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Christian Science Will End ObamaCare

March 30, 2012

[RealClearReligion –] By Ron Meyers

During the oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week, Justice Elena Kagan said something that caught my ear:

But, of course, the theory behind, not just the government’s case, but the theory behind this law is that people are in this market right now, and they are in this market because people do get sick, and because when people get sick, we provide them with care without making them pay. And it that would be different, you know, if you were up here saying, I represent a class of Christian Scientists. Then you might be able to say, look, you know, why are they bothering me? But absent that, you’re in this market. You’re an economic actor.

And not because she was wrong about Christian Science. She wasn’t. In her comments, Justice Kagan illustrated a fact about the practice of health care in America that exposes why the individual mandate is unconstitutional — and why it tramples the First Amendment rights that all of us hold dear.  Read story»

Ron Meyer is a program officer for Young America’s Foundation and a graduate of Principla College.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2012 2:27 am

    I am a life-long Christian Scientist in his mid-seventies who has seen many Scientists fail to get a healing in Christian Science and need to see an M.D. in order not to die from their illnesses.

    Many Scientists don’t have long term care insurance, believing that God will take care of them and that they, consequently, don’t need insurance. I know of a Science nursing facility which had five Scientists on benevolence and which was going bankrupt because of non-payment by the persons on benevolence. I have three policies so that no one will have to pay for me if I end up in a nursing facility, which I hope will never happen.

    Mr. Meyer is a graduate of Principia College. Principia graduates do not live as long on average as graduates of a similar non-religious private college.

    Ron Meyer’s arguments would be valid only if all Scientists could consistently get healings in Christian Science, which they can’t, at least at the present time.

    Obamacare doesn’t require that Scientists use M.D.’s. That would be unconstitutional. Some Scientists can get healings in Christian Science consistently and would never use Obamacare.

    But for the rest of us, if we can’t get a healing in Christian Science, it is nice to be able to get medical intervention and continue to live without being bankrupted by the exorbitant charges of the medical profession and hospitals. Medical expenses are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. No one should not be able to get needed medical care because they can’t afford it.

    When I was a younger adult, I was able to get healings in Christian Science consistently for thirty-five years; but now I am very grateful for Medicare. If Mr. Meyer makes it to my age, the irony is that statistically he will probably be grateful that he is covered by Medicare.

    Mr. Meyer puts forth his arguments with the brash confidence of youth lacking experience. Statistically speaking, if he makes it to my age, he will have a different view of Obamacare.

  2. Joel Belmont permalink
    March 31, 2012 3:14 am

    While I don’t share the views of Mr. Larson, I’m surprised to see Christian Scientists taking leaning political stances in the name of other christian scientists.

    I am class taught, and rely on prayer (and the assistance of christian science practitioners) for every challenge I face.

    That said, I support the Affordable Care Act (derisively referred to as “Obamacare”). Ideally we wouldn’t need to rely on a failing form of medicine for healing. But the majority of people do rely on it, and it’s not fair that the industry can price gouge or deny coverage to people.

    We had to rely on insurance for the birth of our first child, because the state mandated that our home birth had to be in a hospital after 42 weeks. Luckily, we have a healthy business that supported the costs of insurance, which were still a hefty portion of the $30,000 + bills. Many people do not have finances to support that.

    And having been to places where healthcare is more socialized, like Germany, and having seen how well the whole system works (they have an amazing economy and industry – and no one falls through the cracks, while there is still a healthy wealthy class), I’m happy to pay more in taxes to help the system work for everyone – even if it’s something I don’t personally enjoy the benefits of.

    I’d prefer to read articles here on divine politics – not the erring opinions expressing human politics.

    • March 31, 2012 10:45 am

      Thanks for your well thought out reply. I also would pay whatever it takes to help others.
      I recall from biographies of Mrs. Eddy that she contributed money to a hospital that was being built. As I read about her life I see her as letting everyone find their own salvation in any way they felt they could. Her own early attempts at cures for herself, and her experimentation with different forms of medicine her come to many of the conclusions she states about how the “mortal mind” fools us into depending on matter.

