billion over 10 years.

Of course, there are other voices in the Evangelical community (apparently with a personal stake in the matter) that take a different view of their Biblical responsibilities:

However, some evangelical leaders criticize federal and state assistance for diminishing parents' and businesses' responsibility to provide insurance for dependents. Other critics say such assistance fails to address the core issue of spiraling provider costs.

"Our health system is badly broken. It costs too much; too many people are uninsured," said David Stevens, ceo of the Christian Medical Association. "[But] we need a program that is not going to turn over children and the elderly to the government. … The Bible teaches us to take care of our families, and that we have the primary responsibilities."

Land sees no need for personal responsibility and government assistance to conflict. "If we can unite around anything," he said, "surely we can unite around the responsibility … to deliver health care to the nation's children."

Read it all.


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