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Is religious liberty the key to health care for all?

As I observed in an article published at DailyCaller.com this week, during his Presidential campaign Donald Trump challenged conservatives to get used to the idea that as we replace Obamacare “we have to take care of everybody….” His recent Executive Order aims to revamp the US government’s regulatory approach so that income earners “can more easily tailor their insurance purchases to their circumstances, priorities and incomes.” But what about “people who simply cannot afford the health assurance they need?”

Giving better choices to income earners may lower their incentive to participate in the state exchanges Obamacare instituted. This lack of participation will make it harder to sustain them. With the U.S. government subsidies Obama unlawfully provided, lack of funding will also give insurers little or no incentive to offer plans through the exchanges. The result will leave many who need care without the means to pay for it. There will be an outcry against the abandonment of these needy people, whom Obamacare claimed to help. Faced with this outcry, why shouldn’t we expect President Trump to be open to a remedy that reflects the view he has taken in the past that the single payer (i.e., socialist) approach is the ideal?

If President Trump works with a Democrat/RINO coalition in Congress to forge agreement on an approach that provides government help to the needy, using what is de facto a version of the single payer, socialist approach, will conservative opponents of that approach nonetheless have the political will needed to prevent its adoption? Or will they have too much to fear at the polls from being portrayed as the obstacle to doing what candidate Trump told his supporters would have to be done.

By then, perhaps, some Trump supporters may be tempted to conclude that this advance toward socialist healthcare for the masses is what Donald Trump, like other leaders of the elitist faction, had in mind all along. But by then it may not matter much what President Trump’s supporters think. They will have contributed to a result that makes self-government a façade, behind which control of access to the life and death services of the health care sector allows a self-serving ruling clique to institutionalize a species of “liberty” that, as the French political thinker Rousseau put it, forces people to be free.

What if the whole aim of so-called health care reform has been to establish this regime of proto-totalitarian elitist control, in keeping with the historic pattern of socialist governments during the 20th century? Surveillance, police, and military powers were the primary means of control. But the façade erected by the so-called welfare state allows the use of means that are less overtly oppressive. Because they are insidiously disguised as “benefits”, the dictatorship they impose is harder to challenge, resist or even identify as such. People ill-disposed to forego the benefits are awkwardly positioned to resist the means required to secure them.

In the political struggle to construct the “welfare state”, its controlling aspects are rarely the focus of attention. They lie hidden in the administrative details. Political discussion focuses on who gets what, rather than on who gets disciplined to provide it. Where health care is concerned, for example, the implication of enslavement to state power is camouflaged by the ethic of self-abnegating discipline formally demanded by the medical profession since ancient times. But that demand should also lead us to ponder the double-edged nature of medical knowledge. Caring and killing, curing and poisoning are, for example, equally within its purview.

The well-known ancient command to “Do no harm” was, among other things, an advertisement, intended to foster trust. Its effective authority was cemented in the public mind, however, by the power of an oath. That oath was taken in the context of dedication to the service of a god who cared for humanity; or else, a fervent commitment to imitate the example of human beings who were godlike in their selfless willingness to care for others. In either case, the motive was religious in nature. It reflected the existence of a bond that went beyond selfish. material calculations of wealth, fame and power; a bond derived from the will to seek truth for its own sake, and to do good with no regard but for truth.

Though this ethic predated Christ’s ministry, his words and example reinforced and elevated its importance. The healer’s ministry, pursued as a way of opening hearts to the Gospel, is literally an imitation of Christ. It is a gift of the Spirit enabling works of mercy for God’s sake, and in His name. The Spirit informs the human mind with the rule of God’s reason, which is supposed to govern it. The right use of reason, according to that rule, includes the wisdom derived from understanding the information of God that determines the nature of things, including the human body, and the herbs, roots and other substances that can help to alleviate its pains, injuries and infirmities.

The overflow of faith, in keeping with Christ’s commandment of love, enabled works of corporal and spiritual mercy, whether in the monasteries of Christendom during the Middle Ages, or in the medical practices and hospitals maintained by Christian people in later times. In the ethics that resulted, the needy, in both the material and spiritual sense of that term, became the special focus of the healer’s ministry. Support for institutions to teach and practice medicine became a standard feature of Christian charity, alongside institutions to care for widows, orphans and others enduring physical or emotional troubles.

Writers like Gertrude Himmelfarb have pondered the importance of these charitable ministries in the history of the United States. It is one of the reasons for the special status accorded to the activities of what we call the non-profit or not-for profit sector of our economy. As part of their ideological assault on what they derided as “bourgeois” morality, socialist ideologues heap contempt on charity, portraying it as an aspect of the degradation of the lumpenproletariat in capitalist societies. Yet, as part of their strategy to impose socialist dictatorship, they have fostered the pretense that bureaucratic government will care for the needy, as well or better than such demeaning “charities.”

In fact, however, socialism has in practice fostered a two-tier economic and social reality, giving preference to the imposing leaders of party dictatorship, and their servants, while rationing the scarce resource of quality goods and services (including health care) in ways that severely ration access for the masses. True Christian charity, however, remembers the example of Christ, whose miraculous healings were intended to open hearts to the perfection of God’s love. He opened the eyes of the blind to see more than they could before. He cured the lame to run on narrow paths more surely than those never seeking his aid could walk more broadly trampled highways. God offered quality services to all.

People who practice the healer’s art in the Spirit of Christ are moved by the spirit of Christ’s love of humanity, not the material fruits they can harvest for themselves. People who support their work are moved by their faith in the promises of God, not the profit, in money, pride, power or praise, bestowed upon them by the world. Instead of using the coercive power of government to tax reluctant individuals to support institutions inevitably tainted by the corruption of power, individual faith procures resources freely given. They appear as evidence of the unseen God of gods, whose love works through the wholehearted good will of those faithful to His purposes. So they heal human nature itself, according to the perfection of human nature as He originally conceived it.

Instead of the fake “liberty” that betrays people into government bondage, the private, voluntary resource for healing expresses and confirms the liberty wherewith Christ makes people free. Instead of aggrandizing power behind the pretense of caring for the poor and needy, the method of Christ’s love protects and encourages the faithful expression of God’s caring, by people determined to enlarge its sphere.

This was the standard of the charitable health sector before power-hungry socialist ideologues commenced their assault on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and before people who profess their faith in Christ, giving way to that assault, licensed government to usurp the work of His living body on earth, which his followers are supposed to constitute and represent.

Instead of socialist rule, in service to power, this standard upholds God’s rule, in service to love. In addition to clearing away the regulatory obstacles that inhibit the function of the for-profit health insurance sector, what if we clear away the ideological obstacles, promoted by contemptuous elitism, that aim to banish and destroy the function of the sector that works for the love of God? What if we return to the premises of God-endowed right that will banish the poison pills of requirements like abortion and the demand for gender extinction, which aim to dissolve those premises?

In this respect, the agenda of religious liberty is not important simply as a matter of individual freedom. It is important because the right use of freedom (i.e., the God-endowed right of liberty) is the key to unlocking the blessings the U.S, Constitution aims to secure; among which were, and still should be, those which true Christian charity is supposed freely to share with those in need, in token of Christ’s love for all. Donald Trump recently declared that America worships God, not government. Ceasing the governmental assault against religiously motivated private charity would encourage people of good faith to return to their historic role as the primary channel for the provision of health care services to the needy. This would be a good step toward proving that this his declaration is not mere rhetoric.

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