      We are all on the road of spiritual growth and should do the best we can and not put ourselves down if we seem to live up to the Christain Science standard less than someone else does. God is certainly not leaving anyone behind. We are all held in his hand no matter what branch of our journey we are on.

  3. March 31, 2012 6:32 am

    Thank you Jon for your comment. My question, is how can Christian Scientists make our prayer so effective that Christian Scientists don’t have to seek medical help instead of completely relying on God’s help alone? Any of the activity of the Committee on Publication is helping everyone, not just for Christian Scientists, have fair treatment under the law. As Mrs. Eddy says, even in this week’s lesson sermon, “…whatever blesses one blesses all…” I would be concerned for the people who want the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).aka Obamacare, to come out alive at the end of the Justices’ decision. There should be justice for everyone. As a Christian Scientist I hope to be humble enough to pray not just for what I want but for the heavy hearts that and hurting bodies all over our nation, indeed all over the world. It is a shame that the good that President Obama is trying to do would seem to be able to pit the good people of our country against each other.

    It would be good to hear how many Christian Scientists are praying about this issue. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the headline of Mr. Meyer’s article — I certainly don’t know who authored the headline — has a divisive tone, and misrepresents Christian Science and Christian Scientists. I feel that if the law now before the Supreme Court is found unconstitutional, then the powers that be can come up with something that is more helpful for those who want help with their medical expenses.

    The largest help as a Christian Scientist I can give is to pray better, to love more, to be quite humble.

    Jon, a good start to the conversation. Thanks again.

  4. Drew Sprague permalink
    March 31, 2012 6:45 am

    I am a class taught and actively practicing student of Christian Science, as well as a member of TMC and a branch church. I agree with Mr. Larson’s position, and I disagree with Mr. Meyer’s position. Mr. Meyer overstates his assertions that the law under debate requires those studying Christian Science to use medicine or medical care. The ‘mandate’ component of the law is an insurance program. It leaves the choice to use or not to use medical care to the individual. I do not find it helpful to lump students of Christian Science into a group labeled “Christian Scientists” with a presumed level of skill for handling any arbitrary health issue that may arise. In fact, even many such students who have testified of significant and dramatic healings of accident or serious illness found themselves under medical care for a period although they were “Christian Scientists” at the time of need and although they ultimately found healing through prayerful treatment.

    As an employer, I am very interested in improvements in health and health care delivery that can help control the exploding cost of medical care and its insurance.

    As a citizen, I am concerned that many other citizens cannot afford medical care they believe they need, and I am concerned that many “Christian Scientists” cannot afford the basic Christian Science nursing care they believe they want.

    • laurabruno permalink
      April 13, 2012 7:14 am

      Actually, there IS some precedence for mandating care. Rahm Emmanuel, who helped design the Affordable Care Act and is now mayor of Chicago, has begun to impose fines on people choosing not to follow traditional medical care. Right now the fines are low, but if you look what he’s doing with fines in other areas like lawn care, they have become exhorbitant–$1200/day for weeds. His fines are designed to “nudge” people into participating in doctors’ recommendations like statin drugs.

      My concern with the Affordable Care Act is that it’s not really about health. It gives a massive amount of authority to the HHS to determine any and all “needs.” It also opens the door for mandatory microchipping of everyone, which is totally creepy and may result in poor people still not getting coverage. It would be linked to one’s bank account, so at the time of service if someone didn’t have enough $$ in there to cover beyond what insurance would, they could be denied care. The RFID chip could also monitor if people were actually taking their prescribed meds, so, for example, if the HHS required everyone to have a physical, and a doctor said you needed to take three prescriptions, the government would know if you opted not to take them. The government could then impose fines on you. While this RFID chipping is not explicit in the bill, a careful legal analysis showed that the door has been clearly opened for that. The government has been wanting to find a way to do the RFID chipping for a long time, so an open door is very open in this case:

      I believe we can do far better than the Affordable Care Act, which infringes on freedom and natural law in so many ways, without actually improving people’s health. The government is trying to suppress, not free up healing information and tools. (Google Codex Alimentarius if you don’t know what it is.) Why not pray for access to organic foods, clean water and air, and the labeling of GMO foods designed to suppress endocrine function and cause obesity? Why not pray for a shift of power from bigpharma and big banks to the hands of people who can then take responsibility for their own health, whether by prayer, diet, herbal supplements or traditional medicine?

