Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CAN CHRISTIANS ADMIT OUR BIASES ON HEALTH REFORM AND MOVE TOWARD COMMON GROUND?

Can Christians and faith communities admit our ideological biases and move toward higher, common ground?

SOJO POST.  I was pleased to see that the Sojourners community posted my Five Christian Considerations for Health-Care Reform on their site today.  I posted this piece here on Bikehiker last week and Sojourners folks asked to post it.  I just wasn't sure when it might appear.

A FEW HAND-HOLDS.  My intention with the reflection was to offer Christian pastors and congregational leaders a few Biblical and Christian community hand-holds to help their communities find and move to some higher, common ground in the health care reform dialog.  I referenced only a few Scripture passages specifically in the piece, but I could (and perhaps should) populate it with a multitude of Bible references that give weight to the five points.  The point is not to muster "proof" passages but to lift up the overarching call for the church to be the church in a compassionate, Kingdom-anticipating witness before the world in this particular opportunity at this particular time.

BIAS ABOUNDS.  I am aware that one of the big issues in the health care dialog to this point is bias.  Not many are willing to admit bias--particularly Christians and particularly those who are so immersed in it that they can't recognize it.  But we ALL carry biases into this discussion. Some have a liberarian bias.  Some have a conservative.  Some have a liberal bias (that's me).  Some have a very dim view of a  government role in social and economic issues.  Some have a higher view of the role of government (again, that's me).  Some are in the middle somewhere.  Some have unspoken or carefully-concealed prejudices that color their views and are reflected in their actions or inactions.  And we all have some reason or justifications--some valid, some not--for our biases.

A LITTLE HONESTY, PLEASE.  Why is bias important to recognize and own up to?  It just seems to me that Christians could introduce a degree of honesty into the health care reform dialog if we would
(1) admit our political and ideological biases,
(2) distinguish these from our understanding of essential Christianity, and
(3) stop demonizing--by word and action--anyone--including fellow Christians--who hold contrary perspectives to ours.

BEYOND DEMONIZING EACH OTHER.  I've been personally demonized by some Christian folk who are convinced, based on the misinformation and/or the wrong implications of information they've been given, that my support for the current health care reform legislation is anti-Christian.  But I am convinced that the legislation, though it is not perfect (what legislation or law ever is?), is not sinister, not invasive, not forcing payment for abortions, not determining end-of-life measures, not "socialism," and not unfair for all.  On the other hand, from my perspective, I see the status quo--leaving the health-care, -insurance, and -consumer system as they are--as both morally reprehensible and economically unsustainable.  Instead of demonizing those who cleave to status quo, I am trying to better understand where they are coming from and trying to be understood fairly by them.

LET IT BEGIN WITH US.  Perhaps the confession of bias and a common seeking after the good of all our neighbors is a good beginning point--or re-beginning point--for moving forward in this national dialog.  It seems to me that such confession and common seeking could begin in the church and among religious communities and bodies which hold opposing biases, and that this would be a witness to the world in our time of what we point to when we say "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
 

In the spirit of dialog, I welcome comments and/or questions. Click on "responses" below to post. They're moderated only to reduce incivility.

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