The United Methodist Church, as indicated in the accompanying excerpt from our Book of Discipline, has advocated for health care reform in America and the world since 1996. We do so following a long Methodist family tradition: John Wesley led the way in seeking to minister to body and soul.
Some folks reacted negatively to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's expression of gratitude to the United Methodist Church for its support. Her comments are properly related to our awareness of the need for and support of health care reform and not for the bill signed March 23. While politicians make their claims and counterclaims, perhaps the most important point is that our denomination, along with more than 350 other supporting organizations, has long been on record for advocacy of health care reform. Whether this legislation offers the best method to achieve the desired results remains to be seen.
My dream is that we can move beyond the right vs. left half-truths or outright lies in politics, social justice issues, and religious faith. My dream is that our elected representatives will demonstrate bipartisan leadership and cooperation so the right thing for all our citizens may be realized. Unlike the many "experts" on both sides, I am not positive what the “right thing” is in health care reform, but I am fairly certain our health care system desperately needs improvement.
The current displays of animosity, death threats, and lack of civility in our society are embarrassing. I confess I am angry -- angry with all politicians who sell the sacred trust of their constituents to the lobbyist with the deepest pocket. I am angry with both left- and right-talking heads in the news media who distort the truth to serve their own bias and incite bad, sometimes violent, behavior toward my fellow citizens. I am especially angry that MSNBC and Fox News lie about providing the public with fair and balanced reporting.
I trust the Great Physician to provide direction to all who will listen. Perhaps a good place to start is to tone down the rhetoric and listen to one another. Maybe I am naïve, but in matters of faith I will put my money on Jesus rather than broadcaster Glenn Beck, who recently suggested Christians should leave any church that preaches on social justice.
Jesus had quite a bit to say about social justice. See Micah 6:8, Matthew 25:31-46, and Mark 11:15-16 for details about God’s position on justice. Maybe I’m wrong, but I suspect Beck will be just one among us when we stand for final judgment.
The Rev. Ron Matthews is Holston Confererence director of communications and executive assistant to Bishop James Swanson.
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- Book of Disciple 2008: "Right to Health Care"
- What is the UMC's position on health care reform?" (UMC.org)