  5. Shirley permalink
    March 31, 2012 7:36 am

    The writer incorrectly refers to the case before the Supreme Court as Obamacare rather than Affordable Care Act. The passage of the Affordable Care Act was to make health care available to all. When the country promotes a program that makes health care available to all, rather than a select few, it promotes the common good.

    I have studied Christian Science all my adult life and the teachings are effective in meeting my health care needs. I paid premiums during working years for company sponsored medical insurance. Since retirement I have paid Medicare premiums. Payment of these premiums does not negate my core religious beliefs or my understanding of the Bible and the teachings of Christian Science. The payment of premiums does not effect my ability to practice my religious beliefs. The writer, Ron Meyers, makes a false argument.

  6. Joan Levitt permalink
    March 31, 2012 11:18 am

    I guess people are assuming the author of the article, Ron, is of a certain age and of a certain political persuasion. People replying are chastising him for taking a leaning political stance when in essence supporting the PPACA is also taking a leaning political stance. As a class taught student of CS for nearly 30 years ( since the trend is to proclaim our grounding in CS), I feel the government shouldn’t make me buy health insurance.( My choice to buy health insurance is not my government’s nor my church’s business). It is medicalizing our society (can it get anymore medical?). The Health Insurance industry needs reform, so do drug manufacturers, how about wrongful lawsuits against doctors and rampant fraud for benefits? Does the PPACA address those issues? Do the legislators even know what’s in this mega- paged bill? Is it economically sound? Is the PPAXA a well thought out, bipartisan solution?
    This is really a political argument. It’s polarizing and a complex, difficult issue. Many people feel it is being forced upon them and not the wisest way to provide healthcare to people who need it. We all have differing leanings & political stances. There’s no wrong or right here because it’s a relative situation. Let’s get back to praying and knowing that Love will lead the way to a principled and harmonious working out of this mess.

    • Colin Treworgy permalink
      April 3, 2012 9:10 pm

      Hi Joan! The insurance mandate has the unfortunate effect of making Christian Scientists feel like they are merely being forced to buy something they don’t want to use. The purpose of the insurance mandate isn’t to make CS use medical care, but rather to broaden the pool of those covered and thereby lower costs for all. The alternative to the mandate is higher taxes. Which alternative is better? I tend to favor the insurance mandate because it gives each individual some choice about what they buy vs a tax which gives you no choice at all. What Christian Scientists need to focus on is getting insurance companies to include coverage of CS treatment and care facilities, then it is a win-win situation for everyone.

  7. Janet Jones permalink
    March 31, 2012 2:37 pm

    JUST a few comments. The mandate was initiated by the Republicans during a healthcare meeting during the Clinton administration. All that fell apart. The real goal is Single payer (one government program, efficient and inexpensive, covering all who have a need to seek it.) The Japanese have a really good system, one can go to any doctor, without an appointment! Under single payer there is regulation of pharmaceutical prices, and a cap on physician charges, (do you know the price charged by a physician in one area may be 5-10 times what another would charge for the exact same treatment in the US?) Get the facts. Single payer ( the government)
    is a common system in many countries, France (considered the best, and used on a cash basis by some Americans), Germany, England, Canada,even Cuba.
    Costa Rica (about $350 yearly charge,includes dentistry,hearing aids, eyeglasses, etc). Mexico, Panama, Others. We, the US are stymied by politics, and insurance companies,and big Pharmaceutical companies. Our non-system is bloated and money driven. Many other countries are shocked that we allow drug ads on TV.
    The present Bill is a mish mash, only because it is taking whatever will politically be possible, under present circumstances.The end game is low cost, efficient single pay available for everyone. No mandate necessary. No insurance necessary. Not an expensive mess for businesses. No coercion. A Christian Scientist since the 1930’s

  8. J Sawatzky permalink
    March 31, 2012 6:48 pm

    As a Student of CS for some 40 years , but NOT an American I find this concern by American Scientists rather odd. There are CS members and churches all over the world and most, especially in the western advanced states, live and practice CS under some system of socialized medicine. Perhaps I am wrong but most states require you to have insurance but does not FORCE you to use it. The argument that it “violates our religious conscience.” makes no sense to me. I have always considered myself to be fortunate that I live in a country where , those who follow or chose the medical route can be helped without determining the size of their wallet. The author should perhaps visit one of the third world countries where there is neither medical nor metaphysical options.

