Last week, the administration showed just how desperate it is to pass its healthcare plan. Despite the president ignoring the National Day of Prayer and failing to join a church in DC, he mustered enough faith to call on the Church community to participate in a national conference call. Although 140,000 people logged in, this is a paltry number when one considers that evangelical voters number in excess of 65 million people and nearly 80% of Americans claim to be Christians.
Another sign of the administration’s desperation was the tone that the president’s handlers encouraged him to take. He seemed to depart from his typical magnanimous spirit. In fact, the call included divisive name-calling by the president, accusing his opponents of “bearing false witness” – religious speak for lying.
Many conservative leaders were shocked at the way the administration is using the same techniques that they criticized the Bush administration for using. In essence, the president sought to woo Christian leaders to function as foot soldiers in his war for healthcare. In fact, the president himself has taken shots at Bush and others for manipulating the faithful - not to mention that books like Blinded by Might and Tempting Faith have castigated the Republicans for deceiving fawning ministers by naming names and showing where all the “bodies were buried” in the religious, political game. Worst of all, scores of books have been written by “progressive” ministers that say there should be a separation of church and state. Not one soldier in the army of liberals has criticized the president for the tenor of the conference call. The hypocrisy is sickening.
My take on the conference call is that it was an attempt to baptize something evil into a new name with new packaging. Church leaders have been asked by the president to call universal healthcare a “moral imperative.” Projecting universal healthcare as the “only” moral imperative is as sensible as calling a person born in the US a native Australian because he visited Sydney once. It is certain that every judicious person in the nation wants medical care for the least, the last, and the left out - the goal is admirable, yet sometimes evil is done by those with good motives who lack long term vision.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.