  9. Phil Sheldon permalink
    March 31, 2012 10:24 pm

    A quick click on the link to Mr. Meyer’s organization shows that he is an employee of a highly partisan, ultra-conservative organization that was once known as Young Americans for Freedom – if I recall correctly, they made their name by vigorously defending their hero Richard Nixon against anti-war protestors. A couple minutes on their website shows that their goal is to defeat President Obama, not to offer a better solution to our health care needs.

    I believe a balanced evaluation of how Christian Science squares with the Affordable Care Act could shed significant light on this important national discussion (and several of the commenters have added valuable insights). Sadly, however, this article is simply a political statement that occasionally adds the words “Christian Science” to the arguments that Fox News has repeated continuously throughout this debate.

    I agree with the commenters who point out that there is nothing in this act that FORCES you to use medical care. It simply says that every American citizen will have INSURANCE so that in the event that Mr. Meyer or any of us ever find ourselves using the healthcare system (or someone makes that decision for us in the event that we are incapacitated), excellent health care will be there, without anyone delaying or denying treatment while determining if we have health insurance.

    Almost every Christian Scientist that I have known for an extended period has at some point used either traditional medicine or Christian Science practitioners, nursing services and residential facilities (or a combination). This is not likely to change, so perhaps instead of pushing to maintain the current erratic system that randomly bankrupts our fellow citizens who encounter the misfortune of expensive, uninsured health care, we should enlist Mr. Meyer to make sure that professional Christian Science treatment is an option covered by the Affordable Care Act.

  10. Joel Belmont permalink
    April 1, 2012 3:41 am

    I appreciate all the thoughtful replies posted on this topic. I just thought I would add more more idea: though the validity of the original article has been rightly (in my opinion) questioned and been found somewhat erroneous and biased, the argument does not need to involve any animosity towards the author (or towards President Obama for that matter). While no one here has intentional animosity, I think it’s important to separate false belief from person – as man ever reflects God, good.

  11. Jud Ruhl permalink
    April 1, 2012 5:18 pm

    It seems to me that Justice Kagan is correct: we all have a pony in this show. Our goal should be for equality. It’s not that Christian Scientists can be compelled to seek medical attention, but that we should be represented too, with full coverage for appropriate treatment, including C.S Practitioner fees, Nursing care, institutional stays, something most pols seem reluctant to do, since there’s a perception of Church/state problems. But treatment appropriate to a Christian Scientist should be included if they are expected to pay into the pool.
    It’s also so, that often for many reasons,Christian Scientists are treated in a medical setting, by choice, or by convention, as Emergency care Responders are pretty much compelled to transport the subject of an accident or other emergency to the Emergency Room. In our community that costs $35.00/ minute.
    It seems to me that the fuel for this divisive fire is fear in lots of guises– fear that one will be left out, compelled to do something against his/her principles, be compelled to pay for services that are not appropriate, or just that someone will get something not available to him/her.
    I pray to see that justice will prevail in every instance, and that I won’t be sucked into the level of concern that swirls around the whole issue. I find it helpful to remember that Mary Baker Eddy eschewed politics, and didn’t do activist things. She simply healed every challenge with extreme Love. We probably can’t do more than emulate her.

  12. Deborah houlgrave permalink
    April 3, 2012 2:13 am

    I am a Christian Scientist living in the UK
    I feel that having ther National Health Service in this country makes it harder for us to demonstrate Christian Science healing because of the temptation to resort to medical help because it is so cheap and easy